Resistance 3 Review
Resistance: Fall of Man was by far the most impressive PlayStation 3 launch title in 2006 and two years later, the sequel impressed a great many critics, even if some fans of the original considered it a step backwards. Now, the third installment is here and the competition has never been stiffer. To be frank, I had my reservations. I really did. I wasn’t overly impressed by what I had seen prior to starting the campaign. But after more than a few hours of play, I knew we had another stellar effort, one that is wonderfully designed, well paced, and loaded with tremendous imagery. I love it.
The graphics are bound to generate plenty of argument and discussion. In some ways, the visual presentation truly excels: artistically speaking, this is a highly accomplished production with unbelievable environments, fantastic enemy creation and animation, and an effective atmosphere. In other ways, we don’t see the extreme level of refined detail we may find in the upcoming Battlefield 3, and Killzone 3 has it beat in a few areas, too. Overall, though, the background Insomniac paints is the primary focus throughout, and we’re always on the edge of our seats. The effects are great, too, so prepare for an engrossing adventure.
While the visuals may reside at the absolute top of the technical ladder, the sound definitely ranks among other elite titles. The soundtrack is excellent; it always fits each and every situation, and the music is often single-handedly responsible for generating a faster pulse and a greater sense of urgency. The voice acting is actually quite good as well, which was a bit of a surprise. I like some of the weapon effects more than others, but there’s no denying the crispness and distinctness of each firearm, and intense battlefields will mercilessly attack your speakers. That’s a good thing, by the way. And if you have a pair of awesome headphones…ooooh…
Yeah, Resistance 3 is a FPS. It’s a straightforward shooter; you don’t take cover, there’s no blend that includes RPG-like elements, and there isn’t anything you haven’t seen before. Now that we’ve got that out of the way: the game is awesome. It plays so well and it’s so nicely balanced throughout, that you just have to keep playing. The control is rock solid, the collision detection is some of the best I’ve ever seen, upgradeable weapons are huge bonuses, and multiple enemy types keeps you on your toes. Even the story is decent and the characters are definitely likeable.
Nathan Hale is gone but the hero from past Resistance adventures gave humanity one last gift: a cure for the Chimeran virus. His blood was very special and a talented doctor was able to create a vaccine, which meant humanity finally had a chance against the growing invasion. Unfortunately, several years later, almost 90% of the earth has succumbed and the bomb Hale set off at the end of R2…? It sent a massive energy surge through Chimeran channels and now, a wormhole is open. On top of which, the invaders are actually terraforming Earth. I won’t continue but let’s just say you need to get to New York ASAP.
Everything is so well presented. There are a few positive aspects that continue to make the experience invigorating and exciting: first, there’s the health. In most all shooters these days, you just get into cover to regain energy; there’s no real health bar and the idea of health items is “old-fashioned.” Because I’m so used to that style, I had to question Insomniac’s move but you know, it works. It works even better than the new and “better” system, in some ways. It requires you to be more cautious because ducking into cover won’t save you, and it also encourages exploration. Finding those little green health packs is kind of a thrill.
Second, the weapons. Hands-down, this is my favorite assortment of firearms I’ve seen in a shooter this generation. Every single one is useful, they all perform exactly as they should, and I continually switch between them all because it’s fun. The diverse situations and numerous enemy types also require that you experiment, which adds to the depth and strategy. In most shooters, I just settle on one or two weapons that seem to function best in most scenarios but here, I wanna keep switching because they all rock. Plus, the new upgrade system kicks ass; new secondary abilities come in very, very handy when facing down particularly tough foes.
Third, the atmosphere. You start in Haven, one of the last remaining human towns that continues to survive amidst constant threat. People live the best way they can, and you sense that it’s a gritty survival situation; it’s almost frightening because it’s so depressing. Unfortunately, this sensation gives way to more standard action-oriented backdrops, and I would’ve liked to have seen more of that heartrending devastation. Still, those action parts are also freaky, due to the amazing use of music, terrifying enemy design, and environmental effect.
I should also mention the AI, which is more than competent. Some Chimera are just stupid and will blindly rush you, but most will flank, find cover, and tend to avoid standing out in the open. Considering their mobility, you’re forced to remain vigilant and accurate, and that’s all the more entertaining due to the aforementioned reasons. Oh, and let’s not forget those massive bosses for which this franchise is known; they’re better than ever and because they’re so bad-ass, I refuse to give anything away. Just trust me…they’ll scare the sh** out of you, and you’ll adore every second of the encounter. It’s almost a guarantee.
As for the problems, they’re mostly minor and some are more subjective than others. For instance, it drives me a little crazy that moving the camera left-to-right is always faster than moving it up and down. I have no idea why I even noticed it (others probably won’t), but it just seemed to stand out. Also, I think each weapon levels up the same way; general use allows them to advance, thereby unlocking new and valuable upgrades. But the progression is just a little vague, because you basically just keep using a weapon until it levels up and there’s no real player customization.
I also need to mention a few small technical issues. The online isn’t operating at 100% just yet and I had the campaign freeze on me once, and almost froze on me a second time. I’m not used to seeing this in PS3 exclusives, so I was surprised. Again, it might just be me (I’m not implying that all your copies will freeze up at one point or another), but I can’t ignore such events. Lastly, getting back to the online play, I’m not sure it’ll be able to stand out. It’s refreshing because it doesn’t look or feel like the popular military shooters, and it may or may not have been a good idea to lower the max number of players from 60 to 16.
It’s a lot of fun but I’m not sure fans of the genre will flock to it; they may be more willing to jump online with one of the shooters that arrive this fall. But if you want to play with a friend, definitely try the co-op because that’s ridiculous fun. I went through R2 with a buddy and I still remember it; the R3 co-op is a huge plus and you just can’t pass up the opportunity. Above all else, you can tell that Insomniac went out of their way to create a game that puts the campaign center-stage. How much longer are we going to see that with shooters? Really? We should reward this plot-driven experience if we want more of them, shouldn’t we?
Resistance 3 does almost everything right. It hits you right between the eyes from the start and never lets up. The control is tight, the variety (fueled by different enemies, upgradeable weapons, and gigantic bosses) is absolutely essential, the atmosphere has a large impact, the story and characters are compelling, and the pacing and technical style is second-to-none. The online isn’t overly impressive in my eyes, I would’ve liked a bit more control in regards to weapon customization and progression, and I also wanted to see more of humanity's plight. But as I said at the start of this review: I love this game. It’s just oodles of fun.
The Good: Great artistic style and atmosphere. Excellent soundtrack. Smooth, reliable control. Awesome weapon assortment. Plenty of overall variety. Fantastic pacing. Solid AI. Memorable boss encounters.
The Bad: Graphics aren’t extremely sharp and refined. A few technical hangups. Lack of character customization.
The Ugly: “Okay, you gotta stop climbing ladders like that. It’s just plain weird.”
9/6/2011 Ben Dutka