Resistance 3 [Review]
September 5, 2011
When an established franchise turns away from its main character and puts the players in control of someone else in a sequel, there is always a chance that fans will feel alienated. Thankfully, this will almost certainly not be the case when it comes to Insomniac supplanting the late Nathan Hale with his killer, Joseph Capelli. Yes, Resistance 3 puts gamers into the boots of a new character, but it manages to retain the atmosphere of the series while delivering a more personal experience than in past games. And besides, were any of you that in love with Nathan Hale to begin with?
That being said, Capelli is hardly one of gaming’s best main characters, either. He does, however, have far more personality and has more motivation to be fighting this seemingly hopeless war against the Chimera. Bleak is the world that Joseph lives in; the Chimera have long since conquered all corners of the USA, and people are forced to live in underground ghettos to avoid the “death squads” that seek to eliminate the mere 10% of humans that have not been killed or converted into hybrids.
Furthermore, poor old Joe has gotten a bad rap among Americans because he was forced to kill off the heroic Hale at the conclusion of Resistance 2. Thing is, Insomniac fails to make the guy out to be the true pariah that they want you to believe he is. The community he lives with respects him as a protector against the Chimera and he regularly makes friends without any trouble during his travels from Oklahoma to New York City. The guy is also too much of a superhuman, as he regularly does things that would make Master Chief envious.
Several wooden beams weighing a few hundred pounds each need to be lifted up; no problem, Capelli’s got this. There’s an enormous underground beast that has killed hundreds of armed men? Not to worry, Capelli will take him down almost all by his lonesome. The terrafroming tower in NYC that is the base of Chimera operations has to be destroyed and there is an endless swarm of baddies in the way? Well, he actually does run into some trouble there. Still, after being blown apart by hundreds of enemies, he just dusts himself off and jumps right back into the fray.
These actions sort of clash with the every-man persona they attempt to give “Joe” by giving him a wife and son, inserting him into a downtrodden life in which families are trying to make the best of things and throwing seemingly insurmountable odds against Joe and the rest of humanity. Exacerbating the problem is the prominent role played by the returning Dr. Malikov. This guy is pretty much phoning in the same eastern European scientist guy with the brilliant plan that you’ve seen in just about every sci-fi movie and game ever made.
Despite Insomniac’s failure to create a world and characters that are up to snuff with the many other more convincing post-apocalyptic atmospheres that gamers have seen in recent years, the actual campaign – playable in single player or on/offline co-op – is incredibly fun. As mentioned, Capelli needs to trek his way from the American heartland all the way to NYC – no small task considering that the country’s infrastructure lies in ruins and Chimeran threats lurk around every corner.
Along the way players will see some cool set pieces such as a herd of stampeding feral Widowmakers and a rotted out corpse of a Kraken. For the most part, the missions take a high-adrenaline run-and-gun approach that has the player constantly fighting for his life. Expect to regularly have your health run down to almost nil and panic a bit at the remaining onslaught only to come across a health pack at the last possible second. There are also a handful of boss battles that essentially boil down to “shoot the glowing weak spot,” but are still a blast to play through mostly because of the fantastic arsenal at your disposal (more on the guns shortly).
The game does occasionally slow things down for a few moments to let players catch their breath and get a closer look at the somber, war-torn society that people are living in; but these segments are few. There’s also some breaks from tradition such as an on-rails mine cart sequence and the train defense stage that you can see in the video below. And I particularly enjoyed one level that completely abandons the man vs. Chimera formula. Actually, the Chimera do turn up there eventually, too, but it makes for a genuinely battlefield in which three factions are blasting away at each other.
Getting back to those legions of aggressive Chimera, they are broken up into both feral and military types. There’s a decent amount of enemy variety as a result and Insomniac has included plenty of options for disposing of them. Classics like the Bullseye SMG and the cheap but incredibly fun Auger, with its ability to shoot through walls, make a return. There’s also a healthy dose of new weaponry and the developers made the decision to not limit how many guns can be carried at once. This means never having to sacrifice that sniper rifle you love so much in order to pick up the ridiculously cool Atomizer.
