Four years after the events of Resistance 2, discharged Sentinel Joseph Capelli (always ready with a friendly bullet to the brain pan) has given up fighting the Chimera, huddling with the remnants of humanity in North America, waiting for the sweet embrace of death. Fortunately for Capelli, that would make for an extremely boring big-budget first-person shooter, so developer Insomniac gives him a reason to go on.
But should Insomniac have gone on, or should they have capped the series at part two? The assembled video game critics overcome tremendous odds to answer that question.
Launching with the PlayStation 3 back in 2006, the original Resistance: Fall of Man signaled that Sony wanted a blockbuster FPS franchise to call its own. Insomniac’s alternate history shooter deviated from clichés set by both WWII and sci-fi games with a story about an alien invasion in the 1940s. Its sequel made some odd decisions, such as limiting the single-player loadout to two weapons instead of the well-liked weapon wheel from the first. After fans gave the sequel negative feedback, Insomniac made some significant changes heading into Resistance 3. Unfortunately, they’re not enough to keep the game from being a decidedly average shooter, and the most disappointing entry in the series.
Structurally, it’s like a post-apocalyptic road movie. This gives the game the freedom to introduce (and discard) new locations and new groups of characters as Joe makes his way towards the East Coast. Like the Littlest Hobo with firearms, he stumbles into various human enclaves, helps them with their problems and is pushed a few hundred miles closer to his goal by their gratitude. Even in levels filled with explosions and firefights, the melancholy mood remains. There’s a general sense of hopelessness to the story that sets it apart from the chest-beating that typifies a blockbuster shooter. Joe is a doubting, desperate man. The people he meets are clearly doomed, if not during his encounter, then surely some time after he leaves.
Resistance 3 has a well-paced campaign that lasts roughly eight hours, continually changing things up, whether through new weapons, enemies, or situations. In one area, you’ll creep through the woods searching for cloaked snipers, and soon after, you’ll be unloading shotgun rounds into a seemingly endless rush of grims. The changes flow naturally through the game’s broader context, and the regular introduction of new elements keeps it from ever growing stale.
Regardless of whether you’re defending a downed VTOL, or moving down a fog-lined Mississippi River in a steamboat, or picking off attacking jeeps from the carriage of a moving train, the game revels in throwing more foes at you than you’re comfortable with — but never more than you can handle. That’s because Resistance 3 possesses one of the most ingenious collections of weapons ever assembled in a video game; a veritable wheel of abject destruction which inspires a degree of familiarity which very nearly resembles parenthood. The name of the game is situational awareness — each weapon is suited for a particular kind of brawl. If you’re dealing with a few grunts, the revolver is ideal. For shielded enemies, the wall-piercing Augur rifle is your guy. If you’re overwhelmed by a bunch of melee-fighting goons, the chain-attacking Atomizer would be appropriate. The Bullseye, with its tracer darts and homing bullets, is best against flying foes — or for when you’re feeling a little too lazy to aim.
But the scaled-back online multiplayer doesn’t lose a step, despite supporting just 16 players (as opposed to 60 in Resistance 2). Thanks to the unique weapons of the Resistance universe and distinct human and Chimera abilities, the battles unfold in a thrilling manner, with the team-based modes giving you a chance to play both sides in each match. It’s not nearly as robust as something like Call of Duty: Black Ops, but the sci-fi spin adds a lot to the experience, and modes like Breach — where sides attempt to protect or destroy armoured stations — stand out despite standard genre origins.
Insomniac has used the extra year in the cooker to make Resistance 3 a game that has everything going for it. The multiplayer, while not the best on the market, is good enough to keep people interested for a long time. However, the single-player (and co-op) make for a game that can proudly stand next to Uncharted 2 as some of the best the PlayStation 3 has to offer. If only people turned off by the first two games give it the chance it deserves.
Looks like there’s something worth fighting for.