Review: Resistance 3
Resistance 3 is Insomniac Games' best effort at refreshing and at the same time continuing the Resistance Series. Does this one step back to take two steps forward methodology work?
- Worth The Time?Absolutely
- Things LovedRefreshing and unique FPS experience. Great visuals and even greater weapons.
- Things HatedThe occasional clipping issue.
- RecommendationA refreshing and unique FPS that any fan of the FPS genre and that owns a PS3 should experience.
- Name: Resistance 3
- Genre: FPS
- Players: Campaign (1-2) Multiplayer (2-16)
- Multiplayer: Yes
- Platforms: PS3
- Developer: Insomniac Games
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Price: For now (R515)
- Reviewed On: PS3
Before I begin, I must apologise for what may amount to be a pretty shoddy review. I finished this review at 2:30am and have had hardly any sleep for the last couple of days. Thanks to our (in their own time) post office services and (we work when we feel like it) Eskom, I only just managed to finish the review. Yet as is the way in South Africa, my efforts were reduced to naught as my (well you’ll get over it) ISP has rendered me without internet access and so I am unable to upload it now. Why should I worry so much about services delaying me? Surely the game is new enough for most PS3 owners to still be deciding whether to buy it yet? Well it comes down to this. Resistance 3 is an awful lot of fun and if you have a PS3, I want you to seriously consider going out and buying Resistance 3 right now.
So why is it so good? Having been a long time fan of the Halo series; I have to admit, I went into the original Resistance with a slightly closed mind. I never intended to feel that way. Yet despite how many feel about the Halo series, I dare anyone to try the game and then legitimately find fault in the controls or quality of gameplay. Yes, the multiplayer is immensely fun and yes, my favourite of the series, Halo Reach, represents (for me at least) a zenith in multiplayer experiences. But it was the controls that concerned me. Especially since the gamepad control scheme meant I had originally shied away from console FPS games. I was one of those (all too common) PC enthusiasts with the preconceived notion that you could never replace a good old mouse and keyboard. So as you can imagine, after finally having bought a PS3, and with a long standing love for the Xbox 360 FPS; I felt especially awkward playing my first PS3 FPS, Killzone 2. Don’t get me wrong, the games great, but the controls where somewhat lacking and so before I played the original Resistance, I wasn’t exactly sold on PS3 FPS experience. Resistance 1 changed all that though. For a release title the graphics were great and the story, while a little sparse, had its charm and kept me interested. Best of all, the controls were great and it was the game that convinced me to love FPS games on the PS3 as much as the Xbox.
With that being said, Resistance 3 certainly has its work cut out for it. So after a long but not unreasonable install time, let the resistance begin, dun dun dun. Now as I’m sure you’re no doubt aware, sometimes you need to take one step back in order to take two steps forward. Insomniac Games, developers of the Resistance series, has done just that with Resistance 3 and I’m delighted to tell you that it has absolutely worked. Gone is the two weapon limit of Resistance 2 and let’s welcome back the health bar of Resistance 1. These changes, while puzzling at first glance, give back Resistance’s unique feel and so I happily welcome them. Resistance 3, more than anything now, feels like an FPS that fits the PS3. Something I much prefer over generically emulating an already crowded and hugely serious FPS market. More than that though, the health bar epitomises your frailty; now that you’re no longer the super soldier Nathan Hale. It reminds you that you are not Master Chief or Kratos; that as a resistance member, you need to be more strategic about your combat. That’s not to say you can’t go out guns blazing, you can. In fact, the power wheel’s return provides a wide assortment of weaponry goodness and encourages gun ho experimentation. It’s just that you need to make use of the space given and take cover when appropriate. So with all the changes and reversions done to Resistance 3, Insomniac Games has decided, as many more developers should, limiting your fire power (while realistic to a point) often enough limits the fun. Basically, Insomniac Games has scrapped anything deemed not in the gamers’ best interest. In this case, that means anything not satisfyingly fun.
