Review: Resistance: Fall of Man (Sony PS3)


Resistance: Fall of Man
Genre: First-Person Shooter.
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: 11/14/06

System launches, by and large, aren’t exactly the shining pinnacle of quality gaming and innovation in software. Sure, we’ve seen games like Project Gotham Racing 3, Condemned, Halo, and Soul Calibur over the more recent system launches, but the vast majority of console launches are pockmarked with crap that people are hoping will sell because it’s available at launch, and for no other reason. Finding the gems in the rough is a touch difficult, because when you have a brand new video game system, EVERYTHING looks good, and finding that one shining example of greatness isn’t easy.

Sometimes, though, it certainly SEEMS like it is, which is the case with Resistance: Fall of Man. Resistance is developed by Insomniac, makers of the multiple award winning franchise Ratchet and Clank. Promising a good and good looking gameplay experience, as well as 40 person online multiplayer, it certainly seems like it can make good on that promise. But it has big shoes to fill: not only does it have to be great, but it’s expected to be mind-blowing and phenomenal, to match up with the potential the system has to offer. Does it live up to the task? Let’s take a look.


1. STORY


The gist of Resistance’s story goes like this: sometime in the early 1940’s, hideous mutant monstrosities begin taking over various countries in Europe and Asia. Dubbed “Chimera”, the monsters are blamed at first on the Russian government, though it turns out things aren’t so simple. After the Chimera take over continental Europe and Asia, they launch an attack on England and essentially wipe it out in short order. It is at this point that the US decides to intervene, which is when the actual game begins.

The story is told from an interesting sort of dual perspective; you take on the role of one Nathan Hale as his life is recapped by one Captain Parker. She provides voiceover for the various cinematics in the game that take place in-between you actually playing as Hale through his adventures. It’s an odd sort of execution, but it works well enough. Hale has a major plot twist near the beginning of the game that puts a lot of the story into perspective as it occurs, and from then on, he is a sort of one-man army, terminating any and all Chimera as he goes.

The story is largely stereotypical and doesn’t really tread any ground we haven’t seen before; in essence, it’s Call of Duty meets Half Life, which works about as well as you’d expect. The concept is very interesting, and manages to carry a lot of the weight of being interesting and all on its back, but the execution really isn’t anything special. Still, you probably won’t notice; Resistance is more about destroying everything that moves and less about story exposition, and in that respect, the plot is serviceable enough to carry the game along.

Story Rating: 6/10


2. GRAPHICS


Resistance is a very visually solid and interesting game, though it’s not quite up to snuff from what’s expected from the next generation. Character models look good and animate nicely, though there’s still the odd glitching here and there during death animations, as seems to be a staple of the genre. The various “OMG DAT’S HOOGE IMMA DIE” monsters are animated especially well, and seeing them in action is quite effective at convincing you you’re royally screwed. Environments, while not as detailed as you might expect, look good, and Insomniac has managed to do something I can’t recall seeing, um, EVER in a game: glass breaks realistically. Smack a window, and only PART of the pane of glass falls out instead of the whole window getting destroyed. It’s a small touch, but it’s surprisingly awesome and shows a good attention to detail. On the other hand, for some reason, Resistance doesn’t support 1080i or the heavily vaunted 1080p; 720p is all you get, which seems a bit stupid, especially considering that the system is more than capable of handling it, obviously. Again, for a next-gen title, Resistance is a small bit underwhelming visually (compared to something like Gears of War it doesn’t hold up), but it still looks pretty good, and shows that there’s definitely some power to the PS3.

Graphics Rating: 8/10


3. SOUND

The music in Resistance is pretty solid for the most part; it picks up when needed during pitched battles, and matches the tone of the game perfectly. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for you by telling you that it tends to bend toward the dramatic… this is the sort of game that lends itself well to that sort of music. It’s not anything I’d want to own independent of the product itself, but it fits nicely and works well to lend ambience to the game.

The voice acting is pretty good, overall, as well. A good portion of your voicework is delivered by Captain Parker, and her voice actress does a fine job in the role. Nathan’s voice actor, though he’s given substantially less to say, does a really good job as well, and delivers his lines spot-on. The various random voices you hear from the meat… er, squadmates are largely well done and don’t repeat so as to be noticeable. The Chimera all sound appropriately monstrous and freaky, also. The various weapons in the game all sound as one would expect, which is both good and bad; good because there’s a distinct attention to detail in the various weapon effects, bad because weaponry like the Bullseye, with its futuristic effects, just doesn’t sound as menacing as a good old fashioned Carbine. Still, there’s a solid attention to detail throughout, and as an aural experience, Resistance holds it own well.

