Resistance 3 Review (PS3)

Nathan Hale, the saviour of mankind and protagonist of Resistance 1 and 2, is dead and things are looking pretty grim for mankind. Dishonourably discharged from service, Joseph Capelli, has to step up and take the fight to the Chimera, before he loses everything.

I am a story-driven gamer at heart and as such I’m of two minds on Resistance 3’s story. There is a decidedly human touch this time around and I love the subtle way these are introduced to the world Joe inhabits. Written journals are scattered judiciously throughout the various levels, providing the player with a means to delve further at their leisure. The creepy counter-part to these are audio logs that, akin to the audio tapes in Bioshock, add a sometimes terrifying sometimes sombre dimension to the narrative. When you combine these story-telling features with the dark and dismal post-apocalyptic landscape and the unnerving sounds of the Chimera, the world truly comes alive.

The central story, however, falls flat on its face. It’s not through a lack of trying: in-game cinematics link firefights and boss battles together, giving you a feeling of progression and pointing you towards your next encounter. While they certainly tell you what you’re trying to achieve, the why of it is generally lost. It’s just missing that something to bring everything together and it hangs around like a bad smell throughout. Yes, the Chimera are trying to open a wormhole to somewhere, but how does preventing this win us the war? And the finale, while it feels epic, is such a let-down in terms of story and a sense of victory (which you only get through a few radio broadcasts and images presented during the end-game credits). While this might just be the backdrop, it’s a shame, and the only point that prevents Resistance 3 from being a truly amazing game.

In terms of gameplay, Insomniac really kicked things up a notch: battles feel epic and there is a real sense of accomplishment when you finally take down one of the big bad Brawlers or Widowmakers. Other new Chimeran strains, such as the long legs (in both Bullseye and Deadeye varieties), add variety to the usual mix of Hybrids, and the zombie-like Grim give various levels a survival-horror aspect that encourage late-night gaming with the lights low and sound high. Just when you think you can’t handle another narrow corridor filled with potential Chimera eggs and Grim waves, there is a shift in enemies (at around the halfway point of the game) which offers a nice break and change of pace (and brought back memories of Borderlands!).

To take down all these nasties, Resistance 3 offers us some familiar weapons, like the Bullseye, in addition to some tasty new pieces – including my favourite, the Atomizer (aka Mr Zappy). The alternative fire options of the guns return, with enough ammunition scattered around that encourages them to be used, rather than saved for key moments. What I really applauded was the way in which, after you received the new gun, there was an encounter tailored to its use. In this way the game encourages you to experiment with the weapons and switch on the fly depending upon the situation, rather than sticking with your favourite (or highest levelled!) weapon. To assist in this, Resistance 3 ditches the dual gun system of the previous instalment in-favour of the ‘carry everything!’ approach of Resistance 1. The system works well and you will quite often find yourself blasting through the ammunition on a number of weapons during a long set-piece.

The other change to gameplay is player health. Regenerating health is gone, in favour of a more traditional health bar – again a ’la Resistance 1. Health is filled by green vials which are scattered around in a fairly limited number throughout the levels. This alters firefights in a significant way – no longer can you blast in, find some cover and regenerate – you have to pick and choose your targets in a far more strategic way, which makes some of the longer setpieces and Chimeran waves both entertaining and frustrating. But again, when you do get through there certainly is a sense of accomplishment here that I felt was missing from Resistance 2.

Resistance 3’s co-op campaign allows two player splitscreen of the main campaign, which is a great change from short and rather bland side campaign that was on offer in the predecessor. Enemy numbers and the difficulty increase in a subtle way that keep the players on their toes (though trying to get two players to run through small tunnels and dodge the attacks of Satan, a giant Chimeran-grub-thing, can be frustrating!). There is one hilarious aspect of co-op though, which comes through during the cutscenes and cinematics, and that is John-the-forgotten (otherwise known as Player 2). You see, John doesn’t get much attention. Joe has the family: the wife, the kid, the reason for fighting. He’s the one jumping off helicopters, off boats, off trains (there’s a theme there) while poor old John is nowhere to be seen. In all seriousness it’s a minor complaint, but it would have been nice for John to get a bit of the action, or just a mention. That said, Resistance 3’s co-op was the most enjoyable co-op gameplay I’ve experienced since Borderlands.

Online multiplayer, however, is something else entirely. At the moment it is an incredibly buggy and lag-filled mess that I could barely use. I’m not sure if it’s due to playing from Australia (I do not believe we have local servers) but I was unable to complete even a single map without timing out. It does look good in theory though: ranks gained through experience points with weapon unlocks and all the nice things we’ve come to expect from the online component of a shooter. Hopefully the issues are fixed in a future update, but with Battlefield 3 on the horizon it might be too little too late. But in the end Resistance 3 isn’t a game you’re going to buy for the multi-player.

Resistance 3 builds on the foundations of its two predecessors, bringing us more of what we know and love. The single player/co-op campaign runs at around 8-10 hours, which is about standard for a shooter these days. While it does not bring anything new to the FPS genre, it doesn’t have to: what it does it does superbly well. In a year that has already seen some amazing additions to the genre, with others to come, Resistance 3 will no doubt stand tall in the crowd.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

About the Author

I'm an archaeologist who games far too much! I was introduced to a Commodore 64 when I was a lad and have never looked back. Lover of retro gaming, supporting indie developers, RPGs and RTSs.