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Resistance 3 Review

9 September 2011

If anyone knows how to create a weapon set to inspire and excite gamers, it’s Insomniac Games. With the brilliant Ratchet & Clank series and two Resistance games already behind it, the California-based developer has had plenty of practice at getting it right, and has proven that it has the creativity to think outside of convention to create some unique weapons. As a PlayStation 3 exclusive, Resistance 3 harnesses the power of Sony’s console to deliver a movie-quality production, but once again it’s the vast array of powerful weapons and upgrades that turn out to be the main stars of the show. What's just as impressive, however, is that the series has improved in a multitude of ways, and in this third iteration Insomniac has finally delivered a first-person shooter that consistently delivers in every area throughout its gripping campaign.

With series’ protagonist Nathan Hale out of the equation, Resistance 3 feels totally revitalized. After killing Hale at the end of Resistance 2, scar-faced Joseph Capelli steps forward as the lead character and initially he seems like an unlikely hero. Having been dishonorably discharged from the army, the story begins by showing Capelli’s tender side. With only 10 percent of the population still alive on Earth since the devastating Chimera invasion, he’s now settled down with his wife and child, and has at least tried to build a normal family life around an abnormal situation. It’s a clever move by Insomniac to portray Capelli as a family man and use his wife and child to tug at your heart strings throughout the campaign, which provides a stark contrast to the courageous, fearless man he portrays while engaged in combat.

In the first instance, you feel that reluctance from Capelli to take on the Chimeran forces once more, but knowing that his primary reason is to save his family, you immediately feel a connection with him – something that we never felt with Nathan Hale in Resistance 2. Indeed, the storyline in Resistance 3 is well paced, easy to follow and hooks you right from the out-set and throughout the 20 chapter single-player campaign; a far cry from the convoluted story of Resistance 2. The narrative is played out via some polished cut-scenes, although journals that you find hidden away in your trek across 1950’s America also help to build on what is ultimately the best story in the series by a long shot. Great script writing and a likeable main character keeps you eager to find out more, and a twist about three-quarters of the way through the game will have you reeling.

Ultimately, Capelli is a likeable character that you care about, and as you get closer and closer to the end of the game there’s a real feeling of anticipation and excitement as you near the final epic battle. Throughout the campaign, there’s always that feeling of impending doom , yet the spirit of the human race to survive against overwhelming odds—reflected through character building and other NPCs you meet—immerses you in the battle and spurs you on to try everything in your power to help you, your family and the remaining survivors come out on top. As the campaign intensifies, it’s hard not to get totally absorbed with Resistance 3’s storyline and the way the gameplay fluctuates in pace, as it switches from wild and explosive shoot-outs with dozens of enemies on screen to an eerie boat ride down the Mississippi.

Indeed, Insomniac has created some incredible environments in Resistance 3 that show the scale of the Chimeran invasion and the devastation the alien race has caused on Earth. The turbulent skies rage above you and the mood of humanity is reflected through the bleak weather as rain buckets down on the roofs of the abandoned wooden buildings of Mt. Pleasant, or a dense fog floats across the surface of a murky river. Dilapidated towns with towering buildings blown to smithereens provide multi-tiered levels that give the illusion of open-spaces. Resistance 3 does have a linear design, but you never feel restricted due to the constant switching of locations and levels that always give you the opportunity to be tactical and creative.

Locations in Resistance 3 have an apocalyptic feel, with stark visuals and areas littered with abandoned buildings, dingy interiors and spectacular landscapes that hint at the plans of the Chimera. Audio plays a significant part too, with rousing orchestral crescendos during intense battles giving way to slower, more subdued music that reflects the bleak surroundings and constant struggle against a race that ultimately outnumbers you significantly. The fact that you always feel like you’re fighting against the odds in Resistance 3 heightens your passion to succeed against the Chimeran, something that Insomniac has achieved through this clever blend of story-telling, high-quality production values and intense gameplay.

Gameplay doesn't differ massively from previous Resistance games and features a range of generic first-person shooter objectives, where you might be defending an area from attack as waves of enemies descend on your position, or escorting someone safely from ‘A’ to ‘B’ while seeing off flying shield drones and Chimean armed to the hilt. However, Insomniac does enough to ensure there’s plenty of variety, switching from the likes of forest locations to underground mine-shafts, while throwing different enemy types your way. And, despite the familiar first-person shooter blueprint, Resistance 3 does well to stand out in this crowded genre, by furnishing you with some great weapons.

During the campaign, you never have to wait long before you’re given a new weapon to test out—and as you progress they just get better and better. One of the great things about the combat here is that (unlike a lot of shooters) you won’t get away with just using your favorite weapon throughout. Instead, you’ll have to switch between them all to make the most of their various strengths and think quickly to exploit enemy weaknesses. The result of having such a balanced weapon-set that causes such devastation makes for an intense tactical challenge that helps you feel like you’re a one-man army that can overcome the odds. The ferocity of the enemy, the sheer amount of numbers that are thrown at you, and the way in which Chimera vary in tactics and have different strengths, really encourages you to pull out all the stops, and all the weapons, to break them down.

