Resistance: Fall of Man holds a special place in most early PS3 adopter’s hearts because it was the game to play around the system’s launch. Feeling that ante had to be upped, Resistance 2 debuted in 2008 with high hopes and even higher promises but unfortunately, Insomniac bit off more than they could chew, leaving the game to feel like it was stretched a bit thin. Criticisms were taken to heart over at Insomniac which was probably the catalyst in giving Resistance 3 a whole extra year of development time. An extra year may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but it definitely shows in the final product. Resistance 3 is not only by far the best in the franchise, but it ought to be considered as a heavyweight in the first-person shooter genre as a whole.
After the events that went down in Resistance 2, humanity has been bending over and taking it from the Chimera for the past few years and things aren’t looking pretty. In this world, you’re either dead, a Chimera, or you’re hiding underground fearing for your life at every possible turn. Humanity is basically screwed from the outset which sets the tone for a bleak, semi-depressing story.
Nathan Hale is no longer able for duty after the ending of Resistance 2, so you take control over Joesph Capelli, one of the other soldiers from the last game. If you didn’t like him in the last game, fear not, he has been almost completely de-douched. He’s been humanized by the inclusion of his new family, losing some weight, and just not being such a vulgar asshole, which gives you a reason to root for him. Similar to Hale in the first game, he is mostly quiet and gets down to business fairly quickly. There’s no small talk or witty banter, it’s just the bare minimum to keep the plot moving. It actually works well and fits the overall mood of the world.
Joe’s mission is pretty simple: get to New York as soon as possible. The admittedly-hopeless goal is to try to sabotage the Chimera to help the humans out in this seemingly-over war. Grand and sometimes tragic events happen along the way to ratchet up the intensity and urgency and they all play into the story well. Being so minimalistic in nature, I was surprised that I cared so much about what was going on. I would have liked to see the mystery of the Chimera as a whole be uncovered a bit more, but what is here is great and leaves me wanting more for this universe. Given the ending (which is quite good), I have a feeling we’ll be seeing exactly that soon.
It’s just simple math: having twelve weapons is far superior to only having two weapons. I don’t know where he crams these armaments (nor do I really want to know), but the weapon wheel makes a triumphant return, housing all of your firearms on you at all times. This freedom is a blessing when it comes to combat because you aren’t limited by choice, you are liberated by it. Provided you have sufficient ammunition, handling a situation can be left up to any one of the weapons in your arsenal and it’s important to stress that this is the game’s greatest feat. This choice causes every weapon to have its time in the light to become useful. At the end of the game, I checked my stats and noticed that I had an eerily almost-equal number of kills for each weapon, meaning I didn’t use the usual strategy of other games where I lean on the assault rifle for most situations. Flipping from weapon to weapon and clearing out entire areas let me really experiment and feel like a one-man army during the entire length of the game. Few feelings are as satisfying that decimating a few squads of the alien scum.
Having twelve weapons on you at once didn’t mean Insomniac chose quantity over quality; they are all incredibly useful and inventive. Not only do the designs look neat, each gun has a strategic value and feels different from its brethren. Alternate fires come standard with every weapon in addition to standard fire, furthering their usefulness in a few key ways. Yes, a few classics return, but they are still different enough and feel like worthwhile additions to the armory. Even shooter standbys like the sniper rifle, shotgun, and rocket launcher look and feel completely new, but the more memorable takeaways are the more alien weapons. Discovering them is a big part of what makes them stand out, so I’ll keep them under wraps, but these weapons are not only creative, they are useful too.
Even though the first form of the guns can steal the show, after a few upgrades the badass scale only rises. Similar to Ratchet & Clank, simply using the weapons upgrades them and gives them more functions, a slightly new look, and better attributes. Do you like that shotgun? Use it enough and shoots fire. Use it even more and shoots freaking incendiary grenades. Not only does this approach give incentive to constantly switch it up, discovering the new functions adds a welcome sense of progression along with further expanding the possibilities in combat.
But it isn’t like the combat grows stale to need that sort of boost. Different sorts of Chimera and Chimeran robots are being introduced at a fast pace that changes up what you are doing in most situations. This is nice and all, but when they start mixing up the enemy types, your combat and weapon management skills start being tested. While the first half of the game is spent rolling out new enemy types (and believe me, there are a lot), the second half focuses on blending them together to always keep you on your toes. Facing snipers by themselves isn’t too much a challenge, but throwing in some Ravagers, shield bots, and a few Steelheads in the same room can create quite the challenge.
“Challenge” should be taken in the best possible context though. First-person shooters don’t usually handle difficulty very well, leaving frustration at every death, but Resistance 3 doesn’t follow that trend. I have a pretty short fuse, but every time I’d meet death, I’d just think of a different strategy, use one the weapons in a new way, or take a different path within the broad levels. Death always came as a learning experience, which is something that is extremely difficult to nail but the payoff is a grand and the game benefits because of it.
Part of this good challenge extends to health pack hunting inherent to the game’s design. Do you remember health packs? Yes, it seems archaic and it’s definitely been a while since I’ve used one, but it gives Resistance 3 a feel all its own. Rather than sucking your thumb and waiting for your bullet wounds to magically disappear, in dire situations, you have go into the danger and scout for the glowing green health jars. Being low on health gave a sense of urgency and made me feel like I couldn’t hold still and cower down to progress. Manning up and creating strategies to navigate to the nearest health pack was a unique experience found in the game’s firefights. The health items are generously spread out too, so it never becomes a chore to search for one.
Resistance games haven’t really been known to tap the PS3’s internal workings to become visually stunning games, but again this is where Resistance 3 wisely deviates from the series’ path. Environments and enemy character models are extremely detailed and vividly pop off the screen, letting nothing succumb to mediocrity. While those things look nice deserve props, the effects really take center stage. Fire, ice, pus-filled explosions, and the lighting are very impressive in their own right and left me in awe every time. In a system filled to the brim with beautiful games, Resistance 3 definitely can hold its own.
Although it is not red and dead, redemption has definitely been achieved through Resistance 3. Bucking nearly all of the trends that modern shooters (and some from its own series) consist of, Resistance 3 goes above and beyond to create such an interesting game from the get-go and becomes a landmark shooter because of it. If the series has turned you off in the past, this is definitely Insomniac’s “I’m sorry” note to you. It would be rude to ignore this note of this quality, wouldn’t it?
+Weapon wheel brings variety
+Weapons are devastatingly effective and cool
+Bleak, simple story stays interesting throughout
+Cinematic moments are surprising and tense
+Gorgeous game with spectacular lighting and effects
-Doesn’t really solve any mysteries of the Chimera (or series) as a whole
Final Score: 9.5/10