An improved sequel that still sticks to closely to the FPS rules
“Resistance 3 is great!” I screamed excitedly to EGM colleague and fellow Resistance fan Ray Carsillo in a text message—a couple of hours through what I was happily sure would be redemption for Insomniac’s stunted Resistance 2.
A few hours later: “Um, scratch that. Ugh.”
I could’ve enthusiastically continued the conversation all night, and it would’ve conflated with moments of excitement, frustration, disappointment, and praise. This spirited—and, at times, soaring—first-person march through a 1950s alien apocalypse is by no means an “ugh” game. It’s just that every high moment is followed by some tedious, questionable stretch that fractures the experience.
Modern-warfare games are quickly starting to lose their hold on me, and I say this as someone who defends Modern Warfare 2 as one of the great shooters. My palate’s simply fatigued, which makes Resistance 3’s diversely colored setting even that much more engaging. Sure, I’m still following the leader through a war maze, going on rescue missions, and all the other paint-by-numbers choices, but it’s really enjoyable being in a field in Oklahoma or following a guy in farmer gear rather than some overly designed super military suit. It’s not just the time period that Insomniac handles with an artist’s touch—the Middle America vibe comes through richly, and with a stylistic touch that feels more fantasy than reality, more dreamlike in its war-torn horrors. And, at times, even a little beautiful. The game struggles to maintain its finer emotional beats, but the quieter scenes after a drawn-out battle are well done and unexpectedly harsh.
I like that Resistance 3 can get downright nasty at times with its depiction of violence—and the aftermath of battle. One of the better stretches takes place in a decrepit prison, where man becomes the face of evil and you’re forced to wreak havoc with a giant sledgehammer. This area also introduces a deviously fun weapon that allows you to infect your victim and watch him struggle…and eventually pop. The game’s hopeless tone can get a little awkward at times—the Bible-thumping community introduced here is effective yet underdeveloped—but there’s an earnestness and cinematic sweep to Resistance 3 that’s removed from the usual bombast of the genre.
Resistance 3 is true to the series and maintains its strength to entertain with nifty weapons that don’t feel ripped out of the familiar FPS handbook. The game just doesn’t feel like everything else out there, even when you’re essentially shooting off a sniper rifle. The experience system applied to weapons usage is a nice touch; it signifies effectively that there’s a fun, mechanics-driven game here just as much as the “realistic warfare.” Big boss battles are indeed gigantic and classically spun, requiring you to discern patterns and attack soft spots. I would’ve enjoyed a few more in the end—if only to cut up the occasional stretches of tedious shootouts. One of Resistance 3’s nagging weaknesses exists in the persistence that, hey, if we can send 20 alien scum running at you, wouldn’t 10 times that be pure awesome, served up on an assembly line? One generic midgame area, dusky and cavelike, contains what I believe could be the gaming record for aliens popping out of pods.
If I were to keep on texting Ray my thoughts before he read this review, I’d succinctly say: “Resistance 3 is a fun ride; it’s just so frustratingly inconsistent and can’t escape the same old, lazy genre trappings despite its bold successes.”
As a side note, for proper impressions of Resistance 3’s multiplayer components—there’s a lot of ground to cover and necessary investment post-release, so check back here for final impressions.
SUMMARY: Resistance 3’s high-points set some new watermarks for the series, but inconsistency and a noticeable lack of innovation keeps it from becoming canon in a crowded field.
- THE GOOD: The setting, the feel, the style, the pedigree
- THE BAD: Feels underdeveloped in ideas and execution
- THE UGLY: Decapitations when you least expect them