As a PlayStation 3 launch title Resistance: Fall of Man was without doubt one of the best FPS offerings in the next-gen landscape. Since then Resistance 2 has been and gone, but for many (yours truly included) it didn’t quite hit the mark amongst an admittedly crowded and fiercely competitive genre. Fast forward to the present and Resistance 3 once again charges into an epic FPS storm, but this time around Insomniac’s effort has fired the first shot on the autumn release calendar. It’s a move which could well play into Resistance 3’s hands, should the franchise finally meet its lofty launch title aspirations. Does it manages to do exactly that? Read on to find out.
Game: Resistance 3
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
People who are familiar with the previous Resistance games will know the story has always been centred on humanities fight for survival against the ever multiplying Chimera virus which ravages its infected agents. The good news is that Resistance 3 moves time forward and humanities struggle is now effectively over with 90% of the world’s population eradicated. Only small pockets of underground communities now exist, scrounging for a living by any means necessary, choosing stealth and silence over all out combat. Clichéd “saving the world” stories don’t usually turn out too well, which is why it’s pleasing that Resistance 3 has taken a more personal direction with its tale, focusing on the trials and tribulations of father Joseph Capelli. His ambitions are simple, save his wife and ill son by defeating the Chimera at source in New York City. Setting aside the rather obvious locale choice for the finale of a blockbuster game, the story flows well and Capelli’s jaunt across the US is an interesting one to follow.
Sadly the campaign missions are a touch linear. The vistas portray the illusion of being wide open, but in reality the path is narrow and guided. Either by a comrade leading the way or being shackled by an AI driven vehicle, Resistance 3 can at times feels like a conveyor belt rather than a journey to the heart of the Chimera stronghold. The characters are the strong point though and despite the odd “underground yokel” ruining the moment, both voice acting and cutscenes are very impressive.
The graphics aren’t photo realistic by any means, but Resistance 3 carries its own artistic style which fits nicely within the franchise history and the depiction of infected America. What’s disappointing perhaps is that after a few years of criticism Resistance 3 still doesn’t seem to have shaken off the brown/grey colour palette which is found at every turn. Admittedly this opens up a touch towards the end, but the game still feels a bit in the doldrums. Yes, we get the world is over and that Chimera rule, but would a splash of colour here and there really destroy this quite obvious scenario? Probably not.
A decent story and believable characters are all well and good, but an FPS needs to shine where it matters; with gun in-hand. The gunplay in Resistance 3 is quite astounding at times, visually and in terms of its overall feel. Each weapon has its own weight and purpose, yet despite that you’ll almost immediately feel at ease. The controls feel so tight and so true, it really is a match for anything else on the market.
The guns themselves are varied and well thought out, each with its own pros and cons. The secondary fire function for weapons is particularly impressive, and so much fun. Initiated by a simple R2 press, you’ll have access to tracer darts when firing with the Bullseye, exploding rounds if you’re blasting away with the Magnum or the spectacular “Big Bang” if you’re carrying the Atomiser, which uses gravitational pull to rip enemies limb from limb. Again, the controls are here super tight and the variety is excellent. Whilst you might eventually end up with a favourite, the weapons in Resistance 3 cater for every single taste and never falter in terms of quality.
Another interesting design choice is the decision to drop the now widely adopted recovery method of restoring health. The screen goes red, you hide and in 10 seconds you’re back on your feet, fighting fit. That’s not the case in Resistance 3, as the old school health pack system is in full operation. It works well enough and is an interesting change, but it ultimately falters for the same reasons the recovery model was adopted in the first place. No-one wants to waste time scavenging through already visited path in order to hunt for a glowing green canister. There are other similar design decisions that end up grating too. Not because they are bad per se, but the way they have been implemented is so over used and dry for a 2011 blockbuster FPS. For instance, every time you clear a pocket of Chimera soldiers one of your comrades will shout “I think that’s all of them” or “that’s the last of them”, it’s unnecessary hand-holding in the extreme. You almost want to say, “I know the Chimera are all dead because I killed them”.
That brings us nicely on to the AI of your Chimera foes, which isn’t bad but it’s far from great either. It isn’t as simple a duck shoot and some differing behaviours are clearly visible, but these AI behaviours are species related only, rather than genuine battle intelligence. Long Legs jump around, Brawlers brawl and soldiers…well, soldier. It’s never challenging to the point where you’re killed by anything other than Chimera fire superiority.
As you’d expect, Resistance 3 is littered with its fair share of boss battles and huge enemies to dispatch. Graphically, the work put in here by the Insomniac team is outstanding, with the rubble and debris generated by the sheer size of some of the monsters expertly portrayed. The boss battles themselves are very enjoyable, but they are hampered by some overly familiar monster design. More often than not you’ll end up directing your fire at parts of their body which glow, then after 2 or 3 rounds you’ll be greeted by scripted animation sequence telling you the battle is won. The boss battles are gripping, intense and at times spectacular, but they’re not exactly the most innovative.
Perhaps it’s a tad harsh to “pick on” Resistance 3, as these familiar design choices are rolled out in quite a few games these days. Credit where it’s due, Insomniac has implemented them better than most. However, with other well-known first-person shooters on the horizon, Resistance 3 fails to really shake things up and make itself stand out.
Where Resistance 3 does strike an impressive blow though is in the multiplayer arena, it’s always been a strong point of the series and this third entry continues the trend. The mad 60 player battles from Resistance 2 have now gone, replaced with more cohesive and engaging 16 player firefights. The single player campaign is more personal and the multiplayer has thankfully followed suit.
Resistance 3 also has its own perks system now which adds another layer of intrigue beyond the weapon upgrades and levelling up. The only problem really is that as a newcomer entering the multiplayer arena, the learning curve is steep. The journey through the first few levels can grind at times as your cloaking, shooting through walls enemies have the upper hand. Inexperienced FPS gamers may be turned off by this, but once you get into your stride things level out nicely. It’s just a shame your first impressions of a largely excellent multiplayer offering are tarnished ever so slightly.
If fantastic gunplay, an emotional story driven campaign, fierce boss battles, artistic graphics and addictive multiplayer are your thing, then Resistance 3 comes highly recommended.
But (yes, there’s a but) Resistance 3 is lacking that innovative edge, that something new which really grabs you and shows the FPS genre isn’t out of ideas just yet. It’s all very familiar in terms of its design and because of that, the barrier for entry is incredibly low. Perhaps too low for a game which almost defined the PS3 first-person shooter landscape many years ago.
It’s sad to say this, but once the big hitters come out to play later in the year, Resistance 3 will be no more than an enjoyable blip on the gaming radar. However, judged on its own individual merits, Resistance 3 is as good as, if not better, than anything else currently on the market.