The Resistance franchise may have had some high and low points but Resistance 3 is a perfect way for the series to go out. Featuring a robust single-player campaign that has amazing variety and a terrific weapons upgrade system, Insomniac Games has fixed all the wrongs they committed in Resistance 2 and then added a ton of Resistance 1 nostalgia in for good measure. Resistance 3 is a simply gritty and surprisingly emotional action experience that doesn’t fall victim to being incredibly shallow like so many other games today. Thankfully the multiplayer experience isn’t a mess and instead offers some old-school style fun that does indeed have a level of strategy and skill to it. Gamers may have been intensely burned by Resistance 2, but Resistance 3 is honestly a step in the right direction as it matches and slightly exceeds what we received five years ago with the first Resistance.
+ The mood created in the game through the visuals and scenarios is superb.
+ Upgrading specific weapons is fun and allows the game to have a tailored experience.
+ Level pacing is right on the mark since nothing ever drags.
+ Boss battles are still a bit predictable but are more intense and generally look better.
+ Graphically the game really shines when it comes to the art design.
+ Multiplayer totally rocks as of now and is filled with action while not being too chaotic.
- A few action segments are too scripted.
- The multiplayer mode is balanced but there are a few kill streak bonuses that could throw things off.
- Not having some lingering plot points resolved is disappointing considering what transpires at the end.
- Graphical quality is a bit hit and miss in some areas.
Developing and ultimately releasing a worthy sequel can often be a tough thing to do, even for the most adept developers out there such as Hideo Kojima or Peter Molyneux. Having an established formula that works is good and all but the somewhat difficult task of deciding how much to change and what to keep the same often rears its ugly head when a studio is deciding what should be included in their next potential blockbuster video game. Unlike other key PlayStation franchises, the Resistance franchise has had an interesting evolution since it was one of the first games to kick off the PS3 generation when the console launched in November 2006. A bit of a departure for developer Insomniac Games, Resistance proved to be a worthy launch title that managed to buck the trend of most launch software being barely passable. Two years later the Resistance franchise suffered a near fatal blow when Resistance 2 was released, a game which to this day still has gamers scorned and bitter due to how disappointing it was. But now things have worked out for the best as Insomniac Games has gone back to basics with Resistance 3, which I’m proud to say is the game gamers have been patiently waiting for since 2006.
Resistance 3 is mostly brilliant since Insomniac decided to stick with the basics and not over-do things just for the sake of it, perhaps to stay evenly matched in the crowded FPS market. Whereas Resistance 2 definitely had an understandable plot and hype considering what transpired at the end of the first game, the game was all over the place with the levels feeling a bit disconnected not to mention a bit ugly to look at in some areas. It would’ve been nice to see Insomniac perhaps end the Resistance franchise in a blaze of glory with epic battles involving armies and things of that nature, but what’s presented in Resistance 3 essentially matches the first Resistance: it’s a dark and grim experience that’s ultimately nail biting since there’s a constant feeling of dread throughout.
Picking up shortly after the events of Resistance 2, Insomniac has done an admirable job of introducing a new protagonist and not totally ignoring the mega cliffhanger events of the last game. Nathan Hale’s death (SPOILERS AM I RIGHT?) is indeed mentioned throughout Resistance 3 and so is the rather strange event of Earth’s sky suddenly being replaced with a completely alien one, which is one of the lingering questions that is indeed answered during the course of Resistance 3. New leading man Joseph Capelli is essentially rebooted compared to when we last saw him in Resistance 2, he even has a new voice actor (Robin Atkin Downes), and he isn’t a real instant tough-guy badass which is nice considering that’s a cliché trend in games today. The heart of Joe as a character and the tale of Resistance 3 is all about trying to survive and protect those that they love. Whereas the previous two Resistance games had simple one dimensional characters to carry the action along, Insomniac actually builds some character in Joe and the supporting cast which this time out is very deep. Joe may still be a man of few words but I was able to build a connection with him or through other characters like a gun toting minister or even simple NPCs talking about their families, some of whom may have perished during the Chimera invasion.
