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Resistance 2 Hands-on

23 September 2008

What's stirring and coming to life at Insomniac Studios should have every single PlayStation 3 gamer excited. After a whole night with a near-final build of Resistance 2, not only am I confident Insomniac has met all appropriate expectations for a Fall of Man sequel, but in many areas exceeded them beyond anyone's wildest dreams. The storyline? Better. The graphics? Way better. The multiplayer? Worse. Just kidding, it's incredible. Read on to find out why this game will rock your world.

The evening began with an introduction by Insomniac CEO Ted Price, stating that everyone would be getting a crack at not only two levels in the single-player campaign, but the eight-player co-op campaign and 60-player online as well. After his opening comments, Price jumped into a level known as Orick (the Redwoods renamed) to give us a demonstration of the game's single-player. Right away, you could see Resistance 2 is more colorful than its predecessor, and sports incredibly high resolution textures that put Fall of Man to shame. As Price made his way through the level, improvements like A.I. enhancements, better lighting and particle effects, and an intense gore system became apparent.

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To briefly talk about the gore, Insomniac seems to be leaning more towards a chunk system where specific limbs -- heads, arms, legs, and hands to name a few -- are detachable. When they're blown off, organs become visible. Also, if chucks or blood spew onto the sides of buildings or walls, they will stick and slug their way down. This one isn't for the kiddies.

On the graphics front, Resistance 2 is looking fantastic. According to Ted Price, every week the team is adding more polish and tweaking the visuals to improve the overall presentation of the game. One scene that specifically stood out during Price's demonstration was in Orick; the sun's rays pierced the branches and tops of the trees, leaving a glistening yellow tint on the lush forest floor.

After Price's demonstration, everyone moved to the open stations and jumped into either single-player or multiplayer games. Since I knew I'd be spending most of my time in multiplayer, I decided to take on the two available single-player levels first. The two scenarios were presented to press that night.

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First off was Iceland, where you're tasked with navigating a SRPA (Special Research Project Administration) station as it's being destroyed by a Chimera invasion. The level manages to both offer a solid tutorial for players and begin the game with a bang. From the start, Insomniac gives players an up and in your face look at the sheer scale of Resistance 2 as massive Goliaths and hundreds of Chimera soldiers lay siege to the SRPA base. As you make your way across the outdoor terrain, you will have a few shots at taking down one of the Goliaths by shooting rockets at motors on its back. This experience hearkens back to the beginning of God of War -- it's a great tutorial, an epic intro, and a boss battle all in one.

The second level featured was Orick, CA, where after damaging a Chimera mother ship in San Francisco, Hale and his team of Sentinels follow it to the Redwood forest. From what's been shown, this is by far one of the most vibrant levels in Resistance 2, showcasing abundant green foliage and giant sun-drenched trees. The beginning of the level starts with a cinematic where Hale and a convoy of soldiers are trucking their way through the Redwoods when they are ambushed by Chimera. Jumping right into the fight, you make your way up the road, often taking cover behind razed vehicles and within heavy fog and smoke. After disposing of Chimera in the street, you follow the lead of your sentinel foot soldiers and enter the forest.

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Once in the thick of the forest, you and your squad come upon a few hewn soldiers, or rather limbs and intestines scattered across the ground. One of your sentinels’ scouts then looks ahead for what may have caused this massacre, only to find out the hard way -- skewered and ripped apart by a cloaked Chameleon. This is where things get intense. Upon entering the forest, the shotgun is introduced, and it serves as your best defense against the Chameleons later on. Now, you dominate the Chameleons, then Hale and his team must take out some annoying flying drones. They swarm in droves throughout the level; they're easy to destroy, but irritating nonetheless. Later in Orick, the best part of my single-player hands-on experience came when I was being hunted down by multiple Chameleons. Never before has my adrenaline been so high while playing a game. These sneaky monsters come stampeding towards you, cloaked and intimidating with their loud stomping and ground-shaking steps.

Moving onto the eight-player co-op campaign, I was able to get a few moments in playing as the special ops and soldier classes. What many at the event said about co-op was true; it surprisingly feels a lot like an instance in World of Warcraft where you and your teammates go from arena to arena taking on increasingly harder enemies. As you injure and kill enemies, you rack up experience points, leveling up your character. The experience unlocks new equipment such as armor and weapons as well as badges that give your character class new abilities. The abilities -- ranging from enhanced shields to healing -- can be mixed matched between classes.

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According to Ted Price, there will be sections of the co-op campaign that pit players against over 100 enemies in a single frame simultaneously. Now I only experienced fighting about 40 or 50 at the same time, but that in and of itself was very intense. In a brief chat with Insomniac's multiplayer lead Mike Roloson, I was told that co-op will feature completely new boss battles outside of the single-player campaign, meaning that if you play both campaigns, you will be exposed to completely new enemies not available in the other modes. Also, players who put time and effort into all three modes -- single-player, co-op, and multiplayer -- rather than just sticking to one will level much more quickly. Plus, you'll unlock trophies, such as the all hailed Platinum trophy, which is earned by completing both campaigns, reaching max level, and unlocking all badges, armor, and weapons.

Finally, we come to competitive multiplayer. Looking for a lag free, 60-player online battle that supports badges, massive environments, soldier classes, and an insane amount of stats? If so, Resistance 2 is your game. Right from the start, players are immersed into a frantic mission based multiplayer that has squads playing tug-of-war over contrasting objectives. Those who don't stick to their squads and run amuck can get easily lost in the sheer size of the maps. There are four maps in total and they are sectioned off to smaller areas depending on the number of players and mode selected. One of the facets I found most amazing about the online was that despite 60-player play and the immense size of the maps, everything was still highly detailed and ran without hiccups.

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Probably the most enjoyable weapon I used in multiplayer had to be the newly introduced Splicer, which can be used as both a melee weapon and long range shredder. Basically, by holding down the alternate fire, the saw blade spins red hot and anything that you run your blade into is "spliced" into pieces. Then for regular fire, simply shoot and hit your targets with as many saw blades as possible, and eventually they either explode or die. Another nifty trick is to spin the blade red hot and then fire it into an enemy, watching it work its way into their bodies and deal damage over time.

Now in terms of Trophies, Home, and downloadable content, Roloson did confirm that all will be supported. He said that he hasn't really seen anything on Home as the Resistance Room is being developed by another group inside Insomniac, but everything should be ready for when Home launches later this year. As for Trophies, you can unlock them by simply killing enemies in particular ways -- reaching 100 headshots is one -- or completing sections of the game like taking down the Leviathan. One of the Trophies that sadly wasn’t approved for the final game had to do with killing a T-bagger. According to Roloson, if you spot someone in multiplayer kneeling on a dead body and you kill them, you'd have unlocked this trophy. Alas, it is not to be. Finally, for those asking about downloadable content, Insomniac is already hard at work on providing new stuff for post-launch.

All in all, everyone who owns a PS3 had better get their pre-orders in now, as Resistance 2 is a must own title. With hours upon hours of single-player and co-op play and an infinitely playable multiplayer, this will be a title that people will be playing until the PS4 launches. When Ted Price stated at the event that Resistance 2 "is the biggest and best game we've ever made," he was right.


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