Resistance is a series I fell into by accident, mostly because it was free. An old co-worker of mine in electronics retail land went to one of those trade shows and brought back goodies for everybody in the department. I was lucky in that I was the only person there who owned a PS3 at the time, so free game for me! Resistance: Fall of Man was not a good game. It dragged on too long, the shooting mechanics and level design were stale and mostly boring, but it did have one thing going for it: the story. In the midst of World War 2, aliens show up in Europe and start an invasion, forcing military forces there to quit fighting each other and take out this new threat. I love alternate history stuff so I was pretty bummed when the actual gameplay left me wanting. I gave it one more chance in the form of Resistance 2. That turned out to be a great idea because Resistance 2 was fantastic. Varied level design and encounters, the alien race known as the Chimera invading America, and series protagonist Nathan Hale slowly succumbing to the virus that would turn him alien, but gaining super human abilities in the process. Spoilers for Resistance 2 (and the first cinematic of 3, this is not a secret)! As the previous game ended Hale was killed by one Joseph Capelli, a fellow American soldier who was an ally against the Chimera. It wasn’t a betrayal though, it was because Hale was about to give in to the alien disease. Making another game in a series after your hero is dead is a tough sell, but Resistance 3 surprises. It’s different from both of the previous titles in terms of story and gameplay, and I think manages to almost outshine Resistance 2. It’s nice to see something different!
The first thing that struck me about this game was the tone; bleak. At the end of the second Resistance game, Hale manages to stave off the Chimera for a time, but the situation remains that they are still taking over most of the planet. As Resistance 3 starts, humanity has LOST. Now playing as Capelli, you find yourself in a small pocket of survivors trying to eek out living in Oklahoma. As tends to happens in video games, that doesn’t quite go as planned. Capelli soon embarks on a quest to New York City in a last desperate attempt to destroy a massive tower that is slowly freezing the Earth (the Chimera like it cold). Leaving his wife and young son behind, Joseph sets out to try to make a future for his family, considering if left unchecked, anybody not killed by the Chimera will soon freeze or starve to death. Even this heroic mission is bleak. Destroying the tower will not suddenly defeat the Chimera. Earth is a no longer the place it was before the invasion. The military Chimera are the main threat certainly, but feral breeds have come into being, attacking humans and other Chimera alike. The end goal is not retaking the planet, it’s merely making the planet a place where human beings are even capable of living.
These elements of Earth being an almost alien planet at this point work their way into the actual mechanics. Well over half the weapons you’ll acquire on the journey are of Chimeran origin. That makes sense considering at this point there are factories producing any traditional 1950’s weapons. Humans have adapted to using not only alien weapons but alien energy sources as well, with bright green jars of goo being the “health packs” of the game. Even most of the human settlements and few human vehicles have been modified to run on alien technology. Yes, I said health packs. Resistance 3 is easily the most old school style of shooter I have played in the recent past. There is no regenerative health system, a life meter occupies the lower left hand corner of the screen. The main reason I believe is plot based, as regenerative health was present in the first two games. That was justified as part of the perks of having some alien disease inside you as Hale, but playing as the 100 percent human Capelli, it would make no sense.
So prepare to keep a sharp eye out for the aforementioned jars of green goo. The game is pretty liberal in both leaving them lying around and having them be carried by the Chimeran troops you’re fighting, so it’s not as dire as it seems. It felt strange to actually have to watch a health meter but it did force some tactical moves, as crouching behind something for a few seconds was no longer a cure-all. In general I prefer the regenerative health system that Halo made famous, but the lack of it here did not detract from my enjoyment of the game. The other old school thing, and this one I’m fully behind, was how weapons were handled. Namely, you could carry ALL OF THEM. There was no primary/secondary/pistol/grenade setup here. Pretty quickly into the game I was carrying three different assault rifles, a sniper rifle, a freeze gun, something called “The Atomizor”, a poison spewing gun, a shotgun, 4 different types of grenades, and a revolver. Oh, and a sledgehammer and rocket launcher. It was fun being able to choose the perfect weapon for any given situation, reality be damned. I was never taken out of the experience, it’s a video game people, carry everything!
Shooting things, very important in a an FPS, is excellent in Resistance 3. All those weapons I mentioned each have situations in which they are extremely useful, which says a lot about how varied the encounter design is. The first level involves a fight against a giant mechanical Chimera with some fellow survivors and echos the squad based combat of Resistance games past. Later levels will have you stalking snipers in the mountains, running through abandoned mines with a preacher armed with a shotgun, or even defending a moving train. Enemy tactics will vary greatly as well, with the smarter military chimera taking cover or moving ultra fast to pop and shoot, to the hordes of the zombie like “grims” that will only charge straight at you, but become dangerous as their numbers increase. The game does a great job of balancing the setting to offer these different tactics. Fighting in a narrow subway tunnel is frantic and loud, while clearing house to house in the dead of night with grims everywhere is a ton of tension with intense and almost lightning quick fights.
After about 85 percent of the game, I was ready to call Resistance 3 one of the best shooters I had ever played, but then my big gripe entered. The ending levels and ending itself of the game were, uh… lacking. This will be spoiler free, don’t fret. The world of Resistance 3 was so fully realized that it was easy to get lost in, but the end stopped all that. All of a sudden, at a specific point, I was suddenly very much aware I was playing a video game, in particular a FPS. The level design became cliché and the fights became not a matter of tactics and mood, but trial and error of remembering how many guys would spawn out of doorway number one and how long I had before set of evil dude number two came out of the opposite doorway. The final battle sequence was gimmicky and unsatisfying as well. Finally, the ending itself answered no questions and reached a conclusion not supported by logic. Written and audio journals you find throughout the game give glimpses into the back story of the Chimera and hint at answers as to why they’re here on Earth and what they’re eventual plans are. I was really interested to have some of the topics I read about discussed but the ending makes no mention of it. I’m sad that I see so much effort being put in to the setup and then have no payoff.
As it stands, Resistance 3 is a very good game that misses out on being great by falling prey to video game traditions and conventions in both gameplay and plot near the end. But don’t let the deter you from playing the game. The small bit at the end aside, the rest of it is a fantastic trek through a world is no longer Earth. The story of Joseph Capelli is one I connected with. All he wanted was to spend time with his family and survive, but the prospect of actually doing to insure a future his son could live in drove him away from them and into the teeth of the Chimera. Luckily, he was carrying 16 weapons at once! As an FPS fan and PS3 owner, this exclusive is an easy recommendation. The game plays better than Halo Reach and is still only inches away from eclipsing Microsoft’s flagship exclusive, despite the weak ending. Resistance 3 deserves to be played, it just also deserved a better ending. Maybe next time, I’d be willing to go again.