The first-person shooter genre catches a lot of flack for being overused in today’s gaming society. It seems like there’s always a constant stream of new games in the genre, which are about to come out or on their way down the proverbial pipeline. To some, this is a detraction and a concern as they feel that creativity is being lost. However, I have to admit that it doesn’t bug me.
Since the day I played Doom for the first time, I’ve been a big fan of the genre. Whether it’s over-the-top arcade action of realistic war bullet combat, it interests me and I usually can’t get enough of it. This attributed to my interest in checking out Resistance 3, the popular series’ second proper sequel, from Insomniac Games and Sony Computer Entertainment.
If you haven’t played Resistance 2 before, then you may want to abstain from reading this plot synopsis as there will be spoilers. That’s because Resistance 3 picks up a little while after the events which occurred in its predecessor. Joseph Capelli assumes the role of the story’s hero, taking over from the deceased Nathan Hale. As you may know, it was Joseph Capelli’s gun-toting hand, which was forced to take Hale’s life after he had succumbed to the Chimeran virus and its monstrous effects. Struggling with post traumatic stress due to his life-ending action, Joseph is now the leader of a small band of human resistance, living in a cramped cave system with his wife, son and others.
After a reconnaissance mission goes awry, Capelli is forced into action while most of his asylum-seeking peers run for safety. It seems that the Chimeran forces are on the warpath, killing or turning every human being they come into contact with yet again. This terror track has led them to the dusty, farm town of Haven, Oklahoma. That is where our story picks up, with gunfights on small town main streets leading to a daring trip to New York City. As the one assuming the hero’s digital body, the player’s goal is to make it to America’s most prestigious city in one piece, in order to take down a Chimeran beacon which has turned the city into a freezing and desolate wasteland.
In true Resistance fashion, this outing is full of action, with stealth at a premium. Ask anyone who has played an Insomniac Games release before and they’ll know exactly what to expect: fast-paced and creative gameplay, using some of the more interesting weapons the genre has ever seen. Realistic elements are mixed in with gunplay which resembles something from Doom, more than it can be likened to anything from a game like Call of Duty. In many ways, it plays a lot like quite a few of the shooters I grew up with, employing some well-used retro mechanics.
The most obvious of these throwbacks is certainly the use of a health bar which does not regenerate, forcing players to pay close attention to the location of health-pack like serum jars. This mechanic brings with it added strategy, as enemies pack quite a punch no matter what difficulty level is chosen. In terms of overall difficulty, Resistance 3 would not be considered a brutally difficult game using its average settings, though it also certainly is not a walk in the park. Thus, the strategy. Make sure to take cover, move around and use intelligence in the way you fight back against the myriad of deformities taking their best shot at you. This bevy of attacking enemies is quite varied in its approach and designs, with one class sporting uniquely challenging movement capabilities due to advanced agility.
Motion controls are fully realized here, as the PlayStation Move and its Sharpshooter contraption combine in an attempt to create an added sense of realism and immersion. Though this control option works well and doesn’t have any major issues, my personal preference still lies with the trusty old DualShock 3. I find that two joysticks give me more accurate aiming mechanics than any type of motion controls. Some may feel differently, opting to try to physically shoot their way through Joseph Capelli’s daring adventure, which is great. To each, their own, as that popular saying goes. Whichever control scheme is chosen will not detract from the experience, which is what every gamer wants to hear.
Playable by your lonesome or with a friend (through local split-screen or friends-list invite co-op), Resistance 3‘s good but brief campaign is not without standout features. Its great amount of varied weapons tops my list, allowing players to shoot rockets, attach a target beam to their foes, shoot through inanimate objects and unleash electrical vengeance. All of its badass gun-like contraptions feature helpful secondary fire options and are fully upgradeable, with an individual metre filling up for each as the player puts them to good use. Out of this great list, my favourite is certainly the electrical current weapon, which brings electrocutions to a new level. Its secondary fire ability drops a static current, which attaches itself to any enemy in close proximity, drawing them in close. The result is exploding cadavers left, right and centre.
I also quite liked the different environments in which the action took place. It’s not often that we as gamers get to experience shootouts in dusty cornfields in the middle of nowhere, while floating over a swamped football field on the Mississippi River or in a frozen over interpretation of New York City. Those three stages really stood out to me, adding surreal atmosphere to the whole experience. Though many of the other locations used are certainly not new to gaming by any means, their presentation and usage tends to be a bit different within. The American landscape has been taken over by the yellowish Chimera virus, which is easy to notice in the explosive boils covering walls and stairwells. It’s also nice that this version of an under siege United States focuses on some lesser-used areas, like Oklahoma and St. Louis.