The lead-up to Joe’s mission to stop the Chimera from terraforming Earth is paced rather well as far as where the dramatic beats are placed and how secondary lore is doled out through journal entries. Just like previous Resistance games a lot of the over-arching story isn’t told directly to the player but instead through collectible items that need to be picked up throughout the various levels. Despite playing the third installment of the series, it still doesn’t quite sit well with me how Insomniac never pushed the Resistance lore more. Gamers who have been following the Resistance series since day 1 will appreciate Resistance 3 as it’s the first proper story to appear in a Resistance game, on the consoles at least, and how it somewhat mirrors the first Resistance but at the same time it’s disappointing to see lore such as the Cloven or the true origins of the Chimera remain nothing more than a mere mention in a short document. Doling out story exposition isn’t required all the time and I do like having a good mystery or two hanging around, but based on what happens towards the end of Resistance 3 this could very well be the last Resistance game we receive – or at least serve as a fitting end to the franchise. So with that being said I’m slightly bummed out certain long standing story aspects weren’t expanded upon more merely to serve as a reward to the loyal fans.
The story is front and center in Resistance 3.
I know it’s rare to happen these days but I was really surprised and happy with the story of Resistance 3 despite what minor loose-ends may not have been tired up. FPS games these days are almost notorious for their one-note stories which often come across as an action movie written by an eight year-old i.e. lots of stuff goes boom but there’s real drama and a constant feeling of dread in Resistance 3 that perfectly fits the “shit has officially hit the fan” scenario that’s depicted in the game.
Insomniac brought the goods with the narrative they composed for Resistance 3 and thankfully I didn’t go into jaded gamer mode since the game is also fun to play. I’ve somewhat voiced my views on Resistance 2 on Shogun Gamer in the past but to put it lightly I wasn’t a big fan of the game, even as a PlayStation enthusiast and a fan of Insomniac’s work. Resistance 2 started off strong with some good setpieces and technology (I was a fan of the jello water), but it dropped off considerably with levels that felt too similar to one another and failed to really hit the mark, more so in the boss battles which felt too one-dimensional or were simply a pain in the ass (I’m still angry at the Swarm encounter). Now with the weapon wheel making a mighty return, Resistance 3 was a cool throw-back to the days of FPS games that kept things simple but still had the design know-how as to make everything wholly entertaining.
Blasting Chimera soldiers with a basic weapon like the Bullseye or Carbine was fun and didn’t feel too similar to the previous two games mostly because all the weapons are upgradeable. Instead of gaining currency and then debating which weapon will receive a +5% boost in accuracy, Resistance 3 features an instant upgrade system that’s a bit arcade but is terrifically implemented. Simply by using a weapon consistently and getting kills with it I was able to upgrade a weapon up to two times with each iteration boasting additional fire power or abilities. Seeing a gun suddenly evolve and hit the Level 3 mark while I’m engaged in a gritty and intense firefight may sound like it would present a creative conflict of sorts, but I just found it cool and it does work in favor of the game. The Resistance franchise has always been known for its extensive weapons roster but this time gamers can tailor the experience they wish to have based on what weapons they used. Since I’m the type of gamer that likes to pull the trigger and enter party mode I opted to upgrade the Bullseye first and then the Marksman but other gamers out there can opt to use the Auger or even the Rossmore shotgun as their primary upgradeable weapons, thus they’re likely have a different gameplay experience. There’s no limit as to how many weapons you can upgrade but during my first playthrough with the game I was able to evolve five weapons to their max Level 3 forms. Perhaps with a bit of experimenting I would’ve been able to upgrade a few more weapons but either way I had a fun time and the weapon upgrade system is one of the best additions Insomniac made with Resistance 3.
Due to being a core PlayStation franchise, Resistance 3 is the latest game to jump aboard the PlayStation Move bandwagon and the results are ok if not typical given what’s come before it. Just like Killzone 3, Resistance 3 allows gamers to utilize both a PlayStation Move and NavCon or go for the double whammy and use the PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter peripheral. The Move controls in Resistance 3 required me to do a bit of fine tuning as far as the sensitivity and deadzone was concerned but overall the game did perform rather well when going the motion control route. Unlike Killzone 3 there isn’t an immediate lock-on feature in Resistance 3 so I had to make sure I was right on the money when it came to nailing a Chimera and couldn’t go into combat half-heartedly or relying on an assist to aid me. There was still a bit of a disconnect for me present when using the PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter since it does take a while to get used to wielding a plastic gun and figuring out how to do things like lobbing a grenade or using secondary fire all while not accidently looking up at the sky and immediately being blown up.
