Review: Resistance 3

Resistance3.jpg

Worlds ravaged by aliens are nothing new to video games. In fact swarms of aliens invading Earth have been a cornerstone to many games over the years.  Video games have also tackled alternate history, be it the Fallout series, the BioShock titles, Singularity, or even the various S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. “What if” scenarios can be a delight to experience as long as the story and gameplay are woven together without one overshadowing the other. But first-person shooters aren’t typically known for having complex stories or rich environments that tell a story all on their own.  Run and gun military landscapes constantly barrage the gaming scene with stories that seem to be created by throwing darts at a board connecting locations to  past or current military engagements.  Insomniac Games aims to change this with the third installment of their own take on alternate history meets alien invasion in Resistance 3.

As developed in the first two games, the Chimera are an alien race which have taken over the world through virus mutations as well as mutation processing plants.  In the first two games players controlled Nathan Hale, a hero who was infected with the Chimeran virus but was able to resist the mutations long enough to do some serious damage to the alien infrastructure.  During the course of the second title, Hale was joined by other soldiers who were infected but also were able to resist the mutations due to an anti-virus.  Among these soldiers was one Joseph Capelli, who was an angry, no-nonsense killing machine.  So much so that at the end of Resistance 2, he put a bullet in Hale’s head.  At the time the killing was justified as Hale had allowed the Chimeran virus to fully take over his body and was ready to help lead the aliens toward wiping out the rest of the human resistance.

Jump to the beginning of Resistance 3 and Joseph Capelli explains that his actions did two things.  With Hale dying, researchers were able to take his blood and create a vaccine to stop the further spread of Chimeran infections.  The downside to Hale’s death was that Capelli was dishonorably discharged from the Army.  This is one plot point that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  Hmmm, let’s see.  Huge alien invasion, devastating the entire world.  A super soldier, capable of defeating hundreds if not thousands of Chimera on his own, kills another super soldier.  And the Army would rather kick one of the best fighters out of their ranks than put him back on the front lines to help defend what remains of the human race?  I digress…  Because Capelli is discharged he is able to find the love of his life, Susan, who helps him discover life is worth living, even in the face of almost certain extinction at the hands of the Chimera.

Flash forward four years to when the gameplay begins and we find that Capelli and his wife now have a young son and are living in a somewhat prosperous town of Haven, OK.  It’s the little touches that really show the frailty, yet conviction of the remaining humans in Haven.  Walking through the initial area, Capelli sees families huddled together, playing little games, or crafting essential tools or commenting on the fate of the crops due to the coming cold.  After a brief tutorial on how to shoot, all hell breaks loose and the tension envelopes the small close knit community as they quietly prepare for a potential razing by the Chimera.  Sneaking underground from one location to another to track the patrolling Chimera, we are shown just how entrenched Haven residents are in the event that Chimeran forces do strike.

Of course, an empty bottle of beer is what  reveals that humans are in fact hiding just beyond the walls that the Chimeran are patrolling by.  Once discovered, the fighting kicks in and Insomniac wastes no time in throwing Hybrid grunts and a large Stalker to dispatch the humans in Haven.  With the help of Capelli, the Chimeran forces are stopped long enough for the player to meet Dr. Malikov who, it can be said, is to blame for most of the events in the previous games.  Malikov has come in search of Capelli to help him destroy a wormhole in New York City which is causing cold temperatures to fall across the globe benefiting the aliens who need thermal packs to help regulate their temperatures.

Realizing Malikov won’t be able to close the wormhole on his own, Capelli joins Malikov on a journey which takes them through St. Louis, MO, Mt. Pleasant, PA, Gratersford Prison and finally to Washington Square in New York City.  During the journey Capelli meets the best and worst of humans who have managed to survive the Chimeran invasion.  Remnant fighters in St. Louis show that militia groups are alive and well, causing grief whenever they can.  A group of almost religious extremists in Mt. Pleasant, PA show a side of humanity willing to see an alien invasion with a religious meaning, driving them with fervor to continue in their faith hoping a higher power will help win over the Chimeran forces. The worst of humanity is brought out in the “Wardens” of Gratersford Prison, forcing the weak to either fight in the Pit against feral Chimera, or do the bidding of the cannibalistic Wardens.  Facing the last leg of the journey alone, Capelli sends out a broadcast to his wife saying he has reached his goal but is not sure if he has the strength to go it alone.

As in Resistance 2, radio broadcasts play an important role in helping to carry the story along where exposition isn’t able to be given in moments of shooting. One complaint I had with R2 was all story moments were basically told during cut scenes or hidden pieces of intel, but this time around story is more evenly dished out between cut scenes, radio broadcast, pieces of intel, as well as narrative banter between the various groups Capelli meets along his travels.  Resistance 3 tells a much more human story, because everyone that Capelli encounters is isolated to their own little part of the world with little interactions from the non-existent military.  In R2, every location seen was due in part to a military exercise; in R3, every location is due to humans helping humans. Every location feels natural and plausible.

