Review: Resistance 3 Campaign
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Review by: Shane Roberts
The Resistance series has been a strange thing on the Playstation 3. In fact, Insomniac Games in general has been an interesting case. Resistance: Fall of Man was the only launch title to speak of for the PS3. For the time, it played more like Goldeneye than Halo, and for many that was the best thing that could possibly be said about it. It was, by default, the first big competitive multiplayer title on Sony’s console. The campaign that could be played completely cooperatively was novel at the time, the main character was modest and subtle (something that may never be done in a game again), and the alternate-universe post-apocalyptic 1950’s felt new and innovative. For many PS3 owners, it was the first first-person shooter they had played since Goldeneye. It was their Halo. For me, it was one of the most enjoyable competitive multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had. So few people owned a PS3, and even fewer had a copy of the game, and a high-speed internet connection, and were actively playing the game online. On Insomniac’s game forums, we were talking directly with the developers about tweaks in the multiplayer… and getting responses from them.
But it wasn’t a great game. Neither was Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. People described it like a Pixar film, but it was closer to Dreamworks, and I’m not talking about graphical quality. Resistance 2 came around and was even more flawed. However, in the crowded first-person shooter genre, you have to give people credit for trying something new. Resistance 2 introduced a standalone team-based co-op mode that introduced MMORPG elements to the gameplay. It was incredibly repetitive, but it was new.
Resistance 3 is Insomniac’s sixth PS3 game, practically an unheard of number from a single developer on a single console. Insomniac, at least up until now, has essentially been a first-party studio, having Sony’s full support in their endeavors. For all these reasons, Resistance 3 should be an incredible game, and look it, and because of Insomniac’s pedigree, feel new. But it doesn’t. Quite the opposite in fact, it’s a throwback to the first Resistance and the PC shooters that came before it. Insomniac listened to their fans when they said they preferred Resistance to Resistance 2, but they took that sentiment far too much to heart. Resistance 3 re-introduces health packs in favor of regenerating health, and lets you carry and switch between every weapon in the game at once. These design choices might sound like a dream to some, but they add little in actual practice. The health vials don’t make the game more tense, they just bring the issue of enemies that have impossibly good aim from incredible distances, and do more damage instead of becoming smarter on harder difficulties to the forefront. This is an issue in every shooter right now of course, but while games like Rage are promising to try and change that, while Resistance 3 is basking in it. Carrying around the whole arsenal all the time on the other hand should give the developers leeway to impose a more strategic game on the player, but all it really does is let you decide how to kill the waves of enemies that tend to just blend together.
The same level of mediocrity applies to the rest of the title’s gameplay. On rails sequences are dull and without tension, and what’s worse, things like the train battle have to be compared to Uncharted 2’s train battle, and we all know how that comparison’s going to go. Unfortunately Resistance 3 doesn’t compare favorably to any of the other “AAA” titles this year. R3 is shorter than the other titles in the franchise, scraps the standalone co-op game in favor of bringing back playing the single-player campaign with two people, and has little replay value. It’s also, surprisingly for Insomniac, filled with glitches. Elevator doors glitch and don’t open, enemies don’t spawn, non-playable characters don’t keep moving, flashlights don’t turn on in pitch black areas, all forcing a restart from the last checkpoint. For trophy hunters, many of the trophies are also finicky and very poorly-worded, forcing turning to an online guide. One of the game’s areas is almost an exact copy of Half-Life 2’s Ravenholm, right down to the priest.
The game’s story is the worst in the series, and not just because protagonist Nathan Hale is dead. Resistance 2 character Joseph Capelli, the franchise’s equivalent of Killzone’s Rico, has become the new hero, and been given a complete makeover even more extreme than Cole McGrath from Infamous to Infamous 2. Capelli’s wife and child are the catalyst for his journey, but we aren’t given nearly enough time to care about them before Capelli runs off. Three games later (not counting every other mid-century alternate universe apocalypse), the setting just isn’t that interesting. What’s worse, major landmarks are barely recognizable. I went to college in Washington Square Park in Manhattan for four years, and had no idea the level in question was set there, even after playing through it multiple times. Insomniac claims many little touches like seeing Capelli’s wedding ring during reload animations and very subtle, hidden references to future games, but these are similarly barely noticeable. The graphics are fine in single-player, but add a co-op buddy and prepare for one ugly game. The science fiction present is laughable.
Resistance 3 is average at best, but with so many games coming it’s hard to even recommend it as a rent. Average is not acceptable for the sixth game on a single console from this studio. And yet, somehow, I’m still looking forward to Overstrike.
Rating: 2 out of 5