I never played Resistance before this third iteration, mostly because I only recently joined the Toaster Ownership Fraternity , but largely due to it simply not standing out in the massive backlog of PS3 titles that I needed to catch up on. Obviously that was a mistake on my part, as Resistance offers a refreshingly different universe, unlike any other I’ve experienced before. But is it any good? Find out after the jump.

Just in case there are others like myself out there, who have no idea what Resistance is all about, here’s a short summary. The game takes place in an alternate history of our own world, where at the end of World War I in 1908 the Tunguska event takes place in Siberia. In this alternate reality Hitler never rises and World War II and the Great Depression never happens. It later becomes apparent that the Tunguska event was actually an alien invasion, which goes unnoticed outside of Russia and Eastern Europe due to their building a wall known as the Red Curtain on their borders.

Long and short of it is that by 1950 the Red Curtain is breached and the rest of the world is under attack from an alien race known as the Chimera. The Chimera are highly advanced creatures, and it becomes apparent that they have been on Earth before, as they excavate massive towers from deep underground, which they use to alter the weather conditions on earth. It would appear that the Chimera are preparing Earth for their brethren or masters, by freezing over the entire planet using these weather towers and generating a wormhole over New York city. Although there are pure Chimera, their existence is virus-like, in that they convert humans to Chimera by means of infection, which leads one to think they are simply slaves to a greater power, yet to make an appearance.

The protagonist of Resistance 3, Joseph Capelli is in fact different from the first two games, and is actually responsible for killing Nathan Hale, the previous hero. Without giving too much away, Nathan Hale was made into a super soldier by Dr Malikov during the previous Resistance installments due to his natural resistance to the Chimera virus. Unfortunately the virus eventually gets the better of him, and by the end of the second game Joseph is required to kill him, before he transforms completely. Joseph is inexplicably dishonourably discharged for his actions towards Hale and largely shunned by the remaining survivors for his actions, due to their lack of understanding.

And that is more or less where Resistance 3 kicks off. Sadly the game doesn’t really allude to much of the above in its brief summary of the previous games, and I gained most of the above information from studying various Wiki pages after finishing the first chapter and not quite understanding what’s going on. If anything the game itself didn’t motivate me to play any further, but rather the Wiki pages inspired me to delve deeper into the story, so I highly recommend that new players to the franchise and even old hands have a read through those to catch up with the storyline or brush up on what might have been forgotten.

You start off in an underground sanctuary with your wife and son at your side, the latter who is very sick presumably due to malnutrition and terrible living conditions. Of course you go through the usual tutorial first, teaching you the controls and basic weapon operations. The weapons are very cool, each offering a secondary fire option which is to be used in combination with the primary fire on many of the weapons. The default Bullseye weapon for instance has normal assault rifle fire as a primary, but then uses an auto-lock on system on the secondary fire which you toggle and then use with the primary in turn. The .44 Magnum is another beast all together being a 6-round handgun by default, but offering explosive slugs as a secondary option, which grow more powerful the longer they are left in the target, before being detonated with the R1 primary fire button.

The weapons in the game are all fundamentally different, and due to ammo being at a premium throughout the game world you are forced to get to know each and every one quite intimately. Each weapon also has three levels that are unlocked as you use them, and each level adds new and more powerful abilities. The shotgun unlocks incendiary ammo as you level it up, which leaves your enemies running around in balls of fire. It makes for varied and entertaining gunplay, and without giving too much away some of the results are hilarious to watch, in a very sadistic way of course.

I was slightly let down by the sniper sections in the game, because they aren’t quite as stealthy as you expect them to be. Even under the cover of darkness, you can’t actually sneak up and get a kill shot in without anyone noticing. It’s more a case of aiming and firing first, before they get a chance to lock onto you. Other snipers are also a dead giveaway, with very obvious laser sight lines bouncing all over your screen, so you don’t need to even put much effort into tracking them down. I feel they could have put more effort into providing a more realistic sniping experience where you have to crawl around scoping for movement and catching your enemy unawares.

