A strong end to a slightly disappointing series
I almost didn’t play Resistance 3. Having been merely satisfied with the first Resistance, I played Resistance 2 eagerly. That game was almost a disaster, thanks to all of the changes made by the airheaded dolts in the Marketing Department to make the game more like Call of Duty and Halo. Resistance 3 returns to its roots, and makes a few improvements too. The weapon wheel is back, and, along with it, the ability to kill enemies in about 20 interesting ways at any one time. This game presents a very strong FPS campaign – one of the better ones in years It is close to greatness, but a few nagging design flaws drag it down. Even with its flaws though, it is the best in the series, and you should play it regardless of whether you played the other games in this series.
Resistance 3 is, in a lot of ways, a throwback first person shooter. It has a very strong Half-Life 2 vibe to it, thanks to its perfectly paced campaign and its creative arsenal of weapons. Both of these strengths don’t’ exist in many shooters nowadays. The activities in Resistance 3 are constantly changing. It feels like a great post-apocalyptic, cross country adventure, where you are hardly ever doing this same thing for more than a few minutes. For a few minutes, you might be in survival horror mode, fighting abominations that spawn at close range. The next few minutes, you might be defending a train from a horde of enemies. There are no parts that drag, and no boring moments.
If you have played other Insomniac games, then you are already familiar with the other great strength of this one – awesome weapons. No other developer in the business can give you 12 weapons and have every one of them feel a little bit different, as well as useful in their own way. The weapons are also very creative in some instances. There are the usual mainstays of the genre like the assault rifle/grenade launcher combo, sniper rifle, and shotgun. In addition to those guns, however, there are a lot of really cool sci-fi weapons related to the setting. The Auger (which shoots through walls) returns, and so does the Bullseye, a pulse rifle that you can use to “tag” moving enemies and hit them easier. There is a cryo-gun, a devastating electricity weapon, and my favorite – a virus gun that makes enemies writhe in pain and puke before collapsing into a pile of disgusting goo. They all have a useful secondary fire, and in Resistance 3, you can also upgrade them. A la Ratchet and Clank, you gain experience with weapons, and when they “level up”, you get a new perk, such as incendiary ammo.
Resistance 3 also has the best story of the series, mostly because they finally wrote one that gives you a reason to care about the main character. Nathan Hale (the protagonist from Resistance 1 and 2) ultimately seemed like just a generic soldier with no personality. Joe (Resistance 3’s protagonist), on the other hand, is an ordinary guy who is just desperately trying to protect his family and prevent human extinction. He ultimately takes up the role of the hero because there is nobody else available to do it. As he journeys from Oklahoma to New York, he meets an interesting cast of characters and helps them with their own little mini-stories on the way.
Resistance 3 harkens back to about 2004, which is actually kind of refreshing. It is, fact, so old fashioned in a couple of ways that it is practically disorienting. The most obvious way is that your health does not regenerate. Games have been training us so long not to worry about losing a bit of your health that it suddenly seems unfair that in Resistance 3, you can lose half of it in one engagement and not regain it by resting behind a wall for a few seconds. You are suddenly forced to remember habits and techniques that you haven’t had to use since 2005. Gamers suffering from “two weapons, regenerating health and cover system” fatigue should consider playing Resistance 3. The one bit of relief that you won’t get though is in the color palette. Resistance 3 is about 90% brown and it’s pretty ugly, even for a post-apocalyptic game. The engine shows few improvements since the launch, and it is pretty far behind the other great looking games on the PS3.
Resistance 3 has all of the ingredients of an excellent “run-and-gun” shooter, but, unfortunately, it doesn’t quite turn out that way. The game has a couple of design issues that sound minor on paper, but severely affect the game’s ability to get the most out of its strengths. One of the issues with Resistance 3 is that its somewhat high difficulty forces you to play through the game conservatively, often resorting to one or two weapons for each set of engagements. Other than with trophies, the game fails to give you incentive to experiment and kill enemies in as many fun ways as possible. Enemies can aim instantly with almost perfect accuracy, which means that you can never linger out in the open for very long. It also means that the only way to get through a lot of encounters is by retreating backwards to a sniping point or using the Auger (which lets you shoot through walls) to pick off groups of enemies who are generally pretty stupid. Your movement speed is downright glacial and prevents you from engaging most enemies at close range while you strafe. Most environments are heavily cluttered, which often makes shot dodging impossible. It’s not that the game is very hard. It’s just that when the heat gets turned up, the game encourages you to play it like a coward, losing sight of the special features that can make it so fun. These little problems don’t keep the game from being fun to play, but they do keep it from achieving true greatness. A little less clutter in the areas combined with better movement speed could have gotten it there.
The Resistance series ultimately feels like somewhat of a missed opportunity. Despite consistent teasing through three titles, the big picture story never developed. The character from the first two games was pretty much a throwaway, and now that they created a guy worth caring about, it looks like the series is over. We never found out the exact nature of the chimera, and we never got to see the war end. Resistance 3 is easily the best game of this series, and unfortunately, it sounds like it might be the last. With that said, Resistance 3 is a very good first person shooter, and I would love to see it continued on the next generation of consoles.