When Sony launched the PlayStation 3 back in 2006, Resistance: Fall of Man was, quite literally their ‚Äúpi√®ce de r√©sistance‚ÄĚ. Since that time, the post-apocalyptic shooter that chronicles a chilling and devastating invasion has gone on to sell millions of copies, both on the PS3 and Sony‚Äôs hand-held consoles (with an up-coming game lined-up for the PS Vita as well).
Although alien themed shooters are about as common as STDs on a Contiki tour, Resistance proved a hit due to its well-honed gameplay mechanics and unique story twist that featured an alternative timeline. The story takes place here on Earth in the 1950‚Äôs, when the pinnacle of human technological advancements includes crude ultrasound and Tefal non-stick frypans. Originating in Britain, the world is exposed to an alien-like invasion by a species known as the Chimera. With their ruthless temperament, advanced weaponry and ability to increase their numbers through mutation, both Europe and the United States of America fall to the Chimera‚Äôs forces. It appears that mankind is doomed.
It‚Äôs a far departure for developer Insomniac games, who cut their teeth creating cute platformers of the likes of Spyro and Ratchet & Clank. Even more impressive though, despite high praises for their previous efforts, it appears Insomniac are still improving with every game they make. Resistance 3 could possibly be the best title in the series so far.
Resistance 3 takes place in 1957 and by now, the multi-eyed Chimeran forces have truly taken hold. Humankind is nearly extinct and the invaders are currently terraforming the planet into a harsh icy environment that they can thrive in. As one of mankind‚Äôs few survivors Joseph Capelli (returning from the climax of Resistance 2), you are forced to leave the woman you love, abandon your only child and join a possibly delusional scientist on a seemingly hopeless mission to interrupt the Chimeran take-over.
Capelli isn‚Äôt a super-soldier or a wise cracking badass. He‚Äôs a reluctant hero stuck in the middle of a terrible situation. Resistance 3 constantly reminds you of this, from the heart-wrenching decisions you‚Äôll have to make through to the simple reminder of a wedding band on your finger every time you reload your gun or open a door. It gives the game a beautiful sense of fragile human survival against all-odds.
The gameplay mechanics have hardly been touched since previous Resistance games. The controls are still smooth and responsive and Insomniac have tweaked their solid shooting dynamics, while also adding in Move controls for a more realistic feel. However, while the second Resistance title felt repetitive in parts (especially towards the end), this time around Insomniac appear to have taken great pains in ensuring that the experience is constantly changing from mission to mission. For example you may be involved in an epic fire-fight with bullets hailing down all around you as you scramble for cover shooting wildly. The next minute you‚Äôll be anxiously floating down a dark, foggy Mississippi river straining to see what lies ahead. Further on you‚Äôll be picking off enemies in a dense forest with a sniper rifle or battling huge Chimera bosses who take up most of the screen.
Fans will be happy to hear that the franchise‚Äôs inventive range of arsenal is still a main feature too. Despite being the late 1950‚Äôs when human weapons are slow, ineffective and clunky, the Chimera have brought with them their own range of mighty firearms. The Bullseye rifle lets you tag enemies so that all of your following rounds home in on your target no matter what you are aiming at. It‚Äôs extremely useful against a variety of fast-moving enemies that are hard to keep your cross-hair pinned on. The Auger energy weapon lets you fire through walls and displays heat signatures for checking your surroundings without being seen.
Resistance 3 introduces new weapons too, such as the Deadeye, an alien-tech sniper rifle that will go through just about anything, including multiple bad guys if you have them lined up. If this seems like a bit too much hard-work, you could always give the Atomiser a go. This gun lights up the entire room like its Christmas before destroying everything in its path with an electrical mini-tornado of pain. The Mutator is another new tasty addition and emits a biological mist that causes enemies to explode in a disturbingly pleasing manner.
The list goes on and it‚Äôs important to note that every weapon in the game has a primary and secondary function as well, giving way to a huge plethora of things that go boom. Not to mention the impressive upgrade system that rewards you for using particular guns for extended periods and enhances said weapon the longer you persist with it. It‚Äôs a refreshing change from all of those FPS games that demand that you constantly keep picking up new guns, just for the sake of it. Sticking to your tried and true .44 Magnum through-out the entire game will be a trial, but at least you know that it will be appreciated. All the upgrades are visible ones too, adding detail and extra shiny bling to your gun as you progress.
On top of a solid single-player campaign stretching from Oklahoma across to a crumbling New York City, Resistance 3 also has worthy multiplayer gameplay that includes maps in Africa and across the ditch (in Australia). It features an online 16 player competitive component with five modes on offer. There are the standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag options, but the game also sees the return of Resistance‚Äôs Chain Reaction and Breach modes. Both these types are domination-themed modes where teams strategically compete to take control of points around map.
For every multiplayer match you have the option of using pre-determined load-outs or completely customising your preferred kit, including abilities and player appearance through skins. Just like the singleplayer, the multiplayer is fast-paced and fluid with excellent map design. Next to the competitive multiplayer, Resistance 3 also includes a two-player co-operative mode to let you play through the campaign with a friend, whether online or via split-screen. When playing co-op, the gameplay adjusts to suit two-player conditions and the second player controls a new character not pivotal to the storyline.*
Lastly, Resistance 3 isn‚Äôt going to win any awards in the visual department. The animations and physics are brilliant, but the environments and characters definitely lack the level of detail and dynamic lighting that many PS3 gamers will be used to. The graphics are gritty and sometimes dreary, but admittedly the grey and brown palette reinforces the devastation that the Chimera have brought upon the planet, creating a dramatic atmosphere. More importantly though, the above-average graphics do an adamant job of carrying you through what really matters in Resistance 3 - the gripping and harrowing story. Think of it as an interactive blend of Cormac McCarthy‚Äôs The Road meets District 9. It‚Äôs a must play for fans of the previous games, but a solid sci-fi shooter for those new to the Resistance franchise as well.
Stay tuned for NZGamer.com‚Äôs interview with John Paquette, one of the lead writers from Insomniac games.
To read more about Resistance 3's multiplayer, you can read fellow reviewer Dene‚Äôs impressions here