Resistance 2 offers gamers a suite of experiences, a collection of modes that alone feel almost like stand-alone titles, but together compliment each other in a way that gives the shooter some major staying power.
Yesterday Insomniac president Ted Price told a gathering of game writers that their upcoming shooter will be the studio's "biggest and best game we've ever made."
And it's not just because the developer feels they hit it out of the ballpark with the game's single-player experience, or that they think their game offers the deepest multiplayer competitive mode around. It's also because the game's cooperative mode, which seems to tap into the dungeon-crawling, monster-bashing roots of massively multiplayer online games.
Topping all of that off, Price said, is an upcoming community portal which will include live game stats and some things other game portal sites haven't done before.
On offering last night was a chance to check out the recently tweaked multiplayer competitive mode, the first two levels of the game's campaign and the monster-spawning 8-person cooperative mode.
I sat down with seven other gamers to play through an entire scenario. In it we were given a rolling set of objectives which had us battling an increasingly overwhelming number of bad guys.
Unlike in the other modes, players start the game by choosing one of three archetypes: medic, special ops or soldier. The soldier is your basic tank with the ability to throw up a shield and chew through enemies with a heavy chaingun. Medics have the ability to shoot a Ghostbusters-esque stream of light that either sucks life away from a bad guy or heals a good one. Special ops come armed with a long-distance weapon and instead of throwing grenades they lob ammo packs.
On first blush the mode looks an awful lot like a World of Warcraft instance, but without the loot. A group of eight huddle around one another, healing, reloading and shooting as they work as a team toward a single objective.
Instead of drawing from the single player campaign, the mode will use a series of separate stories that play out over the course of the map, allowing gamers to go through them in any order without confusing what's happening.
As you play through a map your character can level up, automatically upgrading their armour and weapons up to four times for the map. Price said that as with the single player campaign and competitive mode, any experience you game while playing coop goes to your character's permanent overall Resistance 2 rank.
Coop can support upwards of 100 enemies in a single frame, so the name of the game is sticking close together and supporting one another.
In my play through of a map we criss-crossed a sizable map, stumbling upon packs of enemies. Some stood near respawn areas, others seemed to be laying in wait. The map's many objectives had us going in and out of buildings as well.
In general, we stuck closely together with the soldiers up front acting as shield-packing tanks while the medics and special ops folks hovered around behind us making sure we were ammoed up and well healed.
While the match I played seemed to rely more on brute force than strategy to succeed, that didn't make beating the lengthy map any less exhilarating. I can't imagine I would find this mode satisfying enough to support the weight of a triple-A title, but as another option, a different way to play, I quite enjoyed it.
Of course this means you can't play through the entire game in cooperative mode, but I'm not sure if that's a bad thing. First it allows the developers to preserve the story and single-player experience, but it also doesn't feel like a cheap add-on of a mode.