Resistance 2 (PS3)
At the launch of the PlayStation 3, there was only one must-have exclusive game for your arsenal -- Resistance: Fall of Man. An interesting new hero, Insomniac's quality graphics and 40-player multiplayer -- Resistance was a huge achievement for any launch title. However, while the game was good, it was not phenomenal. With Resistance 2, Insomniac's fourth official PS3 release, the team's focus was on increasing scale -- larger levels, larger enemies and larger multiplayer. Resistance 2 is an intense experience with many polished facets -- but the formula is still not perfect.
The single-player experience begins immediately after Resistance: Fall of Man, with Sergeant Nathan Hale getting picked up outside of London by SRPA troops. Since Hale was the only survivor from the Chimera attacks on Europe, they head to Iceland to run tests on Hale, and put him with a team of Sentinels -- others who are also infected with the Chimera virus. As they land, Iceland is already under attack by Chimera soldiers and an enormous Goliath. While mainly a training level, it's obvious that the crap is hitting the fan and Hale is smack in the middle of it.
Two years later, Hale finds out that he has only 19 hours to live, and that the Chimera threat has touched down in the United States. Fall of Man lacked variety in its scenery, ranging from the typical next-gen browns to the drab alien levels. Resistance 2 counters this beautifully: as you motor through the single-player campaign you'll move from San Francisco; to a giant redwood forest in Orick, California; to Utah, Chicago and the swamps of Louisiana. All of these locales have fallen, populated with Chimeran enemies that vary in size and difficulty.
You have access to a comfortable amount of weaponry and ammunition. The Bullseye, which fires a homing shot that attracts bullets, is still my personal favorite ? allowing you to shoot around cover to wipe out a more difficult adversary. The Marksman rifle is a sniper's wet dream, unloading a quick burst of bullets to blast apart enemy skulls. Finally, the Splicer -- which you get much later in the game -- showers enemies with small saw blades, with a secondary function that allows you to use it like a chainsaw.
The second you run low on ammo, you'll find more. And when you first find a certain weapon, such as a sniper rifle or a rocket launcher, you're immediately tipped off that something wicked is close by, and instructed on how to tackle the situation. It feels sometimes like you're being coddled a little too much.
That's not always a bad thing, because even on "Normal" difficulty, Resistance 2 is tough. Even when artificial intelligence Sentinel soldiers are fighting alongside you, tougher enemies will immediately be attracted to you and you alone, and focus their firepower on killing you first. It's like Hale has a "Free Beer if I'm Dead" sign on his head, and the flood of 20 Grims tearing at you are really thirsty. Then there are the new one-hit-death Chameleons. These semi-invisible hulking bastards can be heard trotting towards you, and if you don't get a proper shot off in time, you'll be visiting the last checkpoint -- over and over again. Between this and some frustrating chokepoints, I almost pitched my controller through the TV a number of times.
Again, though, you'll quite often know when you're about to enter some thick action: You pick up a new weapon type, see the Resistance save marker appear on-screen, and enemies flow in. Rinse, repeat. What kept me pedaling through the game was to see what Insomniac would throw at me next. Even after a Chameleon or three had caught me off guard, I wanted to see the next incredibly detailed environment filled to the brim with battles, and the next massive boss.
One detraction from the storytelling is the switch from the Fall of Man-style narration to in-game cinematics. These ripped me out of the gameplay and forced to watch a movie instead of being a part of it. I also didn't understand some of the decisions Hale was making. Fall of Man made me want to know more about Hale, but Resistance 2 gives me even more to question.
What really sets Resistance 2 apart is the eight-player cooperative play. The cooperative campaign is separate from single-player, and could be described as a mixture of first-person shooter with a fast-paced World of Warcraft raid. You select one of three player classes -- Soldier, Medic or Spec-Ops -- all of which rely heavily upon each other. Due to increased enemy difficulty, there's no way to Rambo your way through a level by yourself. Soldiers need the Spec-Ops to give them ammunition; the Spec-Ops need to shield themselves behind the Soldier's energy shield; and the Medics keep everyone alive. As you play, you earn experience points; level up; and gain new weapon types, armor and Berserks -- special abilities for each class. Initial Berserks allow Soldiers to take less damage, Spec-Ops to dole out more powerful ammunition, and Medics to radiate a Ring of Life that heals nearby teammates. Amazingly, even though the servers have only been online for a few days, the community has quickly learned how to play this mode properly, and knows the ins and outs of each level.
Besides Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Core Control (Capture the Flag), the Skirmish mode can hold up to a whopping 60 players. In Skirmish, you are broken up into a five-player squad and must accomplish objectives such as forming up on your squad, capturing beacons (waypoints), and wiping out a specific target. Impressively, with everything that's happening on-screen in co-op or competitive multiplayer, nothing slows down. With all those players and AI characters unloading buckets of ammunition on each other, there's a lot of crap flying across the screen.
Multiplayer elements are tracked via the MyResistance.Net Web site. While this very Web 2.0 site has promise, with statistics tracking and community elements, a lot of the tracking functionality isn't working properly yet. I hope the team cleans this stuff up quickly.
The Collector's Edition of Resistance 2 comes with a Chimera action figure, a decent art book, an exclusive Wraith multiplayer skin code and a bonus behind-the-scenes Blu-ray disc. Though the most compelling piece should be the Blu-ray, in comparison to what I've seen from other teams as of late, this seems to have been thrown together at the last minute. The best of the Blu-ray content is the multiplayer instruction breakdowns, essential videos that should be on the Web site. But I want to see Insomniac; I want to know more about the struggles they faced when making this project; I want to get a deeper dive on the tech behind the project; and I want to hear from more of the staff. For gamers dropping 80 clams on a game, this almost feels mailed in.
Insomiac's goal was to increase the scale of the Resistance world, and it's done so in spades. I wasn't fully impressed with the single-player experience, but the multiplayer modes -- mainly co-op -- more than make up for it. When Insomniac rejoins for the inevitable Resistance 3, they should really polish the single-player portion, or scrap it altogether. Hale deserves better -- but as long as players can have fun together, this is a worthwhile addition to any PS3 collection.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.