Resistance: Fall of Man
Resistance: Fall of Man, developed by the veteran Insomniac team, is Sony’s flagship PlayStation 3 launch title. We’ve all seen the many great looking screenshots and trailers, but still the questions remain: is the final product really good as Sony has made us believe? And was it worth the wait we Europeans had to endure?
In short: yes. Resistance: Fall of Man is a great first-person shooter and the fact that it’s a launch title makes it an even more impressive feat from the boys and girls from Insomniac. Though it might not be the most innovating shooter, it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable FPS games on home consoles.
Resistance is situated in an alternative 1950s universe. In the heart of Russia, a deadly virus, named Chimera, appears that starts a mutation process on anyone who is subjected to it. The resulting Chimera race conquers the entire European mainland in a mere two months. Even Great Britain is quickly overrun. However, the Brits have developed a special weapon to be used against the Chimera and they are willing to exchange it to the Americans if they land on the British shores and free the country. The storyline in Resistance is both original and interesting and filled with mysterious plot twists, so it keeps you going.
You start out as the American lieutenant Nathan Hale, armed with machine gun (with a grenade launcher as secondary fire) and some frag grenades, but you’ll quickly gather other weapons, some human-made, some Chimeran.
There are a lot of different guns and most of them pack quite a punch. Some of the more exotic playthings are the Fareye sniper rifle (that has a bullet time feature for extra accuracy), the Hailstorm auto-firing cannon (that can also set up gun turrets) and the Dragon flamethrower. You also have several types of grenades, of which the fuel air grenade is by far the most spectacular (after a two second delay, it causes a massive inferno that scorches pretty much everything). The vast and powerful arsenal is something the game inherited from the Ratchet & Clank games. It’s a tad unfortunate though that the guns can’t be upgraded. In some levels, you can also use vehicles, such as a heavy tank or a jeep. Using a tank to blow stuff up or drive over unsuspecting Chimeran soldiers is especially satisfying.
The levels are a bit short, especially in the beginning of the game, but to make up for that, the game offers a lot of different locations, such as ruined cities, Chimeran mutation facilities, underground tunnel networks, research labs, heavily defended hills,…
The 30 levels in Resistance guarantee a pretty lengthy campaign that should take at least 15 hours to complete on normal difficulty. You can also play the campaign in cooperative mode, with a second player next to you. The game also has a great replay value, an Insomniac trademark. Finishing the campaign once unlocks several weapons that can be found in a second playthrough. If you complete the game on hard, you can prove your skills in the ‘superhuman’ difficulty setting. Furthermore, the game also has its own set of achievemements, only they’re called ‘skills’. Unlocking skills (for example: by blowing three Chimerans with one grenade, or by gunning down several enemies using a stationary turrert) earns you skill points, which in turn unlock concept art and several skins.
The game has excellent controls. The sticks respond perfectly and are very accurate. Pressing R2 brings up an intuitive weapons select menu (it also pauses the game), similar to the one used in the Ratchet & Clank series. Why change a winning team? The game is pretty forgiving on the normal setting, with lots of health serums lying around. Experienced players also shouldn’t have any problems on hard, but superhuman difficulty can be a real ball buster at times. Though you are often accompanied by a dozen or so fellow soldiers, they’re pretty useless and die really quickly. You also can’t issue them orders, so basically it’s just you against the Chimera.
It’s unfortunate there aren’t a lot of different Chimera. The ammount of Hybrids, the standard grunts, is too high, so it feels like you’re shooting the same enemies over and over again. Only in the later levels will you see the number of stronger enemies (Steelheads, Howlers, Grey Jacks,…) increase. The bosses and larger monsters are cool though, since they can take a lot of punishment and deal a lot of damage.
Resistance: Fall of Man is a real looker, especially in high definition (720p). The models are nicely detailed (though not as good looking as the ones in Gears of War, to name just one) and the levels have very atmospheric lighting. The explosions and other special effects are especially impressive. The maps contain a lot of moveable and destructible objects and enemies go down with ragdoll physics. It’s also cool to see most cover can be shot to bits, so you can’t stay in the same spot the entire time.
The framerate is rock steady, even during large-scale firefights. The days the PlayStation 2 struggled to keep up in FPS titles are clearly over. The game is supported by a good cast of voice actors. Especially the actrice that played captain Rachel Parker (and who does most of the narrative) has a wonderful voice. The music is your standard WWII military affair, but the gun effects are really cool, especially from the more powerful weapons. During large battles, the sound of incoming mortar shells, shooting soldiers and dying Chimerans really drags you into the game.
And I saved the best for last; Resistance has a substantial and very enjoyable multiplayer mode. The game has a wealth of modes (deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, conversion, team conversion, breach and meltdown) and supports up to 40 players online (which is a LOT).
Most modes are played as humans vs. Chimera. In conversion, you play one round as a human, and the next one as a Chimera. The difference between the two is noticeable: humans have a small radar that can detect nearby enemies, while Chimera can temporarily go into a special rage mode, which makes them a lot stronger. Team conversion is similar, but now the whole team changes race when the round ends. Destroying the other team’s reactor is the goal in breach mode. To do this, you first have to capture enemy nodes, which in turn earns you all kinds of defensive and offensive bonuses (turrets, new spawn points,…). Meltdown is similar, but this time you need to make the other team’s reactor overheat by capturing nodes. The more you capture, the quicker you’ll win. It’s remarkable (and even more so if you realize this is only a launch title) that the games are almost completely lag free, even when playing with 40 players on a huge map. Resistance also has a wealth of options to customize your game, has a buddy list, impressive clan support and -more importantly- a ranking and rewards system.
As you gain experience in multiplayer, you’ll reach a higher rank (there are 60 of those) and unlock more skins. The game also features a matchmaking system, so you can play against gamers of the same skill level. Insomniac is also constantly working on improving the game and releasing new updates, which proves their dedication. In the coming months, we can also expect to see new maps, so the support for this game won’t die soon. With its myriad of options and wonderful gameplay, Resistance sets the bar for coming games that make use of the PSNetwork. Finally, Sony has a game that can go toe to toe with the best games on Xbox Live. It was about time…
Resistance: Fall of Man offers everything you can expect from a shooter and more. It has a compelling and lengthy singleplayer campaign, that can also be played in co-op, and -more importantly- offers the multiplayer mode PlayStation gamers have been craving for. Add great graphics to that and you’ve got a game that every PS3 owner should buy. Kudos to Insomniac for delivering yet another amazing title.