Game Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Resistance 3
The Resistance franchise has been a staple of the PS3 line-up ever since the first game, Resistance: Fall of Man, was released as a Sony launch title in November of 2006. The game was, for the most part, a critical and commercial success – with a fully realized single player campaign and addictive multiplayer component. On top of an immersive setting (an alternate-history 1950’s storyline), the game’s biggest draw was the myriad of imaginative weaponry from developer Insomniac Games – that protagonist Nathan Hale accumulated throughout the campaign (or leveling up in multiplayer).
Resistance 2 was released two years later and continued Hale’s story but made significant alterations to the core franchise mechanics – adding Halo-like regenerative health as well as a “two guns at a time” limit in the campaign. While players were mixed on regenerative health, the limitation on available weaponry was universally decried by fans of the franchise – since it essentially stripped away the most successful aspect of the original title, killing Chimeran enemies in a variety of crazy (as well as satisfying and immensely entertaining) ways. As a result, Insomniac Games went back to the drawing board for the third installment in the Resistance series, Resistance 3, but did the developer successfully recapture what made the original title stand-out while also pushing the franchise forward in scale and scope – to compete in an already over-saturated first-person-shooter market?
Fortunately, the answer is an enthusiastic yes. Not only does Resistance 3 reclaim its unique spot in the modern FPS landscape (redacting regenerative health and limited weapon selection), the title also offers some of the most impressive (and immersive) action set-pieces available on any console. The believable vision of 1950’s middle-America is made possible through a mix of enjoyable character interactions, large-scale ground war firefights, and massive alien baddies that are juxtaposed against a bleak and gritty post-World War 2 landscape.
Unlike its predecessor, which lost sight of the human “resistance” (largely in favor of remote locales and bland spaceships), Resistance 3 once again grounds players in the crumbling remains of local “main street” towns and familiar cityscapes (such as New York and St. Louis). In addition, unlike Nathan Hale (who was mostly just a Gears of War-type army grunt), the latest Resistance game lands players in the shoes of Joe Capelli, a former member of Hale’s team – a returning character who turned his back on the organized SRPA forces to protect his wife and young son in a remote underground outpost in Haven, Oklahoma.
Of course, Capelli cannot hide from his former life forever, as the character gets caught-up in a cross-country journey (and last ditch effort) to not just survive but destroy the Chimera once and for all. Unlike prior installments, which were military-heavy and followed a scattered target/objective structure, Capelli’s human journey ups the stakes and makes the character significantly more interesting to watch – as he interacts with other survivors along a (mostly) linear path to New York City. It’s a much more controlled narrative experience – successfully merging immersive on-screen set-pieces with meaningful character (as well as overarching canon) development.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Insomniac has created some very interesting settings and dilemmas for Capelli to work through – including a boat trip through flooded small-town Kansas, an underground rescue mission, and even a Walking Dead-esque prison scenario, to name a few. While the game may not successfully recreate demolished New York City on the same scale as Crysis 2, the 1950’s era setting (albeit augmented-with-alien-tech) serves as an intriguing backdrop for plenty of enjoyable gameplay moments – some of which are genuinely breathtaking. That said, the structure of the levels skew from the traditional “ramp-up to a boss battle” progression – so some players may find the ebb-and-flow of the game to be a little uneven at times.
Certain chapters that started off with a bang, devolve into defending a location against a horde of on-coming enemies or protecting a non-player-character while they complete an objective of their own. These traditional/cliche gameplay elements are definitely not frequent (and are often accompanied by a new weapon to test out) but could, for players expecting a diverse set of chapter ending boss-battles, fall a bit flat. However, for a game about alien-human hybrids taking over the planet, the pacing and content of the levels make sense for the story and experience at hand – instead of throwing uninspired creatures or machines (that don’t actually fit into the canon) at the player, just to offer a more traditional video game progression.
