Review: Resistance 2 (Sony PS3)

Review: Resistance 2 (PS3)
Developer: Insomniac Games
Publisher: SCEA
Genre: First Person Shooter (Sci-Fi)
Release Date: 11/04/2008


Resistance: Fall of Man was supposed to be Sony’s Halo for the Playstation 3 launch. In other words it was meant to capture people’s attention and sell systems. Or at least that’s what many choose to believe. In truth all the first Resistance proved capable of doing was providing an entertaining experience if you weren’t expecting the game to blow your mind. To put it bluntly (To get the pun out the way early), when compared to the Xbox 360 lineup of the time, and when weighed down Sony’s pricing and gamers expectations because of that pricing, Resistance was futile. Were you to have picked the game up after the launch period when there were other reasons to own a PS3, the urge to justify your purchase with the game would have disappeared; and in it’s place you would have found yourself a solid but not quite spectacular game. At the very least it is a game worthy of your attention. Which brings us to the sequel.

Story:

Resistance 2 continues the story begun in Fall of Man, the story of Nathan Hale. Hale is one of a contingent of US ARMY soldiers deployed to Britain to help liberate that nation from the mysterious “Chimera”, a virus (it is thought) which swept through Russia and quickly covered all of Europe, converting entire populations into alien like creatures who are very difficult to kill. Hale is infected by the virus but doesn’t succumb to it. Instead he gains much of their powers while remaining somewhat human. Because of this, of the thousands of Americans sent to aid the British Hale is the only survivor. Despite this by the end of the game Hale seemingly sacrifices his own life to destroy the main Chimeran stronghold, and Britain is liberated. All is not as it seems however, and Resistance 2 moves the story across the Atlantic to the shores of America.

Right after the events of Resistance, Hale is taken under guard to a secret American base on Iceland for debriefing. Only, things don’t go according to plan. Just as you arrive on Iceland the Chimera attack, and it’s once again up to you to save the day. You can’t stop the invasion but you can slow it down enough for an evacuation. From there time moves forward and you wind up in San Francisco, and that’s when things really hit the fan. The US is invaded by a fleet of airborne battleships each carrying waves of Chimera.

The story moves really quickly, sometimes in game and sometimes in cut scene, and it’s very easy to miss what is going on plot wise. Not that it really matters, with these games it’s a race to see how many enemies you can kill before they make you stop. I wish I could say I caught the entire thing, but when you’re being assaulted by a wave of enemies you don’t always care about what the mad Russian scientist is trying to say, savvy?

Graphics:
Where Fall of Man tended to look like some bizarro WW2 game, R2 exists in the world of Rock and Roll and Soda Jerks, so much of the landscapes look like the America of the 1950s. Or at least what that would look like if America had endured an alien invasion in the 1950s instead of just a British one. (No I will not make a joke here about Aliens and the British. No. NO!) And as the game has crossed the Atlantic there is more color, less gray. When you come out from inside your base in San Francisco you may just have to stop and look around for a while, it’s that good looking. The Chimera are still all one shade of gray of course, its how humans identify occupied territory (Gray Zone, Grey Territory etc). There is also a lot less running around in subterranean tunnels chasing after power conduits, so the variety of levels has increased tremendously.

The main character, Nathan Hale, starts the game looking somewhat hungry, and by the end of the game has seemingly changed into a person who is terminally ill, with hollow cheeks and a vacant look. The modeling on him and all secondary characters looks quite good. In fact there is not a single complaint that I can think of when it comes to the graphics in the game. It even warns you at the start of the game if you happen to be playing in standard def on a high def TV. That’s just attention to detail right there.

Sound:

Continuing the love fest I will say here that the intro theme is brilliant and I wish there was more to it. The voice acting is strong and fits the dialogue, and at no point did I roll my eyes because an actor decided to mail in a performance. The background music is excellent, not because it’s noticeable but in fact because it isn’t noticed. Often the only reason to notice audio is when it is poorly done, and that is just not the case here.

