Resistance: Fall of Man User Review
First. Resistance: Fall of Man was one of very few Playstation 3 launch games, and was widely regarded as being the best of them. For me, it was the first new console game that I’d played in close to ten years; since the Sega Mega Drive in fact. As such, I’ve always looked back on it with reverence. It had become a symbol for me, of my future in gaming, and I held it in incredibly high regard, even though the memories of the game had begun to fade. It was curious then to begin playing and feel intimately acquainted with the controls, story and set pieces after such a long period of time. The question is whether or not it is as good as my memory set it forth to be. Let’s explore that.
For a game that is five years old, it still holds up remarkably well from a graphical standpoint. It is true that the in-game character models are rather unimpressive and that many of the minor environmental designs, such as rubble, vehicles and cover points, are used time and again but this doesn’t take too much away from the game. A little bit more diversity would have been very welcome but it does its job. Aiding to make the game look better is a startling amount of background variation. There are a large number of different zones to play through. Be this the war torn streets of York and Manchester, the wide open vista of Cheddar Gorge or the transformed London that takes centre stage at the climax of the game. The blend of real-world environments with the alien structures further aids in this. However, there is a lack of fine detail in the Chimeran architecture. It’s a problem often encountered in sci-fi based games, and Fall of Man is no exception.
There are a grand total of eight weapons in the game, and each of them looks much as you would expect them to, given their functionality. I did find an issue here in that they actually look rather uninspired, particularly given the alien influence of some of them. This lack of inspiration is no issue when it comes the enemy designs however, as the Chimera do look quite creepy, certain subspecies of which are more horrifying. Unfortunately each of the models is used ad nauseam leaving a distinct lack of flavour to the graphics. Perhaps the biggest point dragging the game down though is the pervading greyness. Even in places where there should be a great deal of colour, everything seems desaturated. It does aid in the development of atmosphere at some points, but most of the time it just leaves a bland impression. Adding to this is a certain barrenness. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly, but the environments feel empty and unlived in, if that makes sense. The technical presentation, on the other hand, is rock solid.
Voice acting isn’t a huge aspect of the game, being relegated almost exclusively to the narrator, Parker and one of the ancillary characters, Cartwright. The protagonist Nathan Hale is largely silent, though he does speak on several occasions, nothing is especially noteworthy. The narration is adequate, but never aspires to be too much more than that. The best thing about the dialogue certainly comes from some of the random statements from NPCs that you’ll encounter as you progress through the game, including comments about swimming to Australia and shooting anything that isn’t wearing shoes. They don’t come about very often, but always at a time that they’ll help most to alleviate the tension. The timing of such comments speaks volumes about the humour that the Insomniac team has managed to perfect over the years.
Featuring more strongly is a martial soundtrack that works well with the story, usually becoming most pronounced during the cutscenes, though also playing undercurrents to the action. On a level that is almost subliminal it spurs you onwards, making you feel a part of the action. This same level of sophistication is carried into the weapons, with each having the effects that one would associate with the firing mode of them. The background noise is quite good most of the time, be it the crossfire of other soldiers, the cries of Chimera or the explosive resonance of a battlefield. There are other times where it lapses however and you are left to hear only silence.
I’ve mentioned the weapons several times because they are, without a doubt, the standout of the game. Each of the eight weapons has the regular and alternate fire modes, which has allowed for the creativity of Insomniac to show. The advanced technology of the Chimera really does allow for concepts that are rarely used to be shown. This is backed up by the presence of a radial weapon menu, which means that you can use any weapon in your arsenal at any given time, provided you have the ammunition for it. It allows for great tactical diversity, which is assisted by the level design which does allow for several different play styles in many areas, especially as there are none of the annoying constant spawn points that plague other games. Curiously, it is possible to get shot while behind cover. It doesn’t happen very often, and usually only when it is most burdensome but it adds a tension to the game. Hit detection can be a bit off, which is disappointing and headshots make no difference to body shots, but these are the only real flaws to the gameplay.
Back onto the level design, it is fantastically varied, ranging from claustrophobic tunnels to downhill races through ruined cities and hubs. There is also a nice balance between waves of enemies and what almost amounts to boss battles. Breaking up the on-foot battles every now and again is the presence of vehicle segments, two concerning tanks and two with an armoured jeep. Understandably the two feel different and help each other to balance. The jeep segments are immense fun as they are completely unrealistic and it is possible to do some insane things in that vehicle.
However, the game harks back to an older design ethic than newer games thanks in part to the aforementioned weapon wheel, as well the absence of a sprint button and the presence of a semi-regenerative health model, which I don’t believe has been done often, if at all. This means that you can’t simply run in guns blazing all the time, slowing things down from many other games. The health bar is split into four segments, and only one of these will restore on its own. To top up your health completely you have to locate health packs, which are spread fairly liberally through the levels. There is an auto-aim, but it is so slight as to be negligible, and the analogue controls can be a tad loose, though it is considerably better than other games of the same period. Additionally, the control scheme is fully customisable for those that aren’t happy with the supplied set up.
Many of the scenes designed to progress the story are set to still frame images, as opposed to fully animated sequences. These are always sepia drenched images of characters or environments, but it works, as it is the tale of Nathan Hale as told by Rachel Parker, rather than being seen through his eyes. It allows for the silent protagonist. That being said, the story is surprisingly strong, not because of the characters, but because of the background.
The Chimeran invasion began in Russia under mysterious circumstances shortly after the Iron Curtain fell, splintering the country from the rest of the world. Reports and rumours still managed to filter out about townships and cities falling before a destructive adversary, but the curtain held until the early 1950s. It was at this point that the Chimera set their eyes on the world. Europe fell in weeks, and after a few months the British Isles were in danger. At the height of the invasion the Americans stepped in, sending soldiers and assistance, including the protagonist of Fall of Man, Nathan Hale.
He touched down in York and became the sole survivor of his squadron. As such, the story follows this lone soldier over the course of three days as he joins the forces of the British in trying to stem the inevitable, uncovering some shocking revelations in the process. It is indeed quite a gripping narrative for anyone that appreciates alternate history, or sci-fi, though is inexpertly told. It’s still a damn sight better than most stories in the same genre, and Hale is somehow a character that is easier to connect with than many.
Perhaps this is simply because it is easy to spend a considerable amount of time in his shoes, for a game of this genre. While many are criticised nowadays for failing to achieve a mark of even six hours on the Normal difficulty, it took me close to eleven for Resistance: Fall of Man. There are four difficulty settings in total, meaning that there is more to come back to, either to clean up objectives, or to enjoy the story again. Those extraneous objectives include Intel, which usually gives clues to the background of the story, or what sort of adversity you’ll be coming up against next, which makes them well worth hunting down. There are also a set of Skill Points, both general and chapter specific that will unlock extra on-disc content such as videos and concept art. Finally, there are additional weapons to be found in the second play through of the game, each with unique capabilities as extra incentive to play over it a second time.
It’s rare to find a shooter that takes pleasure in telling a story, and even rarer to find one that is quite as long, involved and balanced as Resistance: Fall of Man. Certainly, it’s an old game and some will discredit it because of that, but it still manages to match up to most of the offerings of more recent times in many ways, even managing to outdo some. Insomniac went above and beyond the call of duty (not sure if pun intended…) in creating this Playstation 3 launch title, creating a bankable franchise that was a wild departure from their previous offerings. It’s a wonderful title that is hard not to like, and I recommend it with the most earnest of intentions.
As always, thank you for reading. May you find Peace, Happiness and Contentedness going forward in your lives. Until next time, PSXE.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.