Sometimes I may come across as a complete gaming snob given my status as a “journalist/blogger” but I just like to hold games to a certain level given the pedigree of the franchise and/or developer. Insomniac never really did anything too out of the ordinary with the previous Resistance games from a design standpoint and they certainly haven’t done so with Resistance 3. But one thing that is Resistance 3 does surprisingly well is that it provides true variety for better or worse since some moments shine better than others. With the tale of Resistance 3 following Joe Capelli as he travels from Oklahoma to New York, the game never stays in one prime location for too long so there’s a ton of variety in the locales that are visited. Things start off slow with a rural setting but ultimately I found myself battling in a train yard, roaming around an abandoned office building and fighting for my life in a prison of all places before finally stepping foot in New York. The thing about all these stages is that each one boasts a unique vibe and gameplay emphasis. While Resistance 3 is never a chipper popcorn action experience, I was really taken aback by how some of the scenarios or setpieces really establish just how dire things are and how they may not get better. Stuff like standing strong in a pub with some allies may not sound too exciting for a FPS game but having to fend off waves of Chimera soldiers from breaking in really does have a level of intensity to it since the A.I. is commendable and the action isn’t light since the Chimera roll heavy with ten or more soldiers attacking at once.
A battle on the streets of St. Louis.
The action in Resistance 3 may be constant to a degree but Insomniac really does present some interesting action scenarios like those that feature a particular weapon such as the Atomizer or that takes place onboard a moving train. Yes, there’s a train sequence in Resistance 3 and while not as amazing as the one featured in Uncharted 2 it does feature one of the most striking sequences to appear in the game from a visual perspective as it gave me the feeling of looking at a piece of concept art come to life. Like anything though, there are a few things that sadly don’t work in favor of the variety found in Resistance 3 since a few things made me think that Insomniac really hasn’t bothered to evolve in the last five years. Whereas certain action scenarios really hit the mark and feature impressive visuals, there are moments in the game in which everything feels too scripted or is just implemented poorly. There were a few moments in which I almost found myself throwing my controller down in disgust since there are escort missions in Resistance 3, one of which has the gamer playing the role of the would be victim while an NPC protects you. The reversal of roles is a nice moment but my play session was plagued with a lingering enemy that was following throughout – all while my ally totally ignored the Chimera standing a mere five feet behind him. I won’t harp too much on the escort missions in the game since they were relatively easy to complete but in a way they just put the game in a lull period in which I wanted things to end as fast as possible instead of enjoying the moment at hand.
Since I opted to make the bold claim of saying a moment of Resistance 3 was like seeing a piece of art come to life, I will go on record by saying that the game does look good graphically. Having played the game and gone through hell as Joe, the dude seriously needs a hug and a vacation based on what happens, I’m still a bit conflicted as to my overall feelings on the graphics and art execution. I know that as a critic I should be a bit more steadfast in my views of the game but there are some moments in which Resistance 3 doesn’t look terrific but other times it looks wonderful. First thing off I need to say that Insomniac has indeed made a leap in the graphics of Resistance 3 compared to the dour and flat presentation that proved to be an eyesore in Resistance 2. Character models have gotten a nice boost in detail as the Chimera look meaty and feature some impressive texture and lighting work and the effects work across the board is good, in particular the Atomizer which leaves a very satisfy particle/ash effect upon using it on the Chimera. The only real issue of contention I had with Resistance 3 is that the character models, at least those of the humans, suffer from mannequin syndrome since they look nice but their facial movements rarely match anything that’s being expressed by them.
The only other visual downside is that some of the environments in the game look a bit low-res, and that’s not me being a graphics whore once again. With the bulk of the game taking place in human territory that is all but demolished and devoid of the happiness that was once there, the game does have a grungy look but a lot of things didn’t look sharp visually and instead seemed a bit blurry in a few cases. Even the few rare moments of a prison or underground cave not terribly looking awe-inspiring weren’t enough to bring down the overall Resistance 3 experience for me since the constant flow of variety, well-paced levels and key “look at this awesome moment” sections proved to make the single-player campaign the best since the first Resistance, even if there isn’t a godly snowing section.
