Platform | Release Date
PS3 | September 6, 2011
Developed by Insomniac Games
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment
It’s August 1957, four years after the conclusion of Resistance 2 that left Lieutenant Nathan Hale dead on the battlefield against the invading Chimeran race. Joseph Capelli has been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army for killing Hale. With the Chimera completely occupying the planet, Capelli has given up on the seemingly hopeless fight and has retreated into hiding underground with his wife and young son in Haven, Oklahoma. But as the climate of the planet continues to collapse, scientist Dr. Fyodor Malikov finds Capelli with a plan to deliver a devastating blow against the occupying Chimeran force. In order to protect his family, Capelli must leave them behind and embark on a harrowing mission across the country to New York City. Along the way, he and Malikov will encounter the survivors and remnants left in the aftermath of the brutal Chimeran invasion.
I have had mixed experiences with the Resistance series. Like a lot of people in the UK, I picked up the first entry as part of a bundle designed to push the PlayStation 3 while it struggled to gain traction. I had a lot of fun with the game; it was a decent first person shooter with a reasonable hook. Unfortunately, the second game was an infuriating trial, one that seemed to lean far too heavily on the Ratchet & Clank series’ gameplay design without any of the fun. With that experience under my belt, I entered into Resistance 3 hesitantly.
Initially, a lot seemed to have changed. No longer was I in control of Nathan Hale, the half-Chimera super-soldier, but instead Capelli, one of a group of survivors. Stuck in Haven, a human sanctuary, with his plucky band of resistance fighters, Capelli helps fend off the Chimeran threat until one day a massive assault forces them to flee. Capelli then finds himself on the trail across America, trying to bring down a massive multidimensional nightmare tower in New York. All the while yearning to return to his wife and young, bed-ridden son.
The plot makes Resistance 3 less of a direct competitor with the Halo franchise, indulging in careful moments of emotion between characters, and developing believable people as opposed to an army of uniformly daring soldiers. Throughout the game, as Capelli goes from one coast to the other encountering a wide array of NPCs, I began to think that this is a game which Valve might have been happy to get involved in.
This holds true even with the structure of the plot, with each stop at a location being a rush to find another vehicle to move on. While your fighting against the hordes of enemies, waiting for the next plane or train to take you away, the influence of Left 4 Dead starts to become clear. This compartmentalisation of the plot does grate though, particularly towards the end, with the final run to New York feeling particularly forced. When you experience Left 4 Dead’s individual episodes it’s easy to forgive the deus ex machina, but in a single linear experience, it feels odd.
Valve probably wouldn’t be too pleased with the inconsistent quality of the gameplay either. Resistance 3 brings back some fan-favourite weapons from the previous two games, while introducing new novelty armaments. It’s what Insomniac does best, however they seem to struggle with deciding what sort of game they want to make. While you are in well designed, interesting levels like the prison sequence, or even the compelling train section, Resistance 3 is the best game in the franchise. However, when the developers return to the wide open, enemy soaked arenas of Resistance 2, or what I call, “when it goes all fucking Serious Sam”, it is both frustrating and not fun, in the slightest.
Resistance 3 is a game of peaks and troughs. You’ll be enjoying the story, the clever sequences involving interesting characters, and then sigh deeply when Insomniac piss is all up the wall with another giant, stomping robots section, or a bizarre semi-tower defence failure. Providing you end your play sessions at the right time, when the game is at its best, you’ll feel compelled to return. Failure to adhere to this playing pattern means you’ll likely struggle to find the motivation to come back to yet another kill ‘em all clusterfuck.
However, while the gameplay might be inconsistent, the visual presentation is outstanding. This series has never been known for being best in class when it comes to graphics, but here comparisons to the Killzone games are warranted. It isn’t quite as mind-blowing, but there’s a lot of detail in the levels, enemies and weapons. Visiting more diverse locations rather than just the big-name cities the series has previously haunted has given the artists more room to flex their creative muscles. You have to suspend your belief that a 1950s America would actually look like 1950s America following a massive alien invasion in the 1940s, but otherwise this is the best the Resistance series has ever looked.
Co-operative play adds to the value of the package, and includes split-screen couch play, a diminishing feature that I long to see return to games as a standard option. Unfortunately for me, if you have particular internet providers, some in the UK, all of those in Saudi Arabia and potentially other countries, you simply won’t be able to join the online multiplayer, Network Pass or not. That’s a serious bug, and as I understand it is dictated by a fairly simple piece of network code. It doesn’t affect how much fun I had with Resistance 3, as I can’t not have fun with something I haven’t played, but it certainly stopped me from turning a rental into a full purchase.
I was surprised about how much I enjoyed Resistance 3 as a whole. It has very definite failings, and its quality is anything but consistent, but when the game is good it feels like a true step forward for the franchise and Insomniac themselves. When they retreat to the familiar, and phone it in, you might as well assign the game to the b-list; it doesn’t stand up to the competition. Renting like I did isn’t a bad decision, but unless the developers can learn to trust their better design instincts, they might still struggle to get me to spend even those few bucks on another sequel.