All of the guns in the game can be leveled up twice as well, which adds some awesome new functionality like a better scope or incendiary ammo. Speaking of which, once I gained the ability to shoot shells that lit baddies on fire with the Rossmoore Shotgun, it became one of my favorite weapons and regular standbys. Even more enjoyable is the secondary feature of the Atomizer. The weapon is capable of firing off a device that projects and electrical field into the air which then gravitates enemies towards it and whips them around in a hurricane of electrical destruction. Meanwhile, you can turn your attention to any Chimera it missed and start lighting them up with the Rossmoore; popping their skulls to smithereens with the Deadeye sniper rifle or blowing them all to bits with the Wildfire rocket launcher.
The ability to approach combat with guns that legitimately posses very different traits is a large part of what makes Resistance 3 so much fun, and it is what will keep you playing up until the credits roll. Of course, that has always been the main attraction of the franchise, but know that it works again in tremendous fashion in this third PS3 outing.
Sadly, you don’t have access to the full arsenal when first starting out with the competitive multiplayer. In fact, players are limited to just a standard issue carbine in the beginning. The multiplayer then follows the standard CoD approach of handing out experience points for performances on the battlefield and then slowly opening up new weapons and abilities. I’ve never much cared for that type of setup, largely due to the absurd disadvantage it puts newcomers at; but if that’s your thing, then you’ll find plenty here to keep you busy at least until the holiday blockbuster shooters arrive.
As mentioned, players also have abilities in multiplayer now. These include an hologram that awkwardly stands/runs right next to you and generally doesn’t do a sufficient job of fooling just about anyone paying attention to what’s going on; a protective ring that turns damage back against enemies; a dome shield that blocks projectiles, and a number of other things meant to mix up combat.
Ultimately the multiplayer makes for some enjoyable romps, but there are numerous better options out there for PS3 players. Still, I think most players will enjoy it for a while and be glad they did before moving onto the next big thing. Predicting how a community will take to online multiplayer can be a tricky affair, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how popular the servers are a few months in.
On the graphics side, Resistance 3 is competent enough but will never be confused with Sony’s other big exclusive sci-fi FPS threequel. The lip-syncing is a bit off in places and the animation used for the close-up counter-melee attack is about the most awkward thing I’ve ever seen in a game; but these are small complaints, to be sure. More important is that the Chimera look menacing and the carnage from the guns mowing them down looks great. Also know that the game froze up on me twice while playing, so that’s something to be leery of.
Resistance 3 doesn’t quite construct the type of wonderful in a depressing, terrifying sort of atmosphere that other games have built in recent years. It does, however, do a superior job in this area than its predecessors. Capelli isn’t quite the next big video game star, but he is a marked improvement over Hale. The diverse range of weapons available to you and the satisfying carnage they dole out are reasons enough to get absorbed in the campaign and take the multiplayer for a few spins.
Out Of 5
There's some funky lip-syncing an the counter-melee animation is a clumsy, bumbling mess. The game also froze up on me a couple of times. Those minor grumblings aside, Resistance 3 is competent in appearance but can't stack up to the showpiece shooters on the system.
Solid voice work and sound effects - even if Malikov's Eastern Bloc shtick is a bit hammy. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about the soundtrack, but it gets the job done.
Insomniac deserves a lot of credit here for doing something that every console FPS developer should be doing, but that few actually are doing: implementing fully customizeable controls. My sole complaint is the inability to be able to toggle your scope on and off. In all other control aspects, this is what all console shooters should strive for.
The campaign is linear and doesn't explore any territory that shooters haven't before, but it is nevertheless strong from beginning to end.
Incendiary shotgun shells, lasers that shoot through walls, electrical vortex traps, hedgehog grenades and explosive revolver bullets make for run-and-gun bliss. It's a similar formula to the previous two games in the series, but that's not at all a bad thing - especially when you factor in the new toys.