Although a few quick rounds would drop this Chimera, a nice left hook will work just as well.
Resistance: Fall of Man gained a strong install base following the PS3's launch, but when Resistance 2 continued to build Insomniac's brand, fundamental tweaks to the health system and weapon wheel met fans with bitter impressions. The narrative felt particularly misconstrued as Nathan Hale's exploits proved ineffective in halting the Chimera's invasion of U.S. turf. In the end he succumbed to the Chimeran virus (and a bullet between the eyes), but Nathan's death was not in vain. With the aid of the former Sentinel's blood, Dr. Malikov was able to develop a cure for the virus. As Joseph Capelli says, “Hale was the hero, and I was the villain.”
Resistance 3 continues the story of Capelli four years after the events of Resistance 2. With tarnished hopes, humanity’s remnants fled into hiding to eke out an existence among derelict slums of once-proud cities. Capelli is living in the rundown town of Haven, Oklahoma with his wife and son when Dr. Malikov's arrival brings Chimera death squads to the emotionally dry reunion. However, the Earth is in danger and only Malikov knows the solution. A wormhole has opened in New York that is slowly freezing the planet, and the doctor requests Joe’s protection. The duo will travel by plane, train, and boat as they slaughter countless Chimera forces and even some bosses along the way. And a few well-orchestrated set pieces keep the action tense, whether you're evading a group of 200-foot Goliaths or running with a pack of Widowmakers.
Longlegs have a nasty habit of dropping in when least expected.
Resistance 3 tells a more personal, simpler story than its predecessors. Resistance: Fall of Man covered the invasion of Europe, and the sequel showcased the massive worldwide conflict, but now humanity has lost. The human race is on its last legs. Less than ten percent of the population remains, and each death brings humanity closer to extinction. A shocking twist two-thirds of the way through the single-player still resonates with me long after I finished the campaign. The proceeding prison level shows Chimera are not the only beings with feral instincts; humans have their demons as well.
And yet the narrative complicates the Resistance fiction. The opening cutscene explains the origin of the Chimeran virus, but collectible journals further rend the plot holes Insomniac tried to seal. What planet is shown through the breach in the wormhole? Where did the Chimera come from? What happened to Chimera taking prisoners? Why did they leave Earth? What role do the Cloven and “pure” Chimera play? Do the feral Chimera breed? These unanswered questions soiled my interest in this alternate reality when I concluded the writers were making the story up as the plot progressed.
This prison is run by the criminals it once housed.
Thankfully, most of Resistance 3 looks good. The locales sport impressive details and extraordinary lighting. Survivors muddle about their business in patchwork camps and shelters as the Chimeran victors recreate Earth to their liking. Never before have the environments given off an atmosphere of absolute hopelessness. Whether it’s the rained out city of St. Louis, Missouri or the quaint religious town of Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania – a neighborhood that brings back uneasy feelings of Ravenholm – each destination feels distinct.
However, the same cannot be said about the character models. I could count the number of polygons on some of Capelli's comrades, and the same can be said about the enemies. The CG-rendered cutscenes are presented beautifully, but the scarce in-game cutscenes are unimaginative. Nevertheless, Insomniac has gone to great lengths to ensure a few trivial points don't go unnoticed. Explosions of dust and snow obstruct Capelli’s view, and a well-placed headshot turns a Chimera's forehead into a small blood fountain, but Resistance: Fall of Man still reigns supreme in the graphics department.
"Come at me, bro!"
I'm happy to report the game does control better than anticipated. I was skeptical because of the awkward character movements during my time with the beta. While the game lacks the finesse of more recognized shooters like Halo or Call of Duty, not once did I die because of Joe getting snagged on the world’s geometry. Surprisingly, Resistance 3 also allows for near limitless button mapping. Want to assign the jump function to Triangle or melee to the shoulder buttons? Have at it.
