For too long, the Resistance series has lingered in the shadows of that other PS3 shooter behemoth, Killzone. Though always far above average, the first two Resistance games both missed that extra bit of salt and pepper to be recognized as truly remarkable games. With changes in protagonist, atmosphere and gameplay, Resistance 3 takes another shot at the FPS hall of fame.
Resistance 3 picks up some time after the events of the previous games. The hero of the previous titles, Nathan Hale, is dead and his loyal companion Joseph ‘Joe’ Capelli has settled down in a hidden underground society, together with his wife and baby boy. 90 percent of the world’s population is either dead or infected with the Chimera virus and the few remaining survivors have hunkered down in ragtag communities like Capelli’s. When the Russian scientist Malikov claims to have found a way to stop the Chimera once and for all, he and Joe embark on a journey across the US towards New York City, the nerve center of the Chimera invasion force.
The trip starts in a desolated hellhole in Oklahoma and takes you to the war-torn streets of St. Louis, a Chimera-infested Ravenholm-esque mountain village, an abandoned prison complex you’ll need to escape from and, finally, a snow-covered Big Apple. The thing all these locales have in common is a distinct dark and depressing atmosphere, a complete overhaul of the “clean” environments from the first two Resistance games. The change in scenery fits the increasingly bleak outlook of humanity’s future and Insomniac is to be commended for this excellent design choice. It takes guts to totally change the tone of your game, but the gamble has certainly paid off here.
The gameplay has also undergone some welcome changes. Insomniac took a page from the book of their other successful franchise, Ratchet & Clank, and implemented the expansive arsenal and addictive weapon levelling system from the former into Resistance 3. You can carry all 12 weapons at the same time and each one has its distinct advantages against certain enemy types. The improved Bullseye’s secondary tag function is excellent against the leaping Longlegs, while the Rossmore shotgun and brand-new Atomizer are excellent in close-quarters combat with Grims. Most guns (such as the Bullseye, Auger, Deadeye sniper, M5A2 carbine and HE magnum) will be familiar to series veterans, but the new toys like the Cryogun, the aforementioned Atomizer (whose secondary function fires a miniature black hole that can wipe out whole groups of Hybrids at once) and the Mutator (which infects Chimera and forces them to attack their allies) will certainly capture the hearts of many fans. Because you can’t carry a lot of ammo, you will be using all of your weapons at one point, which also helps keep the combat feel fresh throughout. Use a gun enough and it will upgrade to a more powerful version with extra functionality. For instance, when you level your shotgun, you gain the ability to shoot incendiary shells.
In a remarkable move, Insomniac has also gotten rid of the regenerating health bar we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in pretty much every shooter since Call of Duty 2. This makes the large set pieces battles feel so much more dynamic and exhilarating. Staying in one place for too long will get you killed (especially against Auger-wielding enemies) because you’ll run out of health vials in your vicinity. The Chimera are also very adept at going after you and flushing you down. You’ll have to constantly keep changing vantage points to win. It’s also immensely satisfying when you survive a large wave of all kinds of Chimera with barely a sliver of health left. I’m actually starting to wonder why developers have done away with health packs altogether.
The campaign can also be enjoyed cooperatively, be it locally in splitscreen or online. Even though the co-op mode is very enjoyable (as is to be expected), it’s not quite as thrilling as Resistance 2′s 8-player class-based co-op. The online multiplayer has also been scaled down, from a stunning 60 players to a much more pedestrian 16. This makes the online battles less chaotic, but also strips away what made the previous games unique. All the weapons from the campaign mode are available in MP, but you’ll need to unlock them by gaining experience and levelling up. You start out with either a Bullseye or M5A2. You can fully customize your character with a number of active and passive abilities to gain the edge over your opponents. The active ones can be divided in support (bubble shields, healing beacons,…) and tactical abilities (turrets, holograms,…).
Resistance 3 features a number of standard modes like DM, TDM and CTF, but Breach (where one team attacks and the other defends set objectives) and Chain Reaction (a Battlefield-style capture and hold mode where you have to deplete the other team’s tickets) are far more interesting. All in all, the online multiplayer is a lot of fun but does little to set itself apart from reigning online champ Call of Duty. The multiplayer and co-op modes also add some welcome longevity to the game, seeing how the campaign will only last you 8 to 10 hours. As a result, the ending of Resistance 3 (and possibly the series) feels somewhat rushed and unsatisfactory.
Still, those small bits of criticism only slightly detract from an otherwise stellar performance. Resistance 3 is very much the game its predecessor should have been. With thrilling combat, an exciting collection of weapons, a wonderfully dark atmosphere and a fleshed-out multiplayer component, Resistance 3 offers a lot of bang for your buck. Wholeheartedly recommended.