Initially I was unimpressed by the graphics, which I later realised was due to the very sombre and melancholy surroundings of the game world. They made it incredibly realistic in colour tone and as we all know, realistic often means boring. However as you progress past the first few sections of narrow corridors, and reach the outside where massive areas are so alive with deadness, the game really starts to shine. Particle effects are especially amazing when you start shooting at enemies and they explode spectacularly and the sheer amount of movement on screen at times is very impressive. Not once did I find the game stuttering or struggling to maintain its framerate, but that being said the graphics should be appreciated from afar as close-up textures can be quite nasty.

Those planning to play this one cooperatively in splitscreen will be quite shocked at just how terrible the graphics are in this mode. I actually thought I was back on ye olde PS2 for a few short moments. Like many modern games, it also prioritises aspect ratio over screen real estate, the result of which is a little cube in the middle, and black bars on the sides of your big widescreen TV. I would have much preferred a vertical split and a slightly odd aspect ratio, over so little screen to play on, and I wish more developers would realise this. Give us options, don’t force us into what you think is better for us. Everyone has different TVs, with different needs. Bizarrely I noticed that when playing in splitscreen the game simply cuts out certain in-game story sequences, leaving you wondering what the hell is going on, which could be a major problem for someone specifically wanting to play this cooperatively. I couldn’t confirm if this also happens when using PSN connectivity to play together online, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

The in-game music really sets the tone, and is a major part of reminding you that you are stuck in the 1950s being invaded by an advanced alien race with some sci-fi technology thrown in for good measure, and not the typical post-nuclear situation that you might expect to be in. It’s difficult to make a call on what exactly the game world is like, but the closest match I can think of is the Ravenholm section of Half-Life 2. There are elements of Dead Space at times, not so much in scare factor but more so in design, and towards the end you get a sense of Halo.

Unlike your typical FPS shooter you never quite feel like the hero in this tale, which sets an entirely different tone to the usual macho man drama. Not long into the game you have to leave your wife and son behind, while you travel with Dr Malikov (who apparently killed himself in Resistance 2…confusing plot hole much?) who has a new plan to end the reign of the Chimera once and for all. Unlike Master Chief, you don’t just run into every mission guns blazing, expecting to kick ass and tell tall tales when you reach the other end. Instead you genuinely feel like the underdog, and expect the game to smack you in the face with a shocker that amounts to you dying or the world ending, around almost every corner.

There is one giant white elephant in the room though. The first and last acts of the game are perfectly in tune with one another having the same tone and environmental setting, but the bit in the middle is completely different and feels like another game all together, with all together different scenery and enemies. I can’t help but feel this was added after the fact, to provide some filler and lengthen the campaign in the process — it just seems way too obvious and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. It’s not that it plays badly, but rather the way in which you get popped into and out of this scene. Beforehand you don’t see it coming, and after the fact it’s as if it never happened. It also has no bearing on the game later down the line, and in contrast you hook back up with characters from before making it feel even more like a section that was simply popped in later.

Having received the game before official release, there was nobody to play multiplayer with at the time, but since I was a little slow in completing this review, I managed to get a couple of matches in post release. There is nothing exceptionally out of the ordinary to report, it ticks all the usual boxes for FPS titles and adds a little flair with offensive/defensive abilities that you can activate during combat, as well as specials based on kill streaks. It performed as expected for the few short games I played, with no noticeable lag or any specific issues. If anything, the biggest concern for multiplayer fans would be the massive updates at 650Mb each of which two have already been pumped out within the first week of release.

Overall I really enjoyed Resistance 3, and I wish I had invested in the franchise before. The game plays very well, and is in fact the first FPS that I’ve felt genuinely comfortable with using the PS3 controller, possibly due to the controls working that well or perhaps I’m getting used to the controller. Resistance 3 offers an excellent milieu with a brilliant plot across the span of three games, only slightly let down by in-game storytelling in this installment. It is a reasonably long campaign, offering decent replay value by means of trophies and further extended by the elaborate multiplayer features.

Score: 7.5 out of 10 prawns

Details:

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Distributor: Ster Kinekor Entertainment

RRP: R599 (PS3)

Release Date: 7 September 2011