Gameplay/Controls:

The original game had a few unique twists on the FPS genre, like a recharging life bar which was split into 4 parts. If you sustained damage and were down to your last health bar you would only regain that last one until you found a health pack. Resistance 2 does away with that somewhat convoluted system and just decides to accept that other games, namely Gears of War, seem to have gotten it right when they made health a stamina thing, where you can get shot numerous times and then recover by getting out of the way for a few seconds. Thus Resistance 2 takes the same approach and gives you an infinite health bar so long as you can protect yourself from incoming fire when required. This one decision makes the game play far less frustrating. No more fighting and dying repeatedly while trying to kill all the required enemies on one small sliver of health.

Another thing the original did is to give most (if not all) of the weapons in the game a secondary firing mode. This isn’t exactly new but not many games use the feature, and fewer still make the secondary modes as useful as Resistance did. R2 takes this usefulness and continues the tradition. Many of the weapons return from the first game, and there have been some new ones added. In particular to my tastes was the addition of a Magnum pistol (hand cannon really) which fires bullets you can detonate after they hit your target. Throw in a mini-gun which includes an energy shield for protection and you are talking my kind of weaponry in this game.

While the single player campaign is certainly worth playing, it’s not where the real joy is to be found in the game. That would in fact be the multiplayer co-op option, which involves you and up to 7 other people playing together in an orgasm of blood and guts. Unlike Halo 3 the co-op is not directly related to the single player mode. Instead you and your magnificent seven friends will be doing battle with enemies in a number of levels that are related to the “Resistance Universe” if you like. Co-op actually changes the game play up a tiny bit by forcing you into 3 separate character classes, including Soldier, Medic and Special Forces. Each of these classes performs a couple of roles. Soldiers carry that lovely shielded minigun and a shot gun, and can pick up hand grenades. Medics carry a med gun of sorts, which can be fired at friendlies to heal them or enemies to drain health. Medics also carry the standard assault rifle, but if you’re using that, things have gone badly wrong. Lastly you have the Special Ops class, which is equipped with one of the two sniper rifles in the game along with a Chimeran assault rifle. They also act as the class which can supply your team with ammunition packs. So if you’re Spec Ops always remember to chuck some ammo anytime you even think of it, as you earn XP and gain your own ammunition by doing so. A well rounded grouping of all character types is required if you want to finish the level, as characters will constantly need health and ammunition, and the enemy will throw more cannon fodder at you than either the Medic or Spec Ops guys can manage on their own.

If you can’t find 7 other friends to party up with or you can’t find a clan worthy of your presence, don’t worry. There is always the option to play with “Randoms”. I shouldn’t have to tell you that if you choose to brave this wilderness, be prepared for anything. Of course, we’ve all been there, so I doubt I’m stunning you by saying this. I thought at one point I was playing with Ecco the Dolphin. The gentleman was holding his PS3 controller too close to his microphone, and it was clicking like Ecco had found an oil spill. This was of course on the more benign side of internet anonymity, but either way there is a mute feature, happily. The “Random” option can also produce great amounts of fun, and while voice chat is available it’s not exactly required. Just follow the on screen waypoints and kill anything that isn’t human.

Replayability:

The game offers three modes, each of which gives the gamer a different yet enjoyable experience, depending on what they seek. The single player campaign isn’t overly long but it isn’t 4 hours long either. Add in the varying levels of difficulty and you can have yourself a quality time even if you never plug your PS3 into the network.

The competitive multiplayer mode is your standard multiplayer FPS mode, offering a variety of gameplay types. I found that the most common was team deathmatch, which makes sense in a way. When you can have up to 60 people playing online against one another, well, I don’t think the life expectancy rate would be all that high in a free for all.

Lastly we have the Online Co-Op which I already described. Eight players go in; all eight come out, hopefully. There are approximately 8 levels to be played in Co-Op, but unfortunately many people may never have the patience to see them all. You see in order to gain access to some levels you must earn your way in by playing and completing early levels enough to unlock the latter ones. That means you will find yourself playing some of the more early levels quite a bit in the beginning, and while I enjoyed those levels a lot, I don’t know if I could say I enjoyed them so much that the latter levels weren’t required.

