When the original Resistance was released alongside the PlayStation 3’s launch, it felt very much like a launch title. It was a good lucking, entertaining shooter, but certainly didn’t scream next-gen power. Full of linear paths, indestructible walls, and wide-open spaces purely used as massive arena battles, it served mostly to provide a pre-requisite sci-fi shooter and show off how many creatures the PS3 could shove on the screen at once.
Frankly, not a lot’s changed. The sequel was improved, but still suffered from a by-the-numbers design philosophy and felt like an endless string of gigantic set pieces, absurdly crowded battles, and gauntlet runs. With Resistance 3, Insomniac Games gotten off the leash just a little and while it would be easy to say the formula is fundamentally unchanged, the results are stunningly improved.
The third chapter picks up several years after the oppressively downbeat ending of Resistance 2. Players take the role of Joseph Capelli, the angry grunt from the second game whose actions lead to his dishonorable discharge. Joe has settled down, gotten married, and had a son.
Joe helps protect one of the rare “safe” towns with his family in Oklahoma, and the game does an amazing job of detailing just how dire the situation is for humanity. The