Before we continue, and for anyone following the Resistance series, Nathan Hale (to put it bluntly) is dead and so no longer the protagonist of Resistance 3. So why are we not playing as the glowy eyed killing machine of Resistance 2? Well because the new protagonist of Resistance 3, Joseph Capelli, capped Nathan Hale at the end of Resistance 2. It’s not that Joseph is a bad guy; in fact, he and Nathan had mutually agreed that Nathan’s life needed to end. It was the only course of action once the Chimeran infection had finally won control over Nathan and so Joseph chooses to honourably discharge Nathan via a bullet to the head. However, and owing to his initial genetic resistance to the Chimeran virus, Nathan’s blood becomes the foundation for a vaccine and so (as the former protagonist of Resistance) he is declared a hero. Unfortunately Joseph, the man thought to have killed Nathan in cold blood, was dishonourably discharged and so booted out of the army. With nothing much left except his family, Joseph, his wife and son seek shelter with a community of survivors. It’s actually a refreshing take on the series and the execution of sequels as a whole. Resistance 3 makes great use of a new protagonist, his son’s potentially fatal illness and family’s almost inevitable mortality; providing a new twist on the story. It gives Resistance 3’s final stand narrative a character that suits it and the story has become far more motivating than the previous 2 games. As is the way of things however, and on a routine extermination patrol, the Chimera discover the particular survivors Joseph and his family are sheltering with. Events unfold, one thing leads to another, and Joseph is forced to leave his fleeing family and friends as he makes way for New York; central for all things nefarious and Chimeran.
While Joseph, as well as many of the main characters for that matter, are mostly one dimensional and not really deep enough on their own. They each seem to represent specific characteristics that when unified, resemble a more complete resistance. The narrative is actually quite motivating and each character adds up to give a greater than the sum of the parts feel. This is especially the case when in latter areas of the game; the theme and narrative becomes more intensely gripping and an overall darker theme that the protagonist must overcome. It can actually get quite unsettling at times when you have to creep through dark with Chimeran eggs lying all around you. It’s a very serious plot. Yet it never feels so overly grim that it drains the experience of taking down every Chimera you can lay your bullets on. In continuing with the trend of Resistance, there are documents and voice logs sprinkled throughout the levels. While not necessary to find, they add a lot of detail to the world and of what I found thoroughly enjoyable. What I especially enjoyed was the radio show that would play on the radios spread throughout the game. Resistance 3’s world is believable and the continued emphasis of community among the survivors really sells that.
All in all, the story, while not perfect by any means, is more than enough to motivate you to continue and discover the true beauty within Resistance 3; its polish. The first thing you’ll notice is, and especially after playing Deus Ex, relatively short loading times. The second thing you’ll notice is an amazing attention to detail. I love the fact that Resistance 3 didn’t sacrifice its core mechanics to appeal to a popular trend. Insomniac Games has taken everything that worked for the previous games and kept it. They have managed to produce a balanced, challenging and excellent FPS experience without requiring you to cower behind cover. I love Gears of War but its cover system has reduced all modern shooters to encouraging you to cower in fear. It seems that if you aren’t in cover it’s because you’re moving to cover. Well either that or you’re dead for not being in cover. Resistance encourages you to take advantage of the passages and areas around you.
By far the best thing about the gameplay is the weapons. Insomniac Games are not afraid to experiment with unique and increasingly fun weapons. Too many modern FPS games get caught up in realism and forget that what’s realistic isn’t necessarily fun. Resistance 3 knows this and caters to your need for wanton destruction. Using the Marksman rifle and Dead Eye Sniper Rifle to pilfer the enemy Chimeran’s heads from their bodies is extremely satisfying. Or tagging your enemy with the Bullseye as they run and squeal in vain; trying to escape the veritable homing death you’ve served up for them. I love the smell of excessive fire power in the morning and with the Cryogun and ever gratuitous Atomizer (literally what it does to Chimeran scum); I get quite a pungent smell. Moreover, Chimeran weapons no longer look and feel like they shoot light bulbs and glowing pixies; you know those glowing orbs that were supposed to be energy projectiles in Resistance 1. Now though, they have that needed clunky and heavier feel, like they pack a more impactful punch.
