Review: Resistance is Futile!
Resistance: Fall of Man is first in four different categories. It's a first person shooter, obviously. It came out on the first day. It's a first party game since it's published by SCEA. Finally, it's the first game that everyone who owns a PlayStation 3 before the end of the year should buy immediately. Insomniac Games, of Ratchet & Clank fame, brings its creative weapons experience to a brand new system for stunning toys of destruction. The unique storyline, next-generation visuals and 40-player online multiplayer also make for a great introduction to the PS3. For some, it may not exhibit the full power promised by the launch hype or come close to warranting more than half a grand for the console alone. Nevertheless, Resistance is a fine FPS exclusive for fans of the genre and anyone that wants a solid first game within the launch window.
Resistance is set in an alternate reality in which Hitler never came to power, society never went through the Great Depression, Communism wasn't on the march and the Great War was indeed ?The War to End All Wars? between humans. However, the peace following WWI was shattered by a threat out of Russia more ominous than Communists. It was the rise of the Chimera, an unexplainable alien-like creature that infected the population of Asia over the course of a decade and broke out to spread across most of Europe within weeks. England was the last country to fall within the defenseless continent as the Chimera burrowed under the channel. In the summer of 1951, the U.S. and remaining British forces mounted their final assault on the horrid species with U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Nathan Hale a part of the company.
Players take on the role of the tough as nails Hale in the campaign's gripping story, which unfolds through beautiful high definition cut scenes and stylized grainy black and white stills. The story's resulting nature mixes this sci-fi shooter full of inhuman enemies with one that still contains a sense of the World War II era of fighting. It's a little bit sci-fi video gaming and a little bit WWII video gaming in the same way that Donnie and Marie Osmond are a little bit country and a little bit rock ?n roll? that is, if you buy Donnie Osmond being anything close to rock. Regardless, the combination in this case makes for an impressive blend. Hale's encounters with the Chimera are told by a British female officer whose voice and accent set the right tone, rounding out the game's near-perfect presentation.
The sci-fi aspect of Resistance allowed Insomniac Games to create sophisticated new guns for the classic 1950s soldier that haven't been invented in the 21st century. The most novel weapon in the game is the Bullseye, which fires typical pulses with the R1 button until you hit L1. This secondary fire button shoots a non-lethal tag, and if you happen to attach it to an enemy, then all of your firepower, no matter where you're aiming, hones in on that tag. So you could be firing while ducking behind a crate and watch your pulses curve to a nearby enemy because of this ingenious tag gun. The most imaginative grenade in the game is the Hedgehog, another example of a standard weapon that benefits from a Chimera technology upgrade. Thrown with the circle button, this grenade is covered in spikes so that when it explodes in the air, it has enough force to pin enemies to walls in all directions.
There are also a number of interesting combinations of existing weapons. The M5A2 Carbine combines a typical machine gun with a grenade launcher and the standard sniper rifle adds a fun, strategy-filled slow-down mechanic when holding down L1. In the case of the alien-developed Auger gun, the alternate fire button emits a square energy shield that can block the firepower of every other gun. It can't stop enemies that posses the Auger because this gun also has the ability to shoot through walls and any other normally impenetrable cover. So when you're facing Chimera equipped with the Auger, the routine duck-and-cover strategy suddenly becomes obsolete.
Once you try out the innovative weapons, the fun continues as you strategically work to use the best gun or grenade in each situation. Small rooms or tunnels are perfect environments for a Hedgehog Grenade. More open environments that contain just a little bit of cover call for the Bullseye or Auger in most cases. Enemies that haven't sensed your presence are best taken out with the sniper rifle and its awesome hang-time effect. Careful execution in this slowed-down mode allows multiple headshots of the Chimera before the bullets of their alerted buddies make it to your position.
In addition to the arsenal, health also involves a cool strategy element because it can regenerate up to a certain point. The meter is broken into four blocks containing the same number of tick marks. With a couple of seconds of safe cover, it's possible for the health to regenerate to the closest tick mark. By not regenerating all of the way, it strikes an appropriate balance between being too merciful and too unforgiving, and results in a novel cover-seeking tactic for players.
The controls receive the opposite treatment as the weapons and health by containing few surprises, which is good news in its case. The triangle button, which acts as a last ditch melee attack, is a powerful method of finishing off enemies while reloading if you're just short of making a kill. There's no real chance of completely running out of bullets here, however. All of the guns can be carried at once, unlike games in which you're forced to choose and limited to two guns at a time. A weapons select screen conveniently pauses the action when R2 is hit. The L2 button performs the essential crouch if tapped once or less-used sprint if tapped twice. A shallow, but still satisfying initial attempt at using the SixAxis comes into play when an enemy latches onto your body. Simply moving the controller back and forth shakes off the enemy. It's nowhere near as involved or as impressive as the WarHawk demo we played, but the groundbreaking starts here for motion sensing gaming on PlayStation 3.
Like the imaginative weapons, the creatures within Resistance stand as an artistic achievement. The ugly Chimera contains multiple eyes on their heads, scales on their skin and tubes running all over their bodies. They come in all shapes and sizes, too, and every one of them looks frightening in one way or another. The environments also contain an eerie feel, from the bombed-out London streets to the Chimeran-dug tunnels that snake between the surfaces. The variety of location types mix up the gameplay between wide-open levels and close-corner environments. The AI in each is smart enough to take cover from your bullets or rush to ambush your position if you're constantly ducking to do the same. If the Chimeran do ambush you, you can always seek revenge in the very above average vehicle missions strewn throughout the campaign as it's possible to run them over with a jeep, tank or mech-like stalker.
Smaller elements within levels show the amount of detail you can expect from this next-generation console. Window panes, for example, no longer shatter with a single bullet or break apart in awkward chunks. Glass is instead reduced to fine pieces of sharp, realistic-looking shards depending on the bullet location. Killing tube-filled Chimera exhibits another fine detail by not only displaying snapped tubes, but portraying leaked gas and a suitable sound effect to go along with that visual effect.
Now, pessimistic gamers are going to be a little disappointed it doesn't look better than what the Xbox 360 has to offer. These people buy into the myth that the PS3 is the superior machine and therefore games are going to immediately look better than those on Microsoft's second system. It's also nowhere near as destructive as the last generation game Black. But, Insomniac Games still put together an impressive next-generation package that makes PS3 look like a true graphics top contender right at launch, regardless of the complicated comparisons.
The campaign mode takes nearly a dozen hours to complete and has three modes of difficulty. Going back to try the hardest mode is appealing because five new guns are unlocked once the game is beaten the first time through. Also, there's a co-op mode in which it's possible to share the campaign experience with a friend. No online co-op mode to speak of. More hidden items would also have been appreciated, as it's always fun to discover them in crevices and long-off jumps that were missed the first time through. That doesn't mean that there isn't much too do after the campaign is beaten, however. The multiplayer mode can handle up to four players offline via split screen and a whopping forty players online via the new PlayStation Network.
Multiplayer modes include the usual deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag and breech joined by two unique modes. Meltdown has teams capturing coolant nodes in order to overheat their opponent's reactor. Conversion is a free-for-all mode in which dying respawns you Chimera hybrid until you're out of the game by dying a second time. Another game type that would've worked well is a hunter mode, which isn't too far off from what Conversion has to offer. One person randomly starts as a Chimera with the goal of converting everyone else into the creature. When it comes to the last human standing, tons of hybrids are chasing in close pursuit. It's a mode that worked well in Midtown Madness and might be a riot in an inevitable sequel.