Resistance 3: Successor to Half Life 2?
Well…damn it. I just keep being wrong, don’t I? First I hastily dismissed “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” at E3 this year, and then it came back around and backhanded me in front of everyone. Now another title I callously waved away, “Resistance 3,” is proving to be one of the best shooters of the year, and easily the best on the PS3. Seriously, I’ve been up until 6 am every morning playing this thing.
I’m going to make an infuriating claim here: “Resistance 3″ is the successor to “Half Life 2,” and not far from its equal in quality of gameplay design. Now put down your pitchforks, hit the jump, and let me back that up.
Did the team at Insomniac just start eating their Wheaties or something? Cause I owned the last game in this series, and it was a mile from this kind of quality. Yes, the weapons were cool, but the Chimera was a dull and lifeless adversary (not unlike the Helghast), and the combat encounters ranged from cheap deaths to monotonous room-clearing (I did like the 8-player co-op and 60 person multiplayer, though; more on that later). I could barely bother myself to pick up the controller.
So imagine my surprise when I popped “Resistance 3″ into my PS3 and it leaped off the screen with incredible energy and razor-sharp gameplay. Even elements that had been in the franchise for years were up and kicking like they’d been asleep in the last two games. Where the hell did this come from, Insomniac?
However they did it, what matters is the result: some of the finest campaign shooter action money can buy. But okay, I’m not going to sit here spewing superlatives at you, here are five provable facts about R3 to support that claim.
1. Variety. You are never, ever doing the same thing for very long in this game. Insomniac constantly juggles in new elements. Most shooters through an on-rails level in somewhere and call it a day on the variety front, but oh no, not here. You have escort missions, zombie levels, sniper sections, open-field battles, “just run” missions, corridor combat, pseudo-stealth, massive boss fights, each executed with incredible polish and nary a moment to take a breath between. It’s perfect asymmetry of game design. And there’s no “Library”-esque rotten apples in the bunch.
2. Weapons. “Resistance 3″ features the best arsenal I’ve seen in a shooter of this generation. There, I said it. There’s nothing as iconic as the Lancer from “Gears,” but these guns just feel good to fire. More than that, though, each one offers tactical wrinkles that make each encounter unique. From the Marksman’s turret gun to the Auger’s see-through-walls scope, Insomniac’s firepower is “Resistance 3′s” backbone. With such a colorful and well-balanced cast of weapons, there’s a sense of endless possibilities in every fight.
Better yet, R3 employs one of my favorite leveling mechanics: use a weapon frequently, and it upgrades. This creates both satisfaction in finding your unique style and encourages variety. Smartly, the leveling system only goes up 3 levels, so it’s unlikely you’ll get so far down the line with one gun that the others will become useless or uninteresting. It’s just perfectly executed all around. Bravo.
3. Health. In an act of boldness that borders on arrogance, Insomniac chose not to give you regenerating health. Ouch. Turns out, it was one of their savviest moves, as it raises the stakes for every fight and makes the player more nervous about making mistakes. Even smarter, health pick-ups are almost always found on dead Chimera, so if you want to live, you have to move forward. Coupled with a fair-minded checkpoint system, this slightly retro decision ends up making the whole game more urgent and exciting.
4. Story. While not exactly Shakespeare, “Resistance 3″ at least goes to the trouble of writing convincing dialog for its characters. On top of that, the sense of place here is about three times as strong as “Resistance 2.” The dimly lit underground bunker where the game begins is a breath-taker, as is the hushed church where refugees hide and wait for an insidious Chimera called “Satan” to devour them alive. And for once in a shooter, no one says anything that makes me want to rip my hair out. I really believed in the world of “Resistance 3,” and that went a long way towards keeping me engaged.
5. Enemies. Anyone who has played “Vanquish” knows that recycling bosses and bad guys is becoming a problem in games these days. Thankfully, “Resistance 3″ features not only a healthy assortment of Chimera, but a quality of design in each that makes them fun to master. From the grasshopper esque Longlegs (I hate those guys so much) to the monstrous Brawler, new challenges are always around the corner. And they’re not just increasingly sturdy bullet sponges, they have different strengths and weaknesses that force you to use different weapons.
Okay, now look at that list, and tell me you aren’t reminded of “Half Life 2.” These two games are spiritual cousins. The gritty, survivalist tone; the oppressive alien force overrunning Earth; the “just run for it” missions; being stranded in a small town overrun by zombie-like things; inventive, “how the hell do I use this?” weapons; stronger focus on tone and story than elsewhere. The similarities keep piling up.
Granted, no one can touch HL2′s incredible story, weapon design, and iconic set pieces. But “Resistance 3″ comes closer than you might think, and that’s damned impressive. If you ask me, this campaign experience blows a lot of the competition out of the water and puts everyone on notice. I only wish they had cracked the gameplay so effectively before the third entry in the series.
bump it in your x wing