One of the most fun and frantic shooters you can find.
Sony has been pushing the third chapter of the constant collision between humanity and the Chimeran invaders (though they're now our landlords more than anything) pretty hard since it's official announcement in 2010; playing through the games fantastic single player campaign will show you why. Even with the sacrifices Resistance 3 made over its predeccesor within the multiplayer department, its campaign easily ranks as the best within the main series.
Four years after Resistance 2 and humanity is in a pretty rough spot. The War against the Chimeran invasion is over; we lost. The initial invasion of the Chimera is now a full scale occupation, and humans are a frighteningly small minority. It's a brilliant premise that sets an off-kilter mood that you don't encounter very often in games. You're not playing through this campaign to beat the Big Bad, you're simply trying to survive in a World that no longer appreciate your presence. Because of the Chimeran species populating near enough the entire world, nature has already begun to change, with strange explosive plants forming. The main issue, however, is the encroaching ice cold blizzard that is threatening to envelop the world. The Chimera have established a huge tower within New York City to better create a more habitable environment for themselves since they can't live without the cold. A blistering cold that is also, inconveniently enough, rather life-threatening to us homo-sapien folk.
This impeding death-march of cold sets in motion the long, winding road for the new series hero, and returning ally, Joseph Capelli, alongside practically the only other character who survived through Resistance 2, Fyodor Malikov.
The story itself follows a predictable set of motifs, as Joseph travels across the Southern United States routing an impressive amount of Chimera along the way. Complications will arise, and of course nearly nothing really seems to sway in ole Joe's favour. The actual atmosphere with its strong aroma of dread and despair, elevated with strikingly derelict environments and a somber soundtrack, is what pulls you along. To put it lightly, Resistance 3 looks pretty great, with some solid environmental variety and some well established lighting throughout. It sets the tone rather nicely, even if the script and its cast doesn't quite deliver on that same level of appropriate gloom & doom - not down to the tone, mind you, but just some pretty lazy writing overall, with dialogue as generic as what you'd expect from some late night Syfy channel original.
Joseph Capelli himself isn't exactly an all-too engaging leading man, either; he's at least marginally more likeable because of his status as a loving family man, though you would be hard pressed to try and distinguish him apart from the previous no-nonsense protagonist Nathan Hale. Joe is, at the very least, well voiced with veteran voice actor Robin Atkin Downes steering his cords in all the right directions; one particular scene where he talks through a radio professing the love to his family, choking up on emotion, is both a welcome snippet of well acted tear-plunging oomph and a disappointing revelation as to how the entire story could have proceeded as. The voice cast across most characters has some well versed stock in fact. Malikov is once again voiced by Greg Ellis--who does a... kinda boring, but still well enough performance--while new character Charlie Tent joins the fray with Crispin Freeman backing him up, giving what was required.
Despite the doom-some atmosphere and oppressive-aspiring story, the gameplay of Resistance 3 is as fast and furious as previous entries. As a first-person shooter, it doesn't quite break any boundaries, or molds its own innovations, though the replacement of the oft-administered regenerating health from modern shooters (including Resistance 2) with a reliance on health packs does adhere to its sense of overwhelming odds forcing you to take a more defensive stance more than you might expect. But on the other hand, the revival of the weapon-wheel, showcasing up to 10 weapons old and new for the series, certainly makes going all out in a frenzy with all of your crazy weaponry very persuading. You can find health-packs strewn all around, instantly healing you as walk over, though (besides a couple of occurrences) they're very much finite and sometimes, especially nearing the end, there will be times where you're forced into a corner, attempting to adapt within your feeble mortality. Running and gunning is a very affable solution, though taking advantage of your surroundings and the cover it offers up will be downright necessary at times.
As mentioned earlier, you'll get to traverse through a well varied suite of locals, ranging from the opening rag-tag ghost towns of Oklahoma, to claustrophobic mine shafts, a stroll through a sniper-infest forest at night, a crumbling prison complex, the snow-drowned city of New York and of course more of the super sheen and clean Chimeran bases. They're all very well designed and perfectly mix up the pace to giving more linear corridors to careen, to much more open environments that offer up (in tandem with your substantial weapon armoury) many different ways to tackle the combat scenarios. The scenes in New York City especially made for some incredible set-pieces, clambering through all of the makeshift paths and bridges created via the chaos and destruction that stretches throughout.
Of course what really matters here, like any good Insomniac game, is the weapons, and Resistance 3 delivers even more predictably zany, inventive and just downright fun weapons to fire (and alt-fire) and purge your way through the Chimeran forces. There are 10 weapons in total, made up of some old favourites like the Bullseye and the Auger, with some new already-favourites like the Atomizer: a weapon that shoots out arcs of electricity gravitating towards anything and everything in front of it within short range The best part is it's alternate fire which creates a strong singularity that pulls in all enemies within a short range and murders them slowly as they fruitlessly attempt to escape its awesome power. Fucking sexy. There's also the Mutator, another soon-to-be fan favourite for sure, for how it hilariously turns all its unfortunate enemies its goop lands on into pulsating piles of explosive warts.
