We are losing the war. The Chimera virus has infected 90% of humanity and the remaining pockets of civilization huddle underground, scraping a life together among the ruins. The humanity we know has ceased to exist. All that is left is the resistance.
Joseph Capelli, the man who murdered Nathan Hale out of necessity at the end of Resistance 2, has been dishonorably discharged from the military and now lives with a small band of survivors in Haven, Oklahoma. After a Chimera attack that levels the town, he is forced to begin a new adventure that will take him across the country to destroy a tower in New York City that is rapidly dropping the temperature of the planet, making it more hospitable for the Chimera.
What ensues is an epic quest that masterfully plays the high notes and the low notes, creating a sense of pacing that was, frankly, missing from the previous entries in the series. Though the games bear the name Resistance, it isn’t until this third installment that Insomniac has truly connected with that moniker. The sense of desperation and duty that drives Capelli forward allows us to sympathize with him, especially as he is forced to leave his wife and ailing son behind to create a better world for them.
Resistance 3 is a thrill ride, from surprise attacks to large-scale conflict with enormous Chimeran weapons of war, Resistance 3 is a well-oiled machine that keeps players guessing through a variety of environments including small towns, large cities and battles on the water. You won’t get bored on your journey, as the game seamlessly transitions from open battles in the decimated streets of small-town America to creeping through abandoned mines and factories hoping to avoid feral drones and death squads. Along the way, you’ll meet memorable characters that contribute to the story’s desperate but hopeful tone. Despite the hardships, humanity perseveres.
As you make your way across the country, you’ll have the creative and varied weaponry that Insomniac is known for at your disposal, and they’ve certainly stepped up their game in Resistance 3 with a new weapon upgrade system. Simply by dealing damage with weapons, you will gain mastery of them. Each weapon has two upgrade levels that add new types of damage or enhanced functionality, like a better scope on the Marksman. You’ll want to vary your tools of destruction so you’re ready for any situation. Every weapon has an alternate fire mode, from the familiar tag ability of the Bullseye to the explosive HE rounds of the .44 Magnum.
Resistance 3 controls fluidly, shining brightest during the most heart-pounding segments. Running from overwhelming Chimera forces, unleashing a few rounds when an enemy Hybrid is in your way feels natural. Joseph stumbles and reels naturally, yet the controls never fight you. Additionally, the game manages to distinguish itself by bucking the trend of regenerating health. You’ll need to keep an eye out for green health vials to revitalize yourself. More importantly, you won’t be able to rely on breather behind cover to bring you back to full strength.
For those that lamented the loss of the weapon wheel in Resistance 2, you’ll be happy to know that it makes its return. It’s a welcome feature, especially when paired with quick-swapping weapons with a tap of the triangle button. The game also features five different grenades from EMP to the infamous Hedgehog mines that will surprise unwitting foes with an explosion of sharp needles.
In addition to the compelling single-player campaign, Resistance 3 features robust multiplayer offerings. The campaign can be played through cooperatively, and there are competitive options for every type of player. I was particularly impressed by the way the game handles matchmaking for game types. You can choose a specific game mode or a category. For instance, objective fans like me can choose to be matched with an available Breach, Capture the Flag or Chain Reaction game. There are, of course, Deathmatch options for those just looking to get their kill on. Getting into a game was always speedy.
Unfortunately, I did run into some issues with the player aspects of the matchmaking. As a lowly level 1, I was paired with players that were level 20 and above. This made progress slow, as I simply couldn’t compete. Their advanced weapons, support abilities and tactical perks overpowered me, even if I did happen to get the drop on them. I did manage to scrape my way forward, even amidst such ridiculous odds, and unlocked new loadouts and custom class options. When actually paired with similarly leveled foes, the game is enjoyable, but that rarely happens.
Should you manage to run up a string of 3, 6 or 9 kills, you’ll gain access to kill-streak style “Beserks” that give you an energy shield or cloak; an unlimited, fully-upgraded Auger; and combat armor that boosts your damage resistance and transforms your weapon into a grenade launcher. If you see one of these big brutes coming, it’s best to run the other way and wait out the carnage.
I also noticed that some of the abilities in the game are wildly unbalanced. The “Leaper Corpse” ability, in particular, felt unfair. This ability spawns four Chimeran Leapers when a player dies. They immediately attack the nearest enemy, which is usually the person that ended the ability-user’s life. It quickly became clear why nearly every player that had unlocked that ability was using it. With some balancing (which Insomniac will be doing in upcoming patches), Resistance 3’s multiplayer will have a long shelf life thanks to variety and the upcoming Survival DLC, which will introduce a new mode and multiplayer skins.
There is a ton of content to unlock in the shop using credits earned from playing the campaign and multiplayer, including titles, skins, cheats (for use after you complete the campaign once) and concept art. For those looking to unlock everything, you’ll be busy for a while. In addition, those gamers with a Playstation Move can take advantage of motion controls, and the game supports the Sharpshooter peripheral.
Visually, the Resistance series has taken huge strides since Fall of Man. The visual style has matured over the years, and this latest installment finally feels like Insomniac has settled into a specific art style for the series. The lighting and particle effects are brilliant and immersive, while the animations (with the notable exception of ascending a ladder) are fluid. The game supports stereoscopic 3D for those that have the equipment to make the most of it.
I also greatly enjoyed the care taken in the audio design. The peaks and valleys of the action are perfectly complemented by booming scores and subtle melodies respectively. When the action is heavy, the game is loud and impressive. When Joseph is sneaking through enemy infested areas, though, the game is eerily quiet, putting you on edge in anticipation of the next thrill.
Resistance 3 fulfills the promise made when the series first launched on the Playstation 3. It’s taken Insomniac a while to distinguish the game from other shooters, but now that it has, the Resistance series stands tall among other franchises flying the “Only on Playstation” banner.
The character development, pacing and narrative crafting make Resistance 3 a game that shooter fans, even those that weren’t in love with Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2, should check out.
Review copy provided by publisher.