While the environments and traveling from one location to another feels natural, the icing on the cake that really brings out the enjoyment of seeing each new location is combat.  In Resistance: Fall of Man, weapons could be switched back and forth via a weapon wheel.  Resistance 2 removed the wheel to the detriment of the game.  Insomniac brought the weapon wheel back, fortunately for R3, giving the player a choice on how to approach each encounter.  This is what makes R3 so much fun.  Playing through a battle, facing death, switching to a different weapon with different methods for dispatching enemies, and coming out at the end of a battle alive is a fantastic feeling.  Learning how each weapon and it’s alternative fire works takes no time at all, and using a weapon repeatedly automatically earns a power boost to each weapon.

Another gameplay aspect that was brought back from R:FoM is the health system.  As Capelli takes damage, a circular meter ticks away and tinges of red slowly fill the field of view on screen.  Health doesn’t regenerate, adding a level of urgency to defeating enemies so that the random health pack that is dropped can be used.  Tense moments are made even more so when precious life is dwindling and the only way to gain health is to take out a nasty, hulking Ravager to pick up the glowing health pack dangling from it’s hip.

Resistance 3 is truly a great single player experience.  There are certainly touches of other big shooters from the past peppered throughout (Half-Life 2 comes to mind) but the care in which the human story is crafted really shines and gives a greater meaning to that which is being fought for.  Story, character, pacing, combat and the music round out the experience to make Resistance 3 the best shooter that I’ve played this year.

Insomniac didn’t rest on only making a fantastic single player experience though.  The game also offers a co-operative split-screen experience which works well aside from the fact that there is now suddenly a second person standing around in some of the poignant story moments which can break the mood.  Story co-op is not just left to couch co-op but online as well.  Playing the game on Superhuman in online co-op with a friend is a perfect way to share in the excitement of putting down wave after wave of feral Chimera.

In addition to co-op, there are several different competitive modes, consisting of the usual Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and Wargames to name a few.  Personally, I’m not a huge fan of deathmatch games, but the multiplayer modes with objectives and team-based actions are fun and quick to pick up on what each side needs to do to win.  As with other online multiplayer shooters, Resistance 3 also has unlocks which are earned by gaining experience points for kills, objective completion, team wins, etc.  Unlocks earned vary from new weapons available to new character skins to choose from as well as perks that provide bonus damage or health depending on the perk.  Matchmaking load times are minimal at the moment, as there is a large active community supporting the game and matches are easy to find.  One complaint that could be leveled against the multiplayer aspect of the game, though, is that currently there is no web based stat tracking available outside of the game.  Forum posts for R3 indicate that this feature is coming, but it seems like a missed opportunity to not have that feature working at the launch of the game.  One of the main reasons for multiplayer staying power is the ability to show off your stats.  While this is a minor quibble, there is certainly a desire from fans of FPS games to be able to compare and learn from offline stats.

One final note I’d like to mention is the fact that Resistance 3 supports both 3D TVs as well as the Move controller.  I do not have a 3D TV to play the game and test out that functionality, but I do have a Sharpshooter gun for the Move and Nav controllers.  Playing the game with the Sharpshooter took a few minutes to acclimate to the new control scheme, but I quickly found playing that way to be almost more natural.  My only real complaint with using the Sharpshooter is that it is not as easy to pan the view on screen back and forth and also sit comfortably on my couch.  I found the controls worked best when I was standing or at least perched on the edge of my couch without my back rubbing up against the couch when I moved to look left or right.  Of course, using the Move with the Sharpshooter is completely optional, but certainly can add to the immersion of the experience.

For fans of first-person shooters that tell a story, Resistance 3 is a title that cannot be missed. For fans of a great co-op experience as well as fun competitive multiplayer, this game also has plenty to offer. Resistance 3 continues the tale of the Chimeran invasion of Earth while also showing that humanity has plenty to fight for. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and go buy Resistance 3. The resistance needs you!

BuyIt.jpg

Pros:
+ Engaging story
+ Fun combat
+ Co-op story mode

Cons:
– Local split screen co-op doesn’t expand full screen
– Multiplayer stat tracking is not available out of game

Affiliate Links:
Buy from AmazonPS3 Games) or eStarland

Game Info:
Platform: PS3
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: 9/6/2011
Genre: FPS
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1-16 (8-on-8 online multiplayer; 2-player split-screen and online co-op)
Source: Review copy provided by publisher

[nggallery id=2088]

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.