Old weapon favorites, such as the Bullseye, Magnum, and the Auger bring with them some familiar and entertaining ways to dispatch enemies, while the likes of the Cryogun and Mutator add even further tactical variety to a game that consistently entertains. Upgrades enhance weapons further, and by the time you reach the final couple of chapters you'll be freezing enemies into blocks of ice, electrocuting them, shooting them through walls and mutating them into combustible land-mines.

The fact that level design changes so frequently and enemy's remain unpredictable, means that you'll find yourself utilizing the whole range of weapons—swapping from the Bullseye sniper for long-range shots to the shotgun to blast mutants clean off their feet. Weapons, including a nice range of grenades, pack a real punch and are wildly entertaining to use. Visually, Resistance 3 rarely falters and the impact of these weapons on the environment and enemies alike is great fun to watch.

The return of the weapon wheel makes switching between weapons a breeze. Though you can only quick swap between two weapons, a press of the triangle button brings up the wheel, and providing you have the ammo, you can switch between any of the weapons that you've collected so far. Though you could argue that the wheel is intrusive—stopping the action for a brief moment while you decide which weapon to arm—it means you're totally unrestricted in choice; and you'll most definitely need these short breaks in the action to compose yourself. That's largely because Resistance 3 really does come at you full pelt during certain sections, requiring you to switch weapons, flank opponents and exploit weaknesses. If you're after a challenge, then look no further.

Resistance 3 always gives you a chance though by slowly increasing the level of intensity. Indeed, the game’s pacing is spot-on. As you get access to more weapons the challenge increases, but you're equipped to face it. Gameplay shifts in tempo, one moment throwing an insane amount of enemies at you in a fairly enclosed space, then placing you in a wide-open area where you have time to assess the situation before plotting your attack. A frantic boss battle against a huge hulk of a beast gives way to an atmospheric ride across the Mississippi where you need to shoot at icicles to ensure the boat can keep moving forward as you pass the carcass of a dead Kraken. Furthermore, Insomniac throws in some heart-pounding set-pieces too, including a frantic run from a snapping beast that dwells in the caves beneath the dying Earth.

Co-op play gives the 8-10 hour single player campaign some extra legs, and though it’s a little disappointing that you can’t hop in and out of co-op with anyone online (instead you need to invite someone from your friend’s list, or play split-screen,) it’s a lot of fun with two players as you combine tactics and work together to see off the Chimera threat. That fun-factor is increased 100-fold as soon as you test out the new, streamlined multiplayer component. Wisely, Insomniac has ditched the 60 player skirmishes from Resistance 3 and has opted for a tighter, more team-orientated and intense multiplayer experience. Servers now host 16 player matches and offer five game modes: Team Deathmatch, Chain Reaction, Deathmatch, Breach, and Capture the Flag. Though it’s a mode-set that isn’t as flamboyant as some shooters, there’s more than enough variety in the actual gameplay.

A customizable progression system awards you for kills and assists, unlocking new load-outs and gracing you with new tactics that you can use against opponents, or for the good of the team– from lightning shields that stun attackers to cloaking devices that allow you to sneak up on opponents. Unlocking upgrades is addictive and the online skirmishes are intense due to the fairly small maps, which range from the seaside of Glamorgan to the mining town of Mt. Pleasant. Servers are well populated and getting into a game has so far been super quick and smooth. We’ve also seen no sign of the lag and frame-rate issues that plagued some of our multiplayer beta sessions. It may have taken three goes to get it right, but finally Insomniac Games has a single player and a multiplayer game to be completely proud of.

Overall, the magic of Resistance 3 lies in the fact that it makes you feel like you’re in the heart of a real battle for humanity. Insomniac does this through quality production values, solid level design and effects, and a heart-felt story and personable lead character. Weapon variety is fantastic and pacing is slick, while the soundtrack and audio wraps things up nicely, adding real tension and atmosphere to some of the game’s most poignant moments. And that’s just the single player campaign. Step online and a whole community of gamers, still pumped by the immersive single player campaign, are fighting for their lives. Resistance 3 is without question the best game in the series so far, and a real showcase of what we all knew Insomniac could achieve.

-The Final Word-

Third time is a charm as Insomniac unleashes a powerful and exciting campaign and then tops it off very nicely with a competitive and rewarding multiplayer component.
  • Gripping narrative and likeable lead character
  • A varied weapon set that puts most shooters to shame
  • Streamlined multiplayer with rewarding progression system
  • Co-op limited to friend's list and split-screen
9.0
Platforms reviewed : PlayStation 3
See PSU's reviews scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings

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