Every console launch needs a tent pole title, the game that shows off what the system can do in terms of game play and graphics. For the PLAYSTATION 3, that title is Resistance: Fall of Man from Insomniac Games. Not only is the game expected to carry the load for Sony but the title also had the distinct honor of debuting against Gears of War, Microsoft's second generation alien shooter that hit store shelves the week before, so it’s got that going for it as well.
The game takes place during an alternate history World War II era Europe where and you take on the role of Nathan Hale, an American GI sent to help free Great Britain from the clutches of the Chimera. WWII never happened as the Chimera disrupted the region before Hitler could get things going. The Chimera are an alien race of unknown origin that seems to have started Russia but have spread across Europe and now into the UK. The fun thing with the Chimera is that they capture humans and then mutate them into new Chimera so death is the better option than being captured right? Well unfortunately for you Mr. Hale gets captured early on in the game but is interrupted during the conversion process saving him from becoming a full Chimera This gives you some of the benefits of being a Chimera (like speed and regenerating health) without the disadvantages of o. If the plot sounds a bit familiar then you've probably played Quake IV, or any other genre piece which has used a similar plot construct.
While the components of the plot are not the most original, the overall plotline is excellent. The story is told as a flashback from the perspective of one of the British resistance fighters that Hale saves early on in the game. As you progress through the game you’ll work your way from the English country side to the heart of London and along the way you’ll get to pilot a few vehicles and kill wave after wave of Chimera.
Chimera come in a few different shapes and sizes as you have everything from unarmed drones that grab and gnaw on you to flying behemoths that shoot spikes at you. The Chimera AI is rock solid as they will attempt to flank you and work in groups to come at you from multiple directions. They also respond intelligently (almost too intelligently) to when you pick them off at range with a sniper rifle.
The game is also a return to the old days of the one man killing machine as you fight alone for most of the game. It’s a nice change up from games like Gears of War and Call of Duty 3 where you’re working with a group of people. There are portions of the game where you do have a few comrades in arms to work with but that majority of the game is spent by yourself. Is that a bad thing? Not really as the AI of your co-horts isn’t that good as they tend to wander into your field of fire and tend to die quicker than teens who just had sex in a horror movie. The game does support two player co-op over split screen which is an OK addition but will disappoint those who have been spoiled by Gears of War amazing co-op over Xbox Live.
Since you are riding solo for most of the game, the folks at Insomniac have provided you with a huge arsenal to help you dispatch Chimera. Whereas the gimmick behind Gears of War was the cover system, in Resistance you have a wide selection of weapons at your disposal. There is a rifle that allows you to shoot through walls, a rocket launcher that allows you to direct its missile after firing, two standard rifles, a shotgun, sniper rifle, and a chaingun that doubles as a sentry gun. In addition to the primary weapons you have a variety of grenades at your disposal. Besides your standard grenade there is the Hedgehog, a fragmentation grenade that fires out a set of sharp spikes when it lands. My personal favorite is the Fuel Air grenade which spits out a cloud of gas and then ignites creating a localized fireball that roasts any Chimera near it.
The controls in Resistance are rock solid. You have your typical control scheme with the left thumbstick moving Hale and the right thumbstick controlling where he looks and aims. The X button allows you to jump while the triangle button allows you to interact with the environment or perform a melee attack. The R1 and L1 buttons control the primary and secondary fire respectively. The real genius of the control scheme is that you use the R2 button to switch weapons. Pressing the R2 button brings up a radial menu with all the weapons you currently have and you just push the left thumbstick in the direction of the weapon you want to pick. It’s a great system that allows you to quickly switch weapons. A nice feature of the system is that the two main weapons you’ll use, the two assault rifles, are at the top and bottom of the tree so you know where they are at all times.
The game does use the motion control of the SIXAXIS control, if you are seized by any of the low end Chimera you have to shake the control to get them off you. Yes, it feels as tacked on as it sounds.
Graphically Resistance is a beauty. While it’s not quite at the level of Gears of War it’s still one of the best looking titles out there. The Chimera are exceedingly good looking and there’s a lot of detail to them (you can actually shoot the individual hoses off their back).
Where the game really stands out is the level design. There are a few generic maps there are also a lot of levels that just take your breath away. Without spoiling anything there’s one level towards the end of the game where you are inside one of the Chimeran bases and you realize how huge the levels are. There are some excellent signature moments in the game that are worth going back and replaying.
Another great feature of the game is that in some of the huge firefights the game the game never slows down and never drops a frame. This is with ten to twenty enemies and friendlies on the screen the never bogs down and some of those enemies are the giant monster kind.
You can play through the game a few times as each time you play through you the game unlocks more weapons along with some new plot details. Once you get done with the single player side there’s a decent multiplayer component to play around with. There are a nice set of modes and there’s a nice humans versus Chimera mode
There’s not a lot wrong with Resistance. Sure you don’t use all the weapons and some of them seem a bit superfluous. Then again that’s like complaining about having too many kinds of cake for your birthday. As I mentioned earlier the AI in the game is sometimes a little too good but that’s not a bad thing.
Resistance: Fall of Man is a fantastic game that has some of the most creative weapons ever put into a game. The only problem is that not a lot of people are going to play this amazing game because it is only available on the PS3 and between the initial shortage of units and the sky high price of a PS3. This is a real shame as I think this was easily one of the best games of 2006.