The writing is also quite impressive, used to create an interesting storyline with characters who you actually feel for. Joseph Capelli’s fight to save his country is a compelling one, as the script allows players to be drawn into his sorrow at the thought of possibly never returning to his family. Though his wife and ill son are on the run for a new hiding spot, another type of fear is always in the back of our conflicted hero’s mind as he tries to fight back worry about their safety and well-known morality. This heart-tugging premise makes you want to blow the Chimeran monstrosities away even more, to try to help reunite a scared family.
Although I enjoyed the several hours I spent playing through Resistance 3, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of repetitive deja-vu. Despite being a fun, action-packed and challenging romp using mechanics overlooked by today’s shooter, its campaign felt like yet another draw from the series’ well. There are some nice set pieces and cool action points, but nothing that screams of unique innovation.
The entire experience felt a bit dated in its approach, but not always in the aforementioned positive way, becoming somewhat repetitive as it huddled inside of a comfort zone filled with its predecessors’ ventures. That’s not to say it’s bad by any means. It’s just not revolutionary, amazing or something which will blow veteran shooter fans away. Sometimes that’s okay though. There are a ton of ferocious and explosive firefights to contend with, which should keep most gamers invested.
Competitive multiplayer makes its return, though it’s not as triumphant as I’d hoped it would be. Its deathmatches and few objective-based modes are unfortunately mediocre at best. Some fun can be found in its retro shooter mechanics, though the overall presentation and quality level both leave a lot to be desired.
Gameplay glitches, lag, animation issues and basic looking creations all combine to create something which doesn’t stand up with many of its popular competitors. The maps themselves are pretty good and there are some innovative levelling systems which allow for more in-depth player choice than usual when it comes to upgrades. However, the rest of the experience isn’t polished enough to keep fans coming back. I went in expecting a solid and fun experience, but ended up discovering a mode in need of some fixing and polish.
Jumping back into the campaign side of things, it’s important that we discuss presentation. This is a mostly-positive area where the game tends to occasionally excel despite having some department drawbacks. Its audio is loud, boisterous and full of high quality sound effects, plus some compelling voice acting. Though, the latter commendation comes with an asterisk. The main characters themselves sound great, though some of the supporting cast and encountered quest-based acquaintances sound quite cheesy, with lacking performances. The odd one sounds alright, but some of the other performances can hamper the campaign’s immersion factor a bit.
At many points, Resistance 3 delivers visuals which warrant a detailed look. Its use of a unique colour palette, creative yet detailed location designs and a few stylized motion animatics is quite commendable. I was very impressed with those features as well as the detail shown in the main character models during computer generated cinematic scenes.
However, there’s an asterisk here once again. A lot of the time, I found the game’s world to look too dark, bringing with it a bit of muddy texture work. This mars the great work which is showcased during other, lighter and more colourful portions of its campaign. Some supporting character models for both enemies and met acquaintances, also looked a bit dated, with lacking facial movement during conversations.
The entire campaign is playable in 3D, though cinematics occur in standard dimensions. This added dimension works very well in Resistance 3‘s favour, helping create a more depth-filled and realized world. Putting on the stylish glasses transports you into the game world a bit more than playing without. Though this extra effect is certainly appreciated and cool, it doesn’t change the game up very much, meaning it’s just as playable on other television sets. I wouldn’t recommend buying a three thousand dollar TV just for it’s 3D effects, but those who own one will be quite impressed.
In conclusion, Resistance 3 is a brief but good game, which could have been better. My high hopes going in were not met, though I had fun shooting my way through ugly alien deformities. There’s a lot to like here, but those features are blemished by some recycled elements and a lack of overall creativity.
Fans of the series should certainly enjoy its campaign, though they might not stick around for much in the way of competitive multiplayer, due to noticeable issues and a lack of polish. Insomniac Games has released another above-average digital outing in first-person shooter land. However, this is not their best release to date. Regardless, it’s a pretty fun shoot ’em up with some standout presentation elements and action-packed gameplay.
This review is based on a copy of the game which we received for review purposes.
Resistance 3 offers a pretty fun and challenging campaign, with some over-the-top action and visceral set pieces. It's not perfect, but there's enough enjoyable material here to make it worth a purchase.