And because of the newly introduced leveling up mechanic for the weapons--a concept no doubt influenced by Insomniac's own Ratchet & Clank series--even the weapons that have murdered for you from the beginning can feel somewhat new, and introduce a few additional tactics to take hold of. The mainstay Bullseye, for example, once leveled up to the maximum Level 3 can actually allow your targeting blip, that allows your bullets to follow wherever your target flees to, burst into three, with three enemies now victim to a swarm of the Bullseye's talents.
Naturally Resistance 3 also encompasses an ensemble cast of monstrous Chimeran creatures for you to let loose all of that previously mentioned weaponry. Some of the roster consists of what would be considered series staples at this point: the regular Hybrid infantry, the creepy, insect-like Leechers, the Auger-toting Steel Heads and the zombie-esque Grims. But of course, amidst those four years, the Chimera have upgraded and conceived a whole manner of additional Chimera. The Hybrids themselves also are amongst a small variety of kin, starting with the standard Bullseye equipped grunt, now alongside stealth Hybrid Snipers, Hybrids with jet-propelled machinery attached to their legs giving them the benefit of leaping massive distances and even Hybrids with rocket-launchers. There is also a much more explosive variant of the Grims as well; already infected with the strand of Chimeran virus that fuels the Mutator weapon, these fucks always love to charge at you hoping to leave you covered in their bodily goo.
Mini boss battles are a real stand-out like previous Resistance titles to along with it. Joseph will have to contend against a few Stalker mechs once again and there'll be large Widowmaker monsters that look like something straight out of a sci-fi B-movie. The highlight across the lot, though, definitely goes to the Brawler. A huge, gorilla-like creature which will enjoy making use of the environment, swinging and climbing all over the place, probably as much as you will watching him. The animation work alone defies expectations and is a great spectacle to be sure.
Even with so many glorious set-pieces to bask in, weapons to play around and enemies to butcher, Resistance 3 can still get a little tiresome, courtesy of the boring characters that carry along the campaign and the odd section that goes on for a little too long - the residential streets of the Grims in particular. Not to mention the odd glitch I encounter as well. One notable bug actually somehow set all of the Chimera to neutral and wouldn't even attack me at all; I would be standing there mowing them down whilst they stood there completely nonplussed. Another couple of bugs were down to the annoyingly over-scripted AI squad-mates you'll sometimes be forced to tag along with. Instances were my allies would simply stand there, ignoring the world and the carnage raining around them cropped up once, and I was also forced to reload a checkpoint when I got too far ahead of a friendly NPC passing a point of no return, with him still stuck in the ''return''. There was also a consistently stubborn glitch where I couldn't play the game solo instead of coop (more on that soon); no matter how many times I'd choose single player, the game would initiate with that same damned split-screen, even after a restart and turning the second pad off. It took a day for the game to finally give me the satisfaction of going solo.
Resistance 3 still for the most parts run very well, and the occasional glitch encountered only left me sore because of how well done the game is otherwise. Minus some laughably awkward ladder-climbing animations and off-putting lip synching in the cutscenes, Resistance 3 is a technically decent PS3 title, with some great looking vistas and a frame-rate so smooth and consistent that it'll warm your heart. It's not quite reaching the heights of the Uncharteds or the Killzones, though it does what it can and expertly so in some particular areas.
Blemishes aside, the elephant in the room for me was the removal of the separate 8 player cooperative campaign from Resistance 2. It easily stood as my favourite aspect of what I thought was a brilliant and complete package. What you at least get instead is the return of the story campaign coop, which goes along close to the exact same fashion as it did in 2006's Resistance: Fall of Man. Online or offline in splitscreen, a buddy can play alongside you across the entire 9-10 hour campaign. The second player character at least has a name (John Harper), unlike the mysterious black man from FoM, though besides some minor acknowledgement in the very beginning during the tutorial in the firing range, the second player is virtually omitted from everything to do with the story. It's still joyful fun to ride through what is, on its own, a brilliant campaign with a friend, but if they really had to completely cut the separate cooperative campaign from R2 in exchange for this, the least they could have done is implemented the coop into the main campaign a little better. There's not even any matchmaking, so you're stricted to playing with someone you know. Not a big deal, to be sure, since that's how it should best be played in the first place. But it's 2011, people... c'mon.
This wouldn't be a Resistance game if it didn't feature a competitive multiplayer component to wrap it up. Though much like the cooperative aspect, the competitive multiplayer has been skimmed down a few, too. Gone are the large-scale 60 player battles, replaced with more close-quarter 16 man battles; perks, killstreaks and a lot of the expected tropes are on display here, like all shooters in the Call of Duty dominating market. Fortunately because of all the fancy weapons (which you can still carry all at once; health packs are replaced with health regeneration, though), it sets itself apart through the sheer insanity some matches can escalate towards. Some of the perks and killstreaks are also rather creative, with one such perk that forces Chimeran leechs to seep out of your body when you are killed showing the extents of how un-ordinary the multiplayer can get. The frame-rate is pretty choppy, however, and is most noteworthy specifically because of the silky smooth frame-rate the single player possesses. It's overall fun for what it is; nothing particularly stand-out, though an adequate package rain or shine.
The forfeit of so many options towards the once large and expansive multiplayer entourage, marring against the superior single-player, almost makes Resistance 3 appear like the Bizarro edition of Resistance 2. It's a shame it couldn't have ended up with the best of both worlds, though it's easy to take solace in what is at least a suitably grand single-player campaign.