January 29th, 2009
When I was away in China my brother bought a second PS3 controller (the overpriced, overdue Dual Shock 3), so since I’ve been home the two of us have been playing the original Resistance in co-operative mode. While I’ve been enjoying Nathan Hale’s tour through Great Britain, the game feels so anemic and grates on you the whole way through. It’s a brilliant, high production show piece for the PS3 and it’s launch (Resistance was a launch title), but it does bore over you a little.
My biggest gripe is that Resistance seemingly doesn’t want to break out of it’s narrow perspective of the first person shooter genre. The core gameplay essentially involves moving from one area to another, gunning down waves of Chimera and then moving to another area and doing it again, albeit in a slightly different fashion. I guess fundamentally there is nothing wrong with this, the shooting is enjoyable, the creative weapons are much the highlight (collect as you go, no limitations imposed) and Chimera make for good cannon fodder. The downside is this eventually becomes an exercise of monotony, there is no real succulence to the running and gunning to spur you on. This repetition in what the game asks of you (shoot, walk some, shoot some more) and the uninspired configuration it provides you with eventually lead into a grind. It’s not completely overbearing, but it does make you feel fatigued very quickly, meaning the game works best in shorter bursts.
At some point in the game you wonder when mission objectives will deviate away from basic shooting but they never really do. The grind doesn’t loosen at all, right up to the anti-climatic ending and it’s a real disappointment to see, as just a couple of small diversions to spice things up would have strengthened the games appeal greatly.
The 1950s Europe meets alien invasion premise is an interesting take which is ultimately never fleshed out enough to become engaging. The narrative is mostly told through transitions of panning well drawn, greyscale artwork depicting the affects that the Chimera scurge has had on the classic landscape.
The voice work is solid but the delivery of narrative is one dimensional and distances you from the unfolding drama regarding the war and Hale himself. Speaking of Hale, he is a bland, boring character who rarely murmurs a word, even when given the chance to. His most interesting asset is perhaps his bald head and the fact that you can tell he was animated by the “Ratchet and Clank guys”. There are two other characters, a female who narrates the supposive heroics of Nathan Hale (which never feel justified as we rarely bare witness to much of it) and another guy which I can’t remember much about. Foot soldiers also throw a few jibes but the 1950s setting makes it difficult for me to decipher whether the (predominately) English and (sometimes) Australian soldiers are authentically recreated. Despite the hiring of dialect writers and so forth, I strongly doubt it.
The environments show promise and quite often liven up a tough firefight. You battle the elements (great snow effects) and move between areas both affected and unaffected by the invasion. This makes for some interesting hybridized landscapes but since most of it is static and not interactive they contribute little to the interaction. The one thing the environments are good for is they always ensure that you feel as though you are trudging through a different place, all the time. It also seems like Insomniac tried to create a historic feel to the game by the use of bloom lighting and soft hues which look nice but frequently wash out the colours too much.
The one thing that Resistance has going for it is the weapon selection; the rift that adds variety, depth and enjoyment to the game. There is a healthy number of interesting alien weaponary at hand and all affect the way you approach a given situation. There’s a sniper rifle which can slow time, hedgehog grenades which explode into spikes, the Hailstorm which fires out green needles and has a crazy secondary fire function which sends out a spiraling ball of rapid fire needles. There’s the bullseye which can lock onto targets, Auger Rifle which shoots through walls and can fire protective shields. Each weapon in this game is very memorable and unique. They’re also fun to use and pretty fun to watch being used as well. As the game progresses you’ll have to switch between these weapons on the fly to react to the changing battle climate. overcome each situation. The weapons go a long way to increase the appeal of this title.
Despite staying true to convention – so far as to say the game feels dated – Resistance is generally a well made first person shooter. I think it deserves much praise for being a launch title that not only looks fantastic but also has a generous length to it in both single and multiplayer. Resistance is so familiar and arguably ‘stale’ that it can only go so far in the small pond it has placed itself in. But even for that small pond it manages to be a success.