When you think of developer Insomniac Games two games obviously come to mind. Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank have been two of the most successful franchises in the Sony camp for a long time and Insomniac was behind both of them. Now what you probably don’t know is that these guys created a game early in the life of the PSOne that was sans a loveable mascot and chock full of aliens and big guns. This little known title was called Disruptor and it still remains one of the greatest unknown treasures in the PSOne library.
When I heard Insomniac was crafting a game for the PS3 launch I automatically assumed that Ratchet would be making a return. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the developer had returned to their FPS roots and decided to construct a launch title certainly worthy of the title of killer-app.
The game takes place in an alternate reality setting where World War II never occurred. Instead the game focuses on a monstrous alien race known as the Chimera that appear out of nowhere and begin to slowly wipe out the entire human population. These creatures begin in Asia and slowly work their way across the continent into the United Kingdom where you, the typical American soldier, are sent in to wipe them out before they reach the shores of the U.S.
While most of the cut scenes are presented through short in-game sequences the main plot never fully develops. You find yourself less and less interested in what is happening to your protagonist and more about what beautiful locale you will be cutting down the Chimera in next. The story is basically just an excuse to move from one firefight to the next, but it does get the job done with a decent narrative from a third party soldier who briefly interacts with you along your journey.
As far as gameplay is concerned Resistance isn’t going to reinvent the wheel in the genre, but it does do just about everything right. The Sixaxis controller’s new triggers work extremely well for the FPS genre and the analog sticks feel much more precise for this type of game. Resistance also implements a small bit of motion sensing into the game with Sony’s new controller. There is a specific enemy that will latch onto your character and you will have to shake the controller to get them off. While it is subtle and you could easily have left it out, it does add a nice little touch to the game.
The star of Resistance isn’t the gameplay though, as far as that is concerned the game is very similar to just about everything else on the market today. What does set it apart though are the weapons. Resistance has one of the coolest and most inventive weapon sets I have seen in an FPS in a long time. While you will still have your shotgun, machine gun, and of course rocket launcher, you will also have a plethora of alien weapons that have some really cool features for both online and off. For instance the Bullseye has a lock-on tag that you can fire with the alternate attack and it sends all bullets to that one area, so for instance you could tag an enemy, then duck behind cover and fire away from safety.
There is also a gun that fires giant balls of explosive goodness that are proximity triggered. Fill an area up with these and let the good times roll as enemies mindlessly walk into the portable mine fields you have created. Resistance takes on more of a run and gun approach as opposed to a methodical shooter, so unlike other current games in the genre you can carry as many guns as you wish. There are no limitations on how many firearms you can carry, which while not very realistic does make for one kickass arsenal at your disposal. Once you finish the game you will also unlock a collection of firearms that you can use in the single-player or in online matches. Needless to say the game is certainly not lacking in the firearms department.
Another really impressive aspect of Resistance is the environments. Whether you are battling it out in close quarters on the streets or running head first into a giant battlefield full of explosions the game certainly keeps the eyes entertained. There are ten major locales throughout the main single-player game and each one is unique and chock full of glorious HD visuals. Smoke effects will blind your vision and the amount of enemies and objects onscreen really shows what the PS3 is capable of technically. The game runs at a rock solid frame rate even with all of this action going on, which is a feat in and of itself.
As I mentioned earlier once you complete the game’s solo mode you will unlock new weapons to use as you go back through it. There is also a nice split screen co-op mode, but I really don’t understand why it isn’t online. Regardless it is a nice addition even if it makes no sense that a completely random soldier is running around with you in the storyline. Playing a co-op game makes the game a bit easier because you can heal your team mate, which will come in handy on the harder difficulties. There are also a set of skill points you can earn which are very similar to Xbox 360’s Achievement system. These include things such as killing so many enemies with one grenade and can be used to unlock bonus artwork and concept drawings.
However the lifeline for Resistance, and the true test of how long people will keep playing it is the online multi-player mode. You can wage war online with up to forty players across some of the largest maps I have ever encountered in an online FPS. The modes are all pretty standard fare with the exception of conversion in which being fragged by a Chimera turns you into one, but even that is relatively similar to games like Infection from Perfect Dark Zero. What is exceptional though is the fact that you can play with up to forty players online with little to no lag. You can choose to play as either a human or Chimera, which will change your strategy significantly as each race has it’s own advantages and downsides.
Unfortunately not all is grand in the land of Resistance multi-player as the game has a few quirks that hold it back. For starters I may be spoiled, but why do I have to have a separate Friends lists for this particular game. Having to manage a friends list is one of the reasons I don’t mind paying extra for Xbox Live, but then again it is early so I am still hoping Sony can fix this before it gets out of hand. Second that chat function is almost useless as most PS3 gamers either don’t have a headset, or simply are not willing to go out and buy a brand new one just to chat in this game. This makes team games almost pointless as communication is completely severed. Even with these minor gripes though the online mode is fun and will certainly keep players entertained for a while, which is good seeing as how it may be the only option for quite some time.
Visually Resistance is gorgeous sporting some incredibly detailed character models and a simply amazing amount of detail and objects onscreen. However with all of these things going on sometimes it can be hard to appreciate just how good it looks and if you set it side by side with say Gears of War you are going to be left wondering where all the power of the PS3 is.
This of course can be attributed to the fact that the levels in Resistance are much larger in scale and there is a lot more going on at once as opposed to Gears, but it is still hard to swallow that when you just shelled out $600 on the latest and greatest technology. Of course the game will always look better on an HDTV, but Resistance suffers from the fact that most of it’s best visual nuances are only seen through the eyes of a higher end set, so those without may end up wondering who dipped their PS2 in that big black powerhouse.
While Resistance isn’t going to set the FPS world on fire it does have more than enough to make it a solid, stand-out title for the PS3 launch. While most systems cannot claim to have a true killer-app at launch Sony has managed to deliver that, and honestly I can say I am not disappointed. The game will keep you playing for months to come with its massive online component and solid single-player experience. With the addition of online co-op and a more integrated and streamlined online mode this game could easily be the next big thing. Until then we will have to settle with one of the best launch games in recent memory, and to be honest is that such a bad thing?