The enemy Ai is especially appealing. Whereas in most FPS games, and even Resistance 1 and 2 are guilty of this, the enemy AI tries to either wear you down in mass waves or by overwhelming you as you try remove them from cover. In Resistance 3 the enemies actually act unpredictably at times. I’m not calling them an army of rocket scientists by any means but they act the way you think each particular variant of Chimera will act. The Brawler is a massive brute who will do all he can to close in on you. While Long Legs (or Jumpers) will keep moving until they find an opening and the Hybrids will not just mass charge or cover as they did before. Some will charge while others will take cover and as others lay down suppressing fire. It’s subtle at times, but playing the game really gives you a sense that Insomniac Games has worked hard on the holistic experience.
In a bid to move away from using the word graphically (to which I shall explain in a later column), I’m instead going to refer to the aesthetic of a game. That’s not to say that when I say graphically, I mean something other than the aesthetic style of the game. It’s just a preference of mine. Aesthetics are always important in a game. They bring the world together and provide an integral part of the experience. I often find that the dynamics of the FPS genre, where the player lives as an extension of the rendered arms and reticule, a strong aesthetic is important. On this ground, both Killzone and Halo do brilliantly, representing their worlds well. Killzone’s dark noire shading on top of rounded edges and an approaching-realism plays out to its futuristic plot. While Halo’s colour and vibrant light sources as well as very subtle shading gives a sense that you’re on an alien and yet nonetheless beautiful and exciting place. A place where you know Master Chief will come out on top. While in Halo Reach for example, it was darker and hinted at the end that we all knew was coming.
In that regard, Resistance 1 was limited by a finite grasp of the PS3’s hardware and so was bound to the limits of a new console. This meant that Resistance 1 struggled to portray its dystopian and calamitous events without making everything overly brown, gritty and at times bland and grey. The character models were great though and the glow of the Chimera technology seemed to emphasis their technological supremacy. Resistance 2 used Insomniac Game’s newer engine with more style and presence. It gave the game more vibrancy and emphasised the changes the world was undergoing; though it’s almost cell shaded tinge too heavily reminded me that this engine was used to make Ratchet and Clank. This is where the two steps forward, one step back philosophy is holding true once again. Resistance 3 has a much more cinematic and film grain look to it which helps to sell the time period and style of game. Colour and shading are also used brilliantly and attempt to emphasise the mood and setting of the narrative. There are also plenty of weather and particle effects that really tie the whole world together. I’m not sure what the obsession with comic centric cinematics is but they make the occasional experience in Resistance 3 as well as standard in game cinematics. They seem to document the past while more in engine cinematic tells the present. When working in collaboration with a great audio track; the overall experience is top class and I enjoyed every setting and new area; especially the water ways and dark woods.
After re-reading this review, I have to admit, it does seem like I’ve just spammed compliments rather than providing a detailed review or highlighting any real issues. I am trying to be as balanced and unbiased as I possibly can; really, I am. I guess if I had to nitpick I’d have to complain that at times the AI (despite being generally great) can get a bit predictable; but then what AI doesn’t? Also, there are very occasional clipping issues where I’ve found myself falling through a wall; but that’s probably just because I leant on it too hard. And I guess, while the co-op is almost certainly twice as fun the single player, the other multiplayer modes have been reduced from 60 people to 16.Mostly though, I have a lot of good to say. It may not be perfect but it sure is damn fun. So let’s summarise then. Resistance 3 sounds good, looks great and plays even better. Even fans of more serious FPS games like COD will appreciate Resistance’s arsenal of chocolate weaponry goodness. There really isn’t another FPS experience like it and it’s for that reason alone that you need to play it. If, like most, you would prefer to wait for a price drop before buying most console games. Go out and buy Resistance 1 and 2, they’re good fun themselves and by the time you’re finished; Resistance 3 will have had its price drop. If you don’t, you’re doing yourself a disservice.