Four years after the events of Resistance 2, the world is a grim and desperate place. Humanity teeters on the brink of extinction after the Chimera occupied the planet, and small groups of survivors cling to life by staying mobile and finding brief safe havens wherever they can. Joseph Capelli, a former army sergeant, has found a home with one such faction - but is soon propelled into an epic pilgrimage across the United States in order to reach New York and unite the survivors into a standing army.
Capelli quickly makes his way to the ruined town of Haven, Oklahoma, where a beleagured team of survivors have come under attack from Chimeran forces. Its shattered buildings, tight alleyways and vulnerable courtyards provided the setting for the demo level, showcasing an impressively bleak design aesethetic that blends pale yellows and deep browns into a uniquely eye-catching post-apocalyptic palette. A raging dust storm further increased the atmosphere of loneliness and desperation. There wasn't enough time to enjoy the scenery, though, because a Chimera dropship soon arrived and deployed its horrifying troops to the battlefield.
Resistance 2, while fairly solid, came under fire for essentially being a shooting gallery that could have worked equally well on rails. Insomniac have clearly taken this criticism to heart as enemies are now extremely intelligent, dynamic and agile. Chimera merrily leap between rooftops, snipe from vantage points and use elevated positions to manoeuvre behind players; meaning that you'll need to scan the skyline and constantly relocate in order to take them down. Engagements are deeply tactical and tense, with the unpredictable foes resembling worthy adversaries rather than oblivious bullet sponges. Mid-bosses such as the menacing 'Brawler' will provide refreshing changes of pace thanks to multi-stage battles and multiple weak points.
The Resistance series is famed for its arsenal, and though its chief weapons designer jumped ship to create his own (awesome) Indie studio once Fall Of Man hit the shelves, there are still an impressive number of boomsticks to play around with. Fan favourites like the wall-drilling Auger and versatile Carbine make a welcome return along with new additions such as the devastating Deadeye sniper rifle. Weapons gain experience and upgrades as they're used, resulting in a selection of armaments that continually grows in terms of potency as well as numbers. Early-game guns will be just as devastating as their late-game counterparts. In keeping with the bleak nature of the storyline, however, many of the weapons are evidently home-made or cobbled together out of spare parts - especially the frag grenade that's basically a tin can packed with nails and C4.
The mechanics are all competent FPS bread and butter. Capelli moves with a determined sense of weight, inertia and heft - and the reliance on first aid kits over regenerating health makes for a much more thoughtful and tactical vibe. Players will need to remember where the rare stashes of health and armour can be found, though, and years without health bars means that instinct has probably atrophied for most of us.
It's very difficult to make judgement calls about graphics at expos and conventions. Not only does preview code tend to represent the game in its alpha or beta stage, but these events tend to overload us with visual stimuli throughout the day. The PS3 dev console was also running extremely hot after hours of extended punishment - and thus causing a fair amount of texture pop-in and slowdown. Still, because many of you will moan if we don't mention the graphics, Resistance 3 managed to look good; with some ropey texture work and visible jaggies made up for by silky smooth animations and painstaking attention to character model detail. Again, it's early days, and we'll know more down the line.
After completing the demo, I was able to blitz through it again using the Playstation Move and navigation controller; with both peripherals cradled gently within the comfortable confines of the Wii Zapper... sorry, Sharp Shooter. It defaults to the tried-and-tested standard of using the navigation controller's thumstick for basic movement and an on-screen reticle for aiming and rotating the player's point of view when it reaches the periphery of the screen. Reloading, grenades and sprinting are all easily accessible, making for a negligible learning curve. Considerate auto-aim removes any potential aggravation for new players.
Unfortunately Move hits a stumbling block when you aim down the ironsights or look through a scope. The aiming speed is painfully slow, and feels like you're fighting against sticky treacle when you're trying to move the crosshairs and line up the perfect shot. Insomniac will doubtlessly work on the sensitivity over the coming months, but at present, it's literally not fit for task.
All in all, I'm still not convinced that Playstation Move genuinely enhances FPS games - and my time with Resistance 3 certainly hasn't changed my mind. But at least it works, and when Insomniac have sorted out the miserable scope handling, Move support will provide a fun and different way to play.
Resistance 3 is slated for a September 9th release on PS3.