A war you wish had changed
Some developers tend to have excellent track records with nary a misstep in their portfolio while others release average games then put out a huge titanic megahit the following year. Insomniac is not victim to this because you can't really say outright that there's been one bad game that they've made; sure some may not be your taste but they're far from terrible. That said, nostalgia and time doesn't always equal fuzzy memories and what was once enjoyable becomes frustrating, exciting becomes tedious and so on. So when you have a game that's nearing it's 5 year anniversary of release, much improvements can be made in the genre and this is where Resistance: Fall of Man becomes a victim of the yesteryear school of design. Often infuriating yet occasionally fun, this game is no doubt something that's very easy to admire but oh so hard to love.
In alternate 1950's, World War 2 didn't actually happen but another war did start to break out: the war with the Chimera, strange creatures that suddenly started attacking Europe and making its way to England. You play as Sergeant Nathan Hale, an American soldier infected with the Chimeran virus where he gains abilities like health regeneration but also makes his eyes glow yellow. Hale works his way through the ruined cities and fields of England as he tries to repel the Chimera threat. While the sequel tried to introduce the "bigger, badder, better" philosophy with mixed results, one thing Fall of Man does do well is its story in that it unfolds well, has a really cool history building up to the events of the game and strangely, one thing benefits the game that was entirely absent in Resistance 2: Rachel Parker. A British soldier you rescue, Parker serves as the narrator, similar to other war games that have voice actors during mid-level cutscenes talking about the exploits and triumphs/defeats of their fellow soldiers. Having Rachel narrate Hale's story gives a cool investigative tone.
However, the game works really hard at not letting you see more of the story and that's where my chief complaint comes in: the actual design of the game. Chimera seem to take an inordinate amount of bullets to die, checkpoints are either too sparse in the wrong places or frequent in the dumbest (read: easiest) places and some instant kill traps can come out of left field and on sequence in a cathedral was incredibly infuriating to the point I nearly turned the game off. Although the game does vary the pacing a tad with some vehicle sections where you can wreck some shit up, you traveling through rooms taking out baddies or full-on war with you and fellow squad AI (who die way too quickly). At 30 levels, it's certainly a lengthy campaign as well though whether you think it overstays its welcome is up to you.
Insomniac's trademark of having wild guns continues though while not up to the zanyness of Ratchet and Clank, there's certainly some unique weapons to be found. The ever useful Bullseye has a "tag" alternate fire where once you tag an enemy, every subsequent bullet targets specifically that enemy which helps strafing runs with minimal aim. The auger with a deployable shield and guns that see through solid objects is quite handy and the hedgehog grenade where spikes get shot out are great fun. The enemy designs are pretty basic and despite their high resistance (har har) to bullets, their AI is quite sharp and seem to be quite accurate as well.
The online from what I can theorize would've been quite fun with 20 vs 20 with some really open maps, all weapons available and ran incredibly well with barely any lag or framerate issues or the never-welcome hit detection but here's the thing: don't bother playing this game online now. Ranked matches is literally a wasteland and inside the unranked? Well, hope you like one-hit kills because that's literally all it is: one-hit kills turned on, infinite ammo and no health regeneration means quick deaths, campers and people tossing grenades in every which direction in hopes that they kill someone. Sure it's unranked so not like you lose anything but I remember 3 years ago when I have a PS3, this game was remarkably fun online, now this crop of players still going have single-handedly ruined the online for me.
Since Resistance 3 releases this year, part of me wanted to revisit the first 2 games to brush up not only on my lore and story but to get a good look at the progression of the series. Because of this, I sincerely hope Resistance 3 becomes the perfect release and welcome finale for the trilogy because the game design hurt Fall of Man, while the campaign hurt Resistance 2 but as a first starter, Fall of Man is...decent. It's dated to be sure but it's a solid shooter, albeit one I wish was made more recently or at least with better design choices.