Even if Resistance 3 reuses a few of the larger boss baddies from time to time, given the player’s growing (and upgradable) arsenal of weaponry, each of the battles ends up fresh and enjoyable – which is made easy by the large (and increasingly entertaining) set of weapons in the game. Throughout the campaign, players will be granted access to 11 weapons (a mix of human and Chimera tech) – each with a powerful secondary function as well as two upgrades. Upgrades are earned simply by using the weapon at no cost (besides the ammo of course) to the player – when enough damage has been accumulated, the weapon will gain new functionality and a souped-up look. For example, the Auger Mark II, which fires high-energy bolts that pass through solid objects (such as cover) and deploys an energy shield (as a secondary function) will earn a horizontal three bolt shot at Level 2 and upgrade the secondary shield (with the ability to damage nearby enemies) at Level 3. As a result, even with all the weapons unlocked (which will happen 2/3 of the way through the game), there’s plenty of opportunity for the arsenal to evolve – and, subsequently, plenty of on-the-ground strategies for a player to utilize. This is doubly true since Resistance 3 allows players to carry the full weapons locker – and select the appropriate tool of destruction via a weapon wheel. Not to mention, upgrades carry-over to new playthroughs and difficulties – offering plenty of replay value.
Creative killing combinations are especially enjoyable in the game’s co-operative mode. In prior Resistance titles, co-op mode was relegated to a set of side missions, and while the experience was certainly enjoyable, Resistance 3 ups the ante by bringing co-op to the main campaign, through local split-screen or online co-op. The story itself changes very little – following the exploits of Joe Capelli but, this time, with an additional character “John,” by his side. Unfortunately, John is rarely acknowledged – except for a few fun nods: i.e. a shooting range mini-game (instead of the normal tutorial) during the opening chapter.
For anyone who hasn’t completed the game solo first, John might somewhat undercut the emotional impact of Joe’s journey and story; although, dispatching Chimera with a fully-loaded partner toward the end of the game is a blast – as the weaponry offers some truly enjoyable tag-team opportunities. For example, one player might lob a cloud of Mutator gas into a crowd of Chimera hybrids – allowing player two to fire-off the Rossmore’s concussion blast, exploding the downed and mutating bodies into a mess of green slime (that can infect other enemies in the blast radius).
Of course, co-op isn’t the only multiplayer mode available in Resistance 3 – as Insomniac has spent an enormous amount of time refining the online competitive offerings as well. Some returning players may, initially, be put-off by the scaled-down size of the battles (down from 60 player matches, in some cases, to 16) but, ultimately, the tightening is a clear success – considering, with all the crazy weapons for players to utilize, the Resistance 2 battlefield was a bit chaotic. The lower player count leaves a lot of room for gamers to actually explore maps and strategize – instead of spending the majority of their time trying to dodge a gaggle of camping snipers.
The leveling structure is similar to any other FPS on the market, with weapons, tech powers, perks, and upgrades unlocked (and subsequently purchased with skill points) at different levels. While players are able to customize the contents of their load-outs, the actual weapons and perks don’t offer the same level of specialization that veteran Call of Duty players might like – but, given the creativity and enjoyable application of the weapons (as well as the same powerful upgrades from the campaign), very few gamers are going to fret over whether or not they can add an under-barrel attachment to their Marksman rifle (which comes standard with an automatic turret) or put a red dot site on their Atomizer (which shoots a powerful stream of electricity at enemies).
Game modes are pretty standard fare as well: Death Match, Capture the Flag, Chain Reaction (capture points on the map), Breach (defend or destroy assets on the map), among others. However, given the crazy weaponry and interesting tech (such as a dummy projection, deployable bubble shield, or invisibility, to name a few) even the most standard game modes give rise to fresh and enjoyable multiplayer mayhem. While it’s certainly not the most realistic shooter on the market, there’s no doubt that Resistance 3 offers some of the most enjoyable, and at times loony, gunplay available on a console title.
Resistance 3 is a successful refinement of Insomniac’s previous attempts with the franchise – elevating the series above a premiere first party offering to one of the must have FPS titles currently available for consoles. While Killzone has long been considered the frontrunner for Sony’s answer to Halo, Resistance 3 delivers a convincing argument that the PS3 doesn’t have to be a one-trick FPS pony – and that there’s plenty of room on the console for great (single player and online multiplayer) sci-fi FPS experiences.
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Resistance 3 is out now – exclusively on the Sony PS3.