Unfortunately, Resistance 3 is rife with bugs. While the Chimera are relentless in their efforts to squash the last of humanity’s rebels, the friendly AI is deplorable. Several times during the campaign, players are forced to wait for a companion character to open a door to the next area. On more than one occasion, the AI stood blindly at attention, refusing to move forward or react to incoming enemy fire. During a Widowmaker boss fight later in the campaign, I stumbled across the invisible line triggering the Chimera's spawns, but I could not injure the boss. None of the weapons in my arsenal could touch the creature. I struggled with the glitch for nearly a dozen minutes before I was forced to relinquish and reload the checkpoint. Audio files rarely sync with the onscreen events too, particularly during scripted kill sequences such as a teammate getting his head ripped off, or a Chimera getting its face bashed and beaten.
Capelli is no longer the annoying asshat from Resistance 2.
In a move that breaks from traditional FPS norm, the developers re-implemented the weapon wheel and non-regenerative health system that helped make the original Resistance so popular. No longer will fans have to contemplate which weapons have an advantage in an upcoming boss battle, yet the tactical necessity still lingers. Why bother peeking around a corner to snipe a Chimera with the Deadeye when I can shoot the savage creature through the wall with an Auger?
Keeping in line with Insomniac's other popular franchise, Ratchet & Clank, every weapon can be augmented in Resistance 3. Weapons earn experience with each Chimera slain; gain enough experience and that firearm is instantly upgraded to a new deadlier form. The tools in your arsenal can only be upgraded twice, but the enhancements are worth experimenting with when facing tougher Steelheads or Ravagers. For example, a maxed-out Auger fires three rounds through surfaces instead of one, the Marksman's iron sights are replaced with a scope, and each bullet detonated through the Magnum’s secondary fire rewards the player with a multitude of explosions. In an otherwise average shooter, the weaponry remains Resistance 3's greatest selling point.
Attack this Widowmaker's glowing weak spots for massive damage!
While the campaign is fun to play a few times through, if not to fully level Capelli's arsenal, the real staying power would be in the online component, if it was actually enjoyable. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my impressions of the Resistance 3 multiplayer beta. While I had my grievances, I took pleasure in ranking up and customizing my weapons and abilities. The standard Team Deathmatch and objective game types were familiar, and I truly felt like an asset to the team as any one of my kills could be the turnaround. I assumed Insomniac would have amended any persistent flaws before the retail launch, but we all know how that saying goes.
It seems the developers did not learn from their mistakes. None of the changes enforced during the testing period have been utilized. As it stands, the multiplayer is a jumbled mess of lag and matchmaking issues like the early beta stages. Two patches have attempted to rectify the connection problems with minimal success. Every few seconds, I encountered players teleporting around the map. On numerous occasions I was robbed of a kill because of the continuous lag spikes. I found myself pumping whole clips of ammo into my opponents just to make sure they had stopped moving.
Chances of survival while kneeling in the open? Slim to nil.
A lack of skill-based matchmaking is abysmally apparent. I was consistently paired against players that ranked ten levels higher than me. I encountered the same circumstance in the beta, but I attributed that to the limited number of participants. Maybe I could ignore this flaw if the unlocks were better balanced, but in Resistance 3, the more levels you have under your belt, the more swift death-dealing array of tools you have at your disposal. Although players are free to customize their loadouts with purchased weapons and perks, it's all the same old song and dance as any other shooter on the market. I know there are some enjoyable firefights to be had in Resistance 3 online – the maps are well designed, the action is in-your-face excitement, and the weapons drop your foes with a squeeze of the trigger. But the question remains, in a fall season packed to the brim with triple-A titles, is it worth waiting for the developers to patch this game’s crippling issues?
Resistance 3 exhibits the qualities of a spiritual successor to Resistance: Fall of Man. While the story is convoluted and key plot details go unanswered, the action is filled with fantastic set pieces, and the locales exude the eerie, ominous atmosphere I’ve come to expect from a Resistance game. Resistance 3 rewards each player’s unique gameplay style with weapon augmentations, but the frustrating multiplayer succumbs to serious lag issues. In this day and age, it baffles my mind to think developers would charge full retail prices for a product with this many glitches after an extra year in development. These issues were problems gamers had to deal with in 2001, not 2011. Resistance 3 does nothing but amount to this year's biggest disappointment.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Number of Players: 1-2 (Campaign), 2-16 (Multiplayer)
Platforms: PlayStation 3 (Reviewed)