Ever since the PlayStation 3 launched in 2006 with the original Resistance leading the charge, Insomniac's sci-fi shooting franchise has been among the premier titles in Sony's lineup. That's not to say it's been an entirely smooth ride to this point. Resistance has seen a number of changes in design and feature-set over its history, receiving a mixed reception from critics and fans alike. During the lead-up to Resistance 3's launch, Insomniac stressed their desire to create a more focused experience this time around, one that still maintained the staples of the franchise.
Does Resistance 3 deliver on that promise? In short: Yes, but with some caveats. On the one hand, the campaign is clearly more focused, personal and varied than the series has ever seen, with a stunning visual presentation and spectacular set pieces to boot. However, somewhat underdeveloped characters, occasionally broken enemy behavior and a general feeling of familiarity hold it back from being associated with the genre's best. In terms of online multiplayer, all of the above rings true, narrative and AI notwithstanding.
Set four years after the conclusion of Resistance 2, humanity's prospects in the struggle against the Chimera are bleak. Newly anointed series protagonist, Joseph Capelli, reluctantly picks up where Nathan Hale, the man he killed to prevent full Chimeran conversion, left off. Alongside his family and neighbours, Capelli had been scratching out a simple existence - hidden from the Chimera within a makeshift, underground sanctuary - until Dr. Malikov arrives alongside a Chimeran death squad. Convinced the survival of humanity somehow lies in shutting off the wormhole that's rapidly cooling Earth's core temperature, Malikov and Capelli's wife, who just so happens to be Nathan Hale's sister, eventually persuade him to travel to New York City to rectify the source of the problem.
<img src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6165/6148185003_f292ff5623_z.jpg" width="520 alt="Resistance 3 - I made it" style="margin-left: 35px;">
From the outset, Resistance 3 attempts to tell a more personal story in Capelli's quest to provide a brighter future for his family. The introductory sequences do a good job of creating a sense of place and attachment to the characters, but as the game progresses, the emotional gravity of the situation and the supporting characters tend to get glossed over as Capelli and Malikov march toward New York. Aside from a handful of interesting plot twists midway through, Resistance 3's story plays out largely how you would expect, leaving the characters slightly underdeveloped. It's strange that much of the character development was left out of the actual game despite being quite apparent in the prequel novel Resistance: A Hole In The Sky.
Fortunately, the journey in and of itself is a well-paced and memorable one, filled with epic set pieces and situational variety. From battling through hordes of infested villages, navigating sniper-filled valleys, clinging to life against massive spider and worm-like monsters, and everything inbetween, Resistance 3 routinely presents players with a new experience around each corner. Certain scenarios where Cappelli is thrust into the middle of a battle between two vying factions add to the variety and are among the game's most exciting moments.
On a more basic mechanical level, this is an experience that clearly attempts to recapture the feeling of the original Resistance. Cast aside in Resistance 2, the weapon wheel and non-regenerating health system make a welcome return and give the campaign a more distinct personality. Scrambling for health packs adds weight to an otherwise ordinary firefight and the ability to choose from all of your accumulated weapons allows for a more tactical approach. All the series' staple weapons make an appearance - such as the Auger, Rossmore shotgun and Bullseye rifle - alongside a handful of new ones. The disintegrating Atomizer and bone-chilling Cryogun are notable additions, but the game definitely skews toward the known quantities. A wider selection of new, exotic weapons would've gone a long way. On the other hand, the upgrade system is executed flawlessly. New abilities for each weapon unlock automatically simply by using them in combat. It's a very natural way to evolve a player's desired play style, while encouraging experimentation.That being said, the campaign has its share of drawbacks. On normal difficulty, enemy behavior can become easily broken, leading to situations where groups of Chimera stand in place taking fire, completely unaware of your presence and unable to react properly. This problem seemed especially prevalent when using the Auger behind cover, but, nevertheless, would occur regardless of the weapon used. Inconsistent visual cues when progressing through a level also became an issue. Waiting for the objective prompt to appear onscreen or pausing to check the menu were required too often.
In terms of multiplayer, Resistance 3 offers split-screen co-op through the campaign, in addition to an online experience that also strives for a tight, focused approach. Gone are Resistance 2's massive environments, player counts and separate online co-op. In their place are smaller maps and modes that encourage frequent, pickup-and-play action. There's a decent selection and the maps are well designed. Additionally, 'Passive' and 'Active' abilities represent Insomniac's take on the progression elements popularized by Call of Duty. Alongside rewards for going on killing sprees and completing objectives, there are rechargeable abilities that can be used regardless of performance. Much like Resistance's exotic weaponry, these abilities add some personality to multiplayer and are executed in a way that avoids putting new players at an unfair disadvantage.
Resistance 3's online multiplayer is competent and well-executed, but attracting a large community amongst the intense competition in the shooter space remains a daunting task. Regardless of its long-term success, the focused maps and interesting take on perks add just enough personality to make investing in the experience worthwhile. Bottom line: It's no slouch and represents a valiant effort from Insomniac.
Whether playing through the campaign or multiplayer, Resistance 3's presentation is immediately striking, easily among the top console offerings thus far. The voice-acting and sound design get the job done nicely, but it's the incredible lighting, detailed environments and overall visual aesthetic that truly sets the game apart. The lighting effects alone make the Chimeran-infested, apocalyptic landscapes look jaw-droppingly gorgeous, with the clear attention to detail throughout rounding out the package. Even the little details like seeing Capelli's arms flail as he loses balance from an exploding shell or from picking himself off the ground add to the experience. Resistance 3 stands with the likes of Uncharted and Killzone as benchmarks for the platform.
Resistance 3 reigns in the lofty ambitions of its predecessor, instead focusing on delivering a tight campaign and multiplayer experience, which it successfully delivers. The personal story, stunning visuals, solid pacing and grandiose set pieces make for a memorable journey, but one with its share of flaws. Occasionally broken enemy behavior, somewhat underdeveloped characters, and a general feeling of familiarity throughout represent the main drawbacks. Additionally, the online multiplayer is workmanlike in execution, but not distinctive enough to contend with the genre's giants. If Resistance 3 turns out to be Insomniac's last in the series, they've certainly gone out on a high note.
|Focused and varied campaign.|
|Impressive and polished visual presentation.|
|A good range of multiplayer options.|
|Overall lack of uniqueness.|
|Broken enemy behavior on occasions.|
|Very few new weapons.|