I’ll be upfront about two things: I spent way too much time playing Resistance 1 online and I hardly played a moment of the competitive multiplayer featured in Resistance 2. Serving as my first foray into online gaming on the PS3, Resistance was a very straight forward FPS experience but something about the game just clicked with me which is why I went on to spend roughly around 80-100 hours playing the multiplayer modes online and carving an ok Kill/Death ratio for myself. Resistance 2 on the other hand was perhaps one of the biggest WTF moments I’ve had playing a game to the point where I felt like I was being trolled. Upping the ante in the competitive multiplayer modes to sixty players sounded good, but the increase in player and map size only resulted in something that I found was cumbersome and hard to formulate a strategy of any sort. The competitive multiplayer modes of Resistance 3 have gone back to basics and are fun – at least as of the time this review was published. Scaling back the battles to include only sixteen players, playing a game of Team Deathmatch or Breach (destroy a point while one team protects it) offers the same amount of fun I had playing Resistance 1; which should be good news for veterans fans of the series and gamers looking to pick up a solid multiplayer game. With many of the maps having a smaller scale and almost intimate structure, I found that it was always easy to join up with a teammate and make a decent battle strategy against the enemy – even if the end result was all of us being shot with an Auger or falling victim to an energy shield.
There isn’t anything too radical about how to play Resistance 3 online since the game has forgone immediate perks or mass customizable weapon loadouts. There are several main weapon loadouts gamers can choose from ranging from an assault class to a sniper along with secondary skills that can be activated like dropping an ammo supply unit for your team or doing a Total Recall and having a hologram of yourself appear alongside you to throw the enemy off. The special attributes aren’t a real game breaker since they’re more tactical tools that can be utilized and not immediately exploited since they need to be recharged after using.
The only minor issue I have with Resistance 3’s multiplayer lies in how it rewards gamers on kill streaks with special abilities (going cloak) or with powerful weapons such as the Auger. Maybe I’m just going too old-school for my own good, but having weapons like the Auguer be a kill streak reward can somewhat unbalance the game, or at least that’s what I’ve seen in a few matches I’ve encountered so far. Given how hectic some of the multiplayer matches tend to be, it may be difficult to get a six kill streak to unlock an Auger but at the same time it does present an unfair disadvantage for a team or even gamers who may not be quite experienced with the game yet.
Insomniac has done a good job at balancing other aspects of the multiplayer modes such as how much damage the weapons deal and objective placement, but I think further down the road the kill streak bonuses could become an issue if they aren’t tweaked or new ones are added to help give gamers a boost. The last thing I’ll say about the Resistance 3’s multiplayer mode is that as of now the game runs smoothly with a minor hitch here and there. Given how loaded the servers are as of now things may subside in the coming weeks but hopping into a match was easy and the game doesn’t feel like it’s a moving picture book due to how stilted it is.
Our faith in Resistance 3 may have wavered due to what transpired with Resistance 2, but Insomniac Games has delivered a worthy successor to Resistance 1 which is a perfect way for the series to end if such a thing truly happens. With a strong emphasis on the story and building up a sense of dread through the emotions of characters and the mere sight of seeing a Chimera ravaged Earth, Resistance 3 isn’t yet another corridor shooter nor is it a lame amusement park ride due to how scripted everything is. There may be a few weak points here and there, but the solo campaign of Resistance 3 is bolstered by some incredible set piece battles and boss encounters that are actually fun to experience, even if their attack patterns may be a bit predictable. Not only is the solo campaign a joy to play but so are the multiplayer modes which require a fair bit of teamwork and aren’t saddled with performance issues or game breaking design choices. Resistance 3 may not be the best FPS game ever made but the passion and dedication Insomniac Games poured into the game is apparent and because of that it’s one of the must-play games on the PS3.
This review is based on a copy that was bought by the reviewer.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation 3
Release date: September 6th, 2011
Good review Ian, I remember over in Gamespot we were discussing the subpar boss battles & other problems, glad to hear they worked on them. I only played the first mission so far so I can't wait to play more based on your review.
Thought it was a great fun action game. But the campaign was too short, after in the graphics and cinematic (in the way that they skip parts of the journey all the time) so the game's feeling, story and characters never really got any close to me... and since that was what I wanted most, the game pretty much failed for me. :/ But oh well, it's still a great action experience!