Sound Rating: 7/10


4. CONTROL/GAMEPLAY


I’ve said it before, and I’ll most likely say it again: if you’ve played an FPS in the past year or so, you’ll be able to slip into Resistance with little to no difficulty. Left stick moves, right stick aims, and the left and right triggers control primary and secondary fire. Running, jumping, tossing frag, and pistol-whipping foes are all included as part of the standard package, as one would expect. There’s nothing drastically different in the controls to differentiate Resistance from its contemporaries, which is either good or bad, depending on your perspective. The controls are very solid, though, so you should have absolutely no problems with them, even if you’re not an FPS fan.

Resistance does have a few novelties up its sleeve, though, and most of these come from the odd weaponry in the game. You will see various standard weapons, like carbines and shotguns, as you play, but most of the weapons are of the “ridiculous alien weaponry” variety that makes these sorts of games so loveable. Within the first hour of play, you bumble upon a weapon known as the Bullseye, a gun that allows you to stick a target to enemies, then shoot them from cover, as the bullets track them. Yeah. The guns only get more interesting from there, from the Auger (fires bullets that burrow THROUGH cover to blast enemies on the other side) to the FarEye (a sniper rifle that essentially slows down time when secondary is engaged, for the perfect headshot) to the Hedgehog grenade (when it explodes, it fires spikes everywhere), and that’s only from the first HALF of the game. Yeah. There are a lot of weapons, and the vast majority of them are not only awesome, but actually useful in combat. This helps keep the game going and keeps play fresh; you never know when you might wander upon some sort of insane gun or bomb or what have you.


The other major novelty is 40 person online deathmatch, which is really great, especially for console gamers (we’re not really used to that). There are several different types of online matchups one can take place in, including standard deathmatch and team deathmatch, Meltdown (King of the Hill, kind of), Breach (blow up the enemy base), Capture the Flag, and Conversion (Survivor/Last Man Standing). Resistance also seems to run nicely online; there was very little noticeable lag, even with a full 40 people running about, which is wonderful to see (though time will tell if this will be a problem when more people have access to the system). Full deathmatches can get really nuts, however, and it bears noting that in larger games, one might well find oneself dead two seconds after one re-spawns, both because of the crazy player count and the fact that one seems to die faster in Resistance than in equivalent FPS titles. Your preference may vary, but regardless, online play remains quite a bit of fun.

There are other things that help keep the play experience going, beyond the crazy weapons. Enemy AI is strong, and the enemies themselves are all sorts of freaky (though they do replicate several known archetypes from other FPS titles). The levels are very well designed, and support the idea of using cover to survive and such, which is certainly helpful. The weaponry management system is of the “I can carry everything I can find” variety, but the game balances this out by limiting your ammo count per weapon, so in many cases you’ll find yourself switching between weapons out of necessity rather than preference, though it is nice to have the right tool for the job, as it were, at all times. The health system is also pretty interesting, as it meshes the Doom/Half-Life school of thought with the Halo one: you have four bars of energy; if one depletes, it’s gone until you find a health pack, but if some energy is left in it, you can hide and wait for it to recharge. This, combined with the heavy damage output from many of the enemies, makes the game a bit more strategic, as death is more likely than in many other similar titles. Oh, and there is SOME Sixaxis support in the game; one can shake the controller back and forth to throw off certain grappling foes, and to put themselves out when on fire in multiplayer, as well as few other neat things. It’d have been better to see something like tilting the controller to lean around corners, but at least it’s a little something that shows a step in the right direction.


There are some flaws in the otherwise solid gameplay, however. Allied AI is, um, kind of stupid; I mean, I know they’re going to die regardless, but they rarely even put up much of a fight before they go, which is silly. The game also lacks any sort of online co-op, which one would think would’ve been a natural fit for the title, and that sucks mightily. Resistance also has a distinct “been there-done that” feel to it; if you’re a major fan of FPS titles, you’ll love it to death, but if not, you’ll most likely find yourself asking “haven’t I done this before?” more than a few times, crazy weapons or no. Levels also tend to be a bit linear, and don’t really seem to offer much in the way of exploration or discovery, which is kind of limited. Also, as the PS3 doesn’t offer a “set” multiplayer design, it seems as though most players don’t own or don’t care to own a headset; compared to online gaming on the 360, this was a bit of a letdown.

All told, though, Resistance is way more good than bad in regards to gameplay. The single player campaign is strong and a lot of fun, and multiplayer offers a whole lot of extra fun beyond that. It does have a slightly repetitious feel at times, and online co-op is sorely missed, but what is provided is a lot of fun, for the most part. And hey, the weaponry is absolutely great, and is worth the price of admission alone in this regard.

Control/Gameplay Rating: 8/10


5. REPLAYABILITY

The single player campaign offers multiple levels of difficulty to blast through, and the online multiplayer is fast and furious, and certainly enough to keep fans of the genre coming back for more, especially with the variety of gameplay modes available. There are also a bunch of unlockable extras, assuming you can earn up enough skill points to get them, which should keep you busy for a while. Also, after completing the game once, you can replay the game and discover new weapons to destroy things with. Online co-op would’ve helped the game dramatically, but the game stands well enough on its own merits to keep you coming back to it for a while. As a launch title, it gives you a solid reason to stay interested, which is really what it needs to do.

