Review: Resistance 3

Insomniac Games and Sony Computer Entertainment are back for a third outing in the Resistance series, with Resistance 3. However, it’s only my first time, so please be gentle with me.

It’s the 1950s, on an alternate timeline where the extra-terrestrial Chimera are slowly and brutally taking over the planet. Joseph Capelli, exhausted from blowing the brains out of Nathan Hale (the hero of the first two games, who finally succumbed to the mutating Chimera virus), has holed up underground in Oklahoma with his wife and sick child and a handful of survivors.

Do you know how often being holed up underground with a handful of survivors works out? ZERO TIMES. All hell breaks loose, the Chimera unleash a Terra Former which rips the ground apart from the inside out, and it’s time to haul ass.

But to where? To New York: the city so nice, they named it twice the Chimera built a giant tower which is slowly cooling down the planet and killing the few remaining human members of the world’s population. Time to go and save the world? Must be Tuesday.

Firing up this game with no knowledge of the previous titles, the first impression was good. It looked like it had borrowed elements from some great games. Of course, being that this is the third game in the series, I am not sure who borrowed from whom, but what I saw was the dystopian wasteland of Fallout 3, the isolation and woe of Bioshock and the shoot-anything-that-moves mindset of Halo. And I am happy with all these things.

The story assumes a lot of knowledge (there is a beautiful graphic-novelesque prologue that explains the events leading up to Resistance 3, but I still find myself a little head-scratchy when the game began). But once that first “training” mission is out of the way, it clips along at quite a pace. I’m not sure if it’s great storytelling, or if the game is just short, but I was surprised when I suddenly found myself at the final showdown.

Initially, I felt like the gameplay was very pretty, but lacking substance. Shoot the ugly things! Shoot them again! Shoot them some more! Shoot her! Shoooot huuurrr—sorry, Jurassic Park flashback. Anyway, I very quickly realized that there is a real strategy available if you want to play the game cleverly. Every weapon has a secondary fire, and every enemy has a different set of strengths and weaknesses. I mean, you could just plough through and blow the brains out of everything, but if you tag a Longlegs with the Bullseye, or shotgun a close-knit horde of Shock Drones, or use the Auger’s scope to locate a camouflaged sniper, the experience is more varied, more rewarding, and more likely to be a success. I’m not even a fan of having a giant arsenal of weapons, nor am I a fan of weapon upgrading. This game has both, and it’s done in a way that adds a lot of variety.

And it’s not all frenetic running and blasting, either: I enjoyed the odd moment of quiet dread—guarding a boat as it snakes quietly (and painfully slowly) down the river, or sneaking up a mountainside trying to spot the snipers before they spot you. The action doesn’t stop, but it does slow down long enough for you to get your breath back.

In order to provide a variety of scenarios, landscapes and gameplay mechanics, the plot drives most of the location changes via cut scenes. As a result, the game is extraordinarily linear. Through each level, the game barely bothers giving you a goal-marker, because there’s only one path to take; and while there is huge diversity in the locations, rhere’s no sense of accomplishment as you slowly make your way to New York. You go where you’re told, and a cut scene will show how you ended up at the next location. If you like your freedom in a game world, you might find this limiting.

I give no bonus points for the graphics—they are lush, but then they bloody should be, it’s 2011—but they aren’t perfect. Whenever you move from an outdoor to an indoor environment, the sudden switch in colour temperature is distracting. but I do give bonus points for the minimalistic HUD and easy-to-navigate menu screens. As TVs get bigger and definitions get higher, some games are developing some annoyingly cluttered HUDs. Resistance 3’s HUD shows the absolute bare facts, and only along the bottom of the screen, so you don’t feel like you’re looking at everything through Terminator eyes.

The game is a sumptuous mix of survival horror and science fiction, with a period setting that doesn’t overpower the rest of the game, but rather adds a tiny point of difference to the other alien/virus shooter games out there. The game isn’t revolutionary, it’s all stuff we’ve seen before, and you don’t get much control over where you go or what you do, but that’s okay because it looks good, it feels good, and you get to do some pretty cool sh*t.

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