Online Co-Op also offers a system of upgrading your character, similar to Call of Duty 4 or the Battlefield games. Each kill you score, every ammo pack you deploy, every time you heal a friendly character, you earn XP which goes towards your character’s level. As you earn levels you unlock special abilities and outfits. These abilities can include taking less damage for a period of time, or your mere presence is enough to heal your teammates, etc. The abilities are only active for short periods of time, and are activated by you whenever you have scored enough points during the level to fill up your special meter.

Balance:

On normal mode the single player campaign can be a bit of a chore to play through at times, I won’t deny that. For the most part though the game is a steady progression from start to finish. Obviously this means that should you choose to play the game on a higher level of difficulty you can expect to get shot and killed repeatedly. Put it this way: Your skills must be this tall to play this game on higher difficulty levels.

In the deathmatch portion of the game, I found that sometimes the maps were simply just too big for the number of people playing, and that includes when there were 30 or more people playing. The games seemed to dissolve into roving firefights, and if you happened to respawn on a portion of the map where nothing was going on you could be lonely for a little while. I wound up figuring out that it was best to just follow the first group of guys you saw, as that would usually lead to some kind of action, even if it wasn’t the main event.

The only thing I can mention regarding balance in co-op is the lifespan of the boss characters you face at certain points in the levels. In order to make it an enjoyable experience Insomniac decided to make these enemies into bullet sinks. Unfortunately the enemies aren’t always as balanced as they should be, and a group of four or five will find it significantly harder to deal with one of these characters than a group of eight will. This is fine, but a group of eight will still take upwards of five minutes battling a single opponent. I’ve seen people drop from games because they didn’t think they were doing any damage to these boss characters.

Originality:

There were certainly moments in the game where I felt like I was playing Gears of War. It’s not just the health system they incorporated. There is a saw-like weapon which can be used like a Lancer. Some of the characters have that same “Gung-Ho” attitude. One could say that this isn’t unique to Gears but Epic seems to have taken manly-man to new levels so when you see it elsewhere it brings Gears to mind.

With all that said this isn’t a Gears clone, and it’s not a Halo clone. It’s a game that picks and chooses what it likes from other games in the genre and makes it into its own. No other (non-MMO) game that I know of offers the ability to gather 8 people together to go on missions.

In the single player campaign, I don’t think I can say that I’ve ever gone from fighting a walking skyscraper to mucking my way through bayou swamps before. I can say that now.

Addictiveness:

The crack-quotient in this game is clearly in the online co-op. As I’ve already sung its praises more than once in this review I won’t do so again, but suffice it to say, 8 players all working together to finish a mission is just a fantastic experience, one that I would willingly pay real money for more of in the form of Downloadable Content. And I don’t like paying money (real or otherwise) for anything.

Single player is fun but it’s not where you will find the nicotine. Still, the story is interesting (when you can catch it) and there is no better FPS to be found on the PS3, in my estimation.

Appeal:

There are quite a lot of things that would appeal to the average gamer here. The single player mode, while frustrating at times, is very much the game for action junkies. As I’ve seen it said elsewhere, if you ever wanted to know what it might be like to be in the middle of a Zerg rush, this would be the game to play, as you will have ample opportunities to enjoy that sensation.

The Co-op in my opinion alone is worth the price of admission, but single player and deathmatch contribute to a very appealing game. The only downside I can think of is the graphic nature of the game. As the title of the movie states, “There Will be Blood”. And gore. And heaps of bodies.

Miscellaneous:

I found that there tended to be the occasional problem connecting to the online games at first. Often I could get around this by doing a search for games until it found some, then quitting and going back to the quick find button. Presto, games found. I don’t know if that’s just me wanting access to the matches faster than the game can give them to me or what, but it’s a small price to pay either way.

I do like the fact that the vehicle missions from the first game have been ditched. No longer do I have to drive a jeep past multiple barricades or blindly find my way around Cheddar UK.

The Scores:

Story: Good
Graphics: Incredible
Sound: Classic
Gameplay: Amazing
Replayability: Amazing
Balance: Good
Originality: Incredible
Addictiveness: Classic
Appeal: Great
Miscellaneous: Classic

Final Score: Incredible Game

Short Attention Span Summary:

If you own a Playstation 3 this game deserves to be in your inventory. It’s a shame it was released during the tsunami of AAA titles being shipped this fall, as it’s getting lost in the shadow of other games. Game of the Year material.

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