With Insomniac Games moving onto a multi-format future with Overstrike, this could well be the final Resistance title on the PS3. It was PS3 gamer’s first FPS love, but since then it has always been overshadowed by the technical powerhouse of Killzone. So how will the series bow out?
You now play as Joe Capelli, (R2 SPOILER!) the man forced to kill Nathan Hale as the Chimera virus finally overcame the former hero. Despite Capelli’s hand being forced, he was given a dishonourable discharge from the army. Four years later, the Chimera are still slowly strangling the remains of the human race from the earth and we find Capelli living with a small group of survivors and his wife and child.
Naturally the quiet can’t last, mainly thanks to one Dr. Malikov coming to find Joe to enable his help. The old doctor leads the enemy right to the base making for a frantic escape and a painful decision for Joe to leave his family and head to New York with the Doctor so they can destroy a tower that’s slowly freezing the world to death.
The first part of the game has you fighting the Chimera through farmland and ramshackle towns. Just as you’ve hit a strong pace of progressive violence, the game slumps into an underground mine level that has the game take its foot from the gas, killing the momentum. It recovers, but after the torturously slow boat level (see the demo), the game really didn’t need another slow one.
The first really exciting level involves a role-reversal. You’re the one being protected while unarmed and carrying a power cell after a botched ambush. You run through a rainstorm with leaper Chimera raining down on you too before a giant Widowmaker crashes the party. Combined with the cinematic sprint through the carnage and the stormy weather, it’s heart-pounding stuff.
R3 is at its best when you’re firing its fantastic range of weaponry, and thanks to the return of the weapon wheel, you can carry all of them at once after the disappointing two-weapon rule of R2. There’s no other game out there that constantly encourages you to swap between your weapons so much. Bullseye and marksman for hybrids, then shotgun when they get close, explosive magnum shots for leapers, EMP grenades for shock drones followed by almost every bullet you have to defeat a boss like a Widowmaker. It’s just a gun porn montage of awesome.
Weapons can be upgraded through extended use. Shotguns gain incendiary rounds, the bullseye gets extra tags, the marksman gets a scope and so on. Some of the crazier weaponry includes a cryogun that freezes enemies, allowing you to smash them to bits afterwards. There’s also a brutal sledgehammer and a gun that shoots out poisonous globs to infect enemies. The Ratchet & Clank influence is clear, and fans should keep an eye out for an Easter egg in one of the cutscenes.
Human enemies play a part this time in the shape of a group of escaped convicts calling themselves the Wardens. The level where you defend a train from them is a great spectacle as you blow up chasing vehicles and gape at the Chimera sponsored conclusion.
Also new to the series are the feral Chimera, creatures that were never militarised and simply roam the wilds. They still want to rip your face off, but they will also attack regular Chimera if their paths cross. The feral ones don’t have guns; most of them are faster versions of the lanky grims. There are some some new acid bursting enemies, but it’s the Widowmakers that really steal the show. These giant monsters vary from the ones found in the first game in that they have multiple stages to taking them down, involving shooting the glowing eyes, glands and guts. Shooting glowing parts of bosses is nothing new, but it is fun and it provides ideal feedback to knowing you’re attacking it effectively in the absence of a health bar.
Speaking of health bars, yours does not replenish over time, as unlike Hale, Joe is not infected with a strain of the Chimera virus. The first game had it best as you had four health bars with only the nearest one recharging. It struck a nice balance to the Halo model. This is old school though and it completely changes how you play, but for the better. Yes, it can be intimidating, but ultimately it provides a much more rewarding experience.
The checkpoints are generously placed for the most part. However, the game feels harder than ever before, especially the stage where you’re boxed in against four Stalkers (crab-like tanks) and you’re trying to avoid accidentally picking up the one health pack too soon. This is one of the many times you start to think the game was designed more for co-op.
We’re all for co-op campaigns, but Resistance 3 has an early stumble thanks to not allowing you to join forces with a stranger. Only people on your friends list (or offline split-screen) can join. So if nobody’s bought it, you’re going to have to go and recruit a new buddy during a few rounds of multiplayer.
PlayStation Move functionality isn’t as well implemented as in Killzone 3. Admittedly, it worked better there because of the cover system and auto-aim. The main culprit here is the sluggish aiming. The Chimera will eat you alive compared to using a DualShock.
Downsides of the campaign include a lack of varied locations and colour, small broken town after small broken town and survivor camps of people lying around complaining. The game is far from ugly and some of the weather effects are impressive, but there’s no attempt to truly wow you with any impressive vistas like that sight over the Golden Gate Bridge in R2. Most disappointing though is the conclusion, it’s achingly similar to the previous games and there’s not even a decent cutscene to go out on, there’s a severe ‘that’ll do’ feel to it. So it’s up to the multiplayer to keep us going after a mere six-hour campaign.
The first notable difference is the reduction in size from previous games. Gone are the 60-player games in favour of tighter 16-player games. The separate co-op modes are gone completely, which is a bit of a letdown, despite their flaws last time out. The weapons are upgradable, gaining similar functions from the campaign, although it’ll take time to get a nice collection.
You can look to the multiplayer to get your passport out and travel as the maps are based all over the world from Australia, New York, Europe and Wales. Despite their being twelve maps, I found that most modes painfully recycled the same handful repeatedly.
Modes on offer include deathmatch, team deathmatches, CTF, and modes involving dominating bases or destroying targets. The modes may be familiar, but at least there are a healthy range of perks and abilities to give your loadouts some depth. Standing bubble shields, healing beacons, radars, ammo drops, doppelganger buddies, radar-friendly silencers, auto-turrets, thermal vision, extended clips, armour, enemy footstep tracking, increased damage and quicker ability cooldowns are just a taste of what to expect. Hell, you can even have leapers sprout from your corpse to avenge you. Killstreaks are rewarded with temporary invisibility, wall-piercing augers and more.
If you enjoy the weapons of Resistance 3 (and you’d be a freak not to), then you’ll have fun online. However, some of the Killstreak rewards give strong players an unfair advantage and later unlocks will make life difficult for new players. A few minor laggy moments and team matches starting with 8vs3 are problems that I’m sure Insomniac will iron out before Overstrike starts to dominate their time.
- Fantastic range of weapons and the return of the weapon wheel
- Old-school health approach adds a refreshing challenge
- Fun, if occasionally unbalanced multiplayer
- 6 hour single-player experience
- Not enough wow moments
- Disappointing finale
The Short Version: Not the huge finale the PS3 deserved, with just a few flashes of cinematic brilliance. The return of the weapon wheel allowed Insomniac to show off one of the finest ranges of weapons in any shooter out there, but the Campaign is too damn short and safe. Multiplayer strays too close to other shooters apart from the inspired weapon selection. It’s not the sign-off we wanted from Insomniac Games, but we’re grateful for all the class PlayStation exclusives over the years.