Replayability Rating: 7/10


6. BALANCE

Resistance is a solidly challenging game; the easiest difficulty setting will present a surprisingly decent challenge to casual gamers, while jacking the difficulty up will prove a strong challenge to even the best FPS players. The enemy AI is quite good, and the Chimera can take a sufficient amount of lumps before dropping, which all adds well to the challenge. Add to this the spacing between health pickups and the hefty damage you can take if you don’t play smart, and you’ve got the makings of some solid challenge. Co-op reduces the challenge somewhat, obviously, as you can revive your comrades should they fall, but there’s still some challenge to be had even so. Online is a different animal; small groups of players in deathmatches and such make for some solid challenge, provided you PAY ATTENTION and don’t play this like it’s Halo (you die REAL fast in multiplayer). 40 person games, however, are just crazy-go-nuts, and become less about skill and more about reflexes. There’s still some definite challenge to be had, especially in some of the game types, but the games can quickly degenerate into a free-for-all of insanity, which is less challenging and more, well, insane. Overall, Resistance offers a solidly challenging experience for gamers of all skill levels, both online and off, and should satiate your requirements nicely.

Balance Rating: 7/10


7. ORIGINALITY

The execution of Resistance is quite unique, for the most part, though one kind of gets the feeling sometimes that it’s essentially Call of Duty, with monsters. The various weapons in the game are conceptually unique in a lot of cases (the Bullseye, for instance, is something I can’t recall ever seeing in an FPS before), but the core gameplay never really does anything super different or special. Resistance feels an awful lot like Half-Life mixed with Call of Duty or Medal of Honor, and while that’s certainly not a BAD thing, it isn’t a terribly ORIGINAL thing. There’s enough originality to give the game a feel all its own, but not enough to not notice that it feels like you’ve done a lot of this all before.

Originality Rating: 5/10


8. ADDICTIVENESS

Resistance is pretty addictive, mostly due to the hectic combat and cool weaponry. The gameplay is, pound-for-pound, identical to a billion other FPS games before it, but the cool toys you get to play with and the heavy combat you find yourself in more than keep the game interesting for a good long while. Co-op is a lot more engaging and addictive, because it’s always great fun to kill things with a friend, and multiplayer is engaging in short bursts; otherwise it can become monotonous. You’ll definitely want to keep playing Resistance for a while, at least to see it through to the end, though you’ve seen so much of what it does before that it might not keep you coming back past that.

Addictiveness Rating: 6/10


9. APPEAL FACTOR

World War II (sort of) themed FPS, with monsters, released on the hottest new console on the market (more or less), a month and change before Christmas. It’s developed by the company responsible for Ratchet and Clank, quite possibly the best action/platformer franchise on the market, PERIOD. It’s been hyped out the hoo-hah, and it’s one of, if not THE, best exclusive titles the PS3 has to offer at this point.

Come on now. Do I REALLY need to spell it out for you? The only possible way you’re not interested in this is if A.) you hate FPS’s, B.) you hate FPS’s themed in the days of WWII, C.) you don’t want or own a PS3, or D.) you’re dead, and if you died in line for a PS3, you’re probably pissed you died without playing this. Okay?

Appeal Rating: 9/10


10. MISCELLANEOUS


I didn’t notice any sort of notable technical issues while playing, though loading times seemed a bit long. Of course, the levels are massive and take some time to complete, so that’s not really as big of a problem as you might think. All told, Resistance is pretty much the best title on the PS3 at this point, and as an FPS, it’s one of the best I’ve played all year. It’s a good, strong showpiece for what the PS3 is capable of, plays well, and is a good amount of fun. As a launch title, it delivers on the promises made, and I’m anticipating what Insomniac will be able to do with a sequel.

Miscellaneous Rating: 7/10

The Scores:
Story: 6/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 7/10
Control/Gameplay: 8/10
Replayability: 7/10
Balance: 7/10
Originality: 5/10
Addictiveness: 6/10
Appeal: 9/10
Miscellaneous: 7/10

Overall Score: 7.0/10
Final Score: 7.0 (GOOD).

Short Attention Span Summary
Resistance is ultimately a competent FPS that, while it plays well and does a lot of things right, doesn’t quite reach the greatness one would hope for. It doesn’t really scream PS3, but as a launch title, it’s pretty solid. If you’re the proud owner of a PS3, you should absolutely own it, but don’t expect a Halo or Half-Life 2 killer. If you’re not, though, it’s not quite worth owning the system for; it’s good, but not THAT good, sadly. Ultimately, Resistance is a good effort from Insomniac, and deserves a sequel. If you can, you should check it out.