Confounding single-player is a huge letdown.
Very few major gaming sites called out Resistance 2 (Giant Bomb excepted) on its confusing, disappointing single-player campaign. While the original Resistance offered a rigorous challenge with a reasonably engaging storyline with sparks of unique personality, Resistance 2 sags with unfulfilled potential.
The game is technically sound, with a decent graphics engine, solid gunplay and reasonable enemy AI. But everything else just falls off the rails. The storyline is nearly incomprehensible, as characters are constantly shouting and pulling you from location to location with no clear explanation of what you're supposed to do or why you should care. You fight alongside squadmates whom you never get to know. I frequently wasn't even sure if I was still playing as protaganist Nathan Hale, as the game would show Hale in cutscenes or in-engine sequences that suggested he could be an NPC. The game feels hurried and rushed, pulling you through levels at breakneck speed with no time to get your bearings straight or understand what the point of any given level is.
Level design doesn't help matters much, as laughably linear pathways funnel you ever forward. Resistance 2 plays as a rail shooter without the rails, teasing you with fantastic environments ... somewhere over there ... and blocking you off with invisible walls or tactlessly placed obstructions that remove any semblance of immersion. Such a missed opportunity. As you explore the wreckage of post-invasion, 1950s United States, you never feel like you're exploring genuine environments. You always know you're in a video game level, endlessly blasting away at critters in your monotonous drive forward. Even boss fights are reduced to pre-programmed sequences that feel completely inorganic. Sure, the sometimes colossal foes make a great first impression, but you better get quick wtih the sequence or it's game over for you. There is no sense of discovery, merely more obvious patterning pushing you forward.
The entire experience became so aggravating I had to quit halfway through the campaign and just trade the game in. Particularly when compared to the ample supply of excellent AAA shooters on the market, there's really no excuse for playing through something as remedial as Resistance 2.
Multiplayer is another story, as the game's solid core gunplay and technical design set the stage for serviceable online warfare. But again, the trouble with Resistance 2 is that it's outclassed by its competition. In a genre where players gravitate around the best of the best, third- or fourth- or fifth-place doesn't count for much.
Insomniac is capable of much better than what Resistance 2 put on display, so this experience won't make me look forward to the inevitable Resistance 3 any less. A smart developer will recognize and learn from its mistakes, so I hope the next installment in Nathan Hale's world will finally live up to the franchise's elite potential.