The past year has seen something of mini renaissance for shooters on the PS3. Killzone 3 kicked off the year with a tightly paced action epic that offered a different flavor to a million and one modern warfare clones. Portal 2 (ok, yes, I know, I’m stretching my words a little here) saw great success on the black behemoth and hinted at a glorious future of Steam and console integration. Now, Resistance 3 has come along to kick off the winter gaming season with one of the most thrilling, and refreshingly depressing games you’re likely to play all year.
An intimate and touching take on survival in a post apocalyptic world, Resistance 3 strings together a succession of increasingly epic set pieces almost flawlessly, and as a result delivers quite possibly the best shooter on the PlayStation 3. If this is indeed the final title in the series, like Insomniac have been saying, then Resistance 3 was one hell of an an awesome way to bow out.
As you might expect, the aesthetic of Resistance 3 has much in common with other post apocalyptic games. The same brown skies and burnt out buildings are present, not so common however are the settings of the game, swapping war torn cities and nuclear wastelands for the prairies of the mid-west and forests of the north-east. It’s a welcome change from the norm, and combined with the increasingly depressing narrative, made Resistance 3 feel a bit like playing a video game version of Cormac McCarthy’s famously grim novel, The Road.
As such, Resistance 3 excels in creating an alternate Earth that believably feels like it just lost the war to end all wars. With the Chimera constantly at your back, rarely does the game let up the pace – you’re not fighting to win, only to survive. The sense of doom and gloom is reflected in the design via the use of cold, which to describe it in simplest terms, means that the game gets a whole lot more snowy as you progress through the story. By the time you reach the latter stages of Resistance 3, the sun has become but a memory, its warmth just a dream. I really can’t praise Insomniac enough for so neatly tying together the sometimes opposing forces of story and visuals into a cohesive whole.
Looks aside, the meat of Resistance 3 is in the combat, and Insomniac throws a lot of it at the player. Be it unending waves of enemies or one of the surprisingly frequent boss fights, the game rarely gives you a breather. On the whole Resistance 3 falls firmly in the middle of the difficulty spectrum, certainly not as hard as it could have been, but relentless and challenging nonetheless.
To aid you in battle, Insomniac have put together what has to go to down as the finest collection of weapons this console generation has seen. Starting with a magnum that fires exploding bullets and a machine gun that can lock onto enemies, before long you’ll be shooting through walls, causing enemies to throw up and mutate with something that is basically just a modified aerosol can, and smashing the shit out of everything you see with a trusty sledge hammer.
That’s not even beginning to get into the variety of grenades, or the immensely satisfying shotgun that sets fire to your enemies, or the games deadly accurate sniper rifle. Every weapon is upgradable as well, so the more you use them the better they get, and with so many foes to fight, there’s plenty of opportunity to work out which weapons you like best.
There’s a fair bit of lasting appeal to Resistance 3, something that sets it apart from its fellow console shooters. Though no new missions open up, nor are there any additions to the tale on subsequent playthroughs, nevertheless the title is worth more than a single fling. Difficulty levels that provide a decent variation in challenge, plenty of collectables and unlockable bonuses, and a small dose of easily attainable cheats change things up just enough to convince even the most cynical of players to dive right back into the story.
And then there is of course the multiplayer. While not my personal favorite aspect of the game, or, indeed, any game really (in real life I am a hermit and social pariah who only emerges once in a blue moon to buy more beer and hit up the local Gamestop), the online multiplayer component of Resistance 3 is a hell of a lot of fun, even for someone most definitely not a part of the targeted audience.
I know I already praised the weapon selection earlier in this review, but good god almighty does the multiplayer ever drive home just how awesome the load outs can be. I think one of the reasons I so often avoid multiplayer in the first place is that before long, 95% of players have already figured out the best tactics to the game, so what was once a carnival of madness devolves into a competition to see who can outdo the other in the same mindless task. The fact that Resistance 3 can make you feel as equally deadly wielding a pistol as you would by wielding a combustible shotgun is delightful, and that there is so much customization available (well, a fair bit at least) makes continued play a rewarding experience. Once I’m done with this review I’ll probably hop right back into the multiplayer, which is something I can rarely say about most games.
So that more or less covers everything good about the Resistance 3, but before I wrap things up there is something negative worth mentioning. For as much fun as I had with Resistance 3, it felt like there was something holding it back from a perfect score. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is though, perhaps it was the somewhat sudden ending, or the uneven difficulty of some parts in the game, maybe it’s just that it ended a lot sooner than I would have otherwise liked.
It’s never a bad thing for a game to leave you wanting more (better than overstaying its welcome at least) but Resistance wasn’t quite all it could have been. Is it greedy of me to say so? A part of me really wants to give Resistance 3 that perfect score, but I just can’t seem to do so for wont of something more. Besides, the only games I have given 5 stars to this year are Portal 2 and El Shaddai, and Resistance 3 isn’t quite on the level of either of those.
That one detail aside however, and the game is as close to perfect as it need be. By taking the best of its predecessors, while scaling the scope back for a more intimate tale, the game Insonmiac have come up with is worthy to be called one of the best on the PlayStation 3. The campaign will challenge you while shuttling you along a tightly woven, fast paced narrative, and the multiplayer and post game bonuses will keep you coming back for more.
I hope Insomniac makes another Resistance game one day, as it would be bittersweet to not take advantage of a series that has only just started to achieve its full potential. While the end of the main story is fairly self contained (and all the better for it) the credits suggest there are still plenty more tales to tell and I’d love to see a new title set in some other part of the world. Japan would be a lot of fun, and they sure as hell reference the fighting going on there enough to have sufficiently whetted my appetite for more.
Resistance 3 was released on September 6th, 2011 exclusively for PS3.