C-12: Final Resistance has been on my mind since i first played it when i was 12, being a kid who liked cool dudes with guns the box art grabbed me but like many games back then i only have memories of playing the beginning of the game, so i decided during this unbearable summer to give my big hot PC a rest and take care of some 21 year old unfinished business… 21…
Surprise! Cyborg aliens have come to gobble up the carbon, which is everything on the planet, including the planet, we enter the game far into the process so basically imagine the Terminator-esk future where everything is destroyed and humanity is on the brink. You play as Lieutenant Riley Vaughan, a soldier who has elected to have cybernetic implants in a last ditch attempt to fight back, though the impact these implants end up having on gameplay is very minimal, during the first level you are introduced to a first person view mode where you can scan the environment for more information to help with puzzles, but after the beginning i only used it again once at the end of the game, presumably these implants also allow Riley to take lots of damage and push heavy things so let’s justify them that way and move on.
Riley is supported by a colonel of the resistance and their leading scientist, it’s at this point you’ll notice everyone in the game is British, this is because the game was developed by Sony’s Cambridge studio who were best known for making the MediEvil series, as a late PS1 game from a team with lots of experience on the platform it looks pretty good overall but it does lack in environmental details, on the city streets there’s no coffee shops or pizza places or anything besides copy pasted mid rises to sell the idea that this is a real place, there is a small construction site and a level taking place entirely within a shopping mall, but there’s more variety to the alien interiors in the 2nd half of the game.
The game is a pretty good representation of what a basic third person shooter was at the time but it doesn’t compare well to Metal Gear Solid or Syphon Filter, at the beginning you’ll mostly be using a lock on aiming system to shoot enemies but you’ll quickly find running in any direction except directly towards the enemy will break the lock, that combined with the lack of stun animations results in most firefights being a damage trade with very little dodging of projectiles, enemies sometimes drop health kits which allows this combat loop to work at the beginning of the game, but as foes get tougher it stops working at which point you’ll either stop playing or start using the first person mode. Anyone who has played Syphon Filter knows aiming in first person with a d-pad is quite a challenge, but while you’re flinging your crosshair around like an enthusiastic flag waver you may accidentally discover that headshots are a thing in this game and are very powerful, killing every bipedal enemy in the game in one hit, the hitbox for achieving this is thankfully quite generous because this ends up being the only way to succeed, besides a machine gun you’ll find alien weapons such as a laser and plasma gun which do deliver a bit more damage to enemies but you’ll always be going for the head even at point blank range, if the developers intended for the game to be played like this it would have been nice if they told you.
Along with shooting aliens other tasks you’ll be doing include pushing boxes to climb obstacles, pushing boxes to navigate hazards and finding key items to open doors, when i said this was a basic third person shooter i wasn’t kidding but there are a couple little details that make this a bit more interesting and that’s thanks to the inventory screen, think of it as Resident Evil lite, certain keys open certain doors but you’ll never have more than 2 of them, you might need to reference an item in your inventory to find the answer to a puzzle or combine some things, it’s just a nice little addition that helps break up the routine. Most of this puzzle and environment interaction is introduced in the subway level which is just as dull as it sounds, running back and forth through tunnels until you figure out what needs to go where, and this is where you’ll start looking at the well made map screen to keep track of where you’ve been, for as basic as the game can feel in the combat the inventory and map do a lot to prevent it feeling mindless.
While we’re talking positives i want to talk about the music, and possibly one of the reasons i didn’t continue playing as a child, action scenes are punctuated by the expected drum and bass of the time but the longer sections of running around dark and lonely environments come with some extremely haunting sci fi ambience, which honestly is some of the scariest music i’ve heard, there’s something about this era of video game horror music that really gets under my skin and it’s really affecting here. While there’s nothing remotely scary about the gameplay the amount of tension it builds in its quiet moments is really something, if its story was deeper and its world building better realised it could have been a very scary game.
The campaign is a linear affair, with a few larger areas separated by loading screens where you’ll be gathering items and going back and forth across the map to use them unlocking the path forward, i only got lost in these areas a few times thanks to some old fashioned obscure mission design where the answer is usually a tiny little path you didn’t see, or an unexplained mechanic such as security cameras that when scanned claim they will set an alarm off but actually open the door for you, then in the following mission those same cameras will set an alarm off… There are parts like this that feel like trial and error, which if you’re using an emulator like i did isn’t too bad with save states, but failing will take you straight to the title screen where you have to load your last checkpoint which takes minutes.
There are some mid level bosses to take on but as with the normal combat they are battles of attrition, no headshots or strategy here, the later levels have you entering alien structures and using a variety of colour coded power cores to unlock doors, while it is all indoors the variety in alien factories, storage and computer rooms is good to see and well realised, for the final level Riley is taken hostage by the aliens and stroggified, which to me is a much more disturbing visual with PS1 graphics, the environments are completely alien by this point, the combat reaches its peak difficulty and i can’t imagine not using save states towards the end.
There’s a final boss with an obscure strategy you have to figure out, i ended up looking at a walkthrough since it was kind of a pain but even then some of his attacks are so damaging it can be annoying, again save states for the win. The world is saved for now but the characters imply there is more to do shyly teasing a sequel that never came, the developer went on to make a few PS2 games which received mixed reviews, a Killzone game on Vita and a VR game on PS4 before being closed in 2017.
So am i satisfied? Sure, the cool thing about playing old games now for me is that they’re separated from the competition they faced 20 years ago, the circumstances of C-12’s release were that the PS2 was already out so it was given a budget price to try and give it a chance, so it was already kind of irrelevant at launch, but i’m completing it now because i didn’t do it as a kid and i wanted to see it for its own merits, there’s also a mystery surrounding games you touched as a kid and even though there are better games than this i can’t deny something about it pulls me in.
I give it a 6/10, i didn’t discover a diamond in the rough but i’m happy to cross it off my list.
I wasn't sure what to do with all the random screenshots i took so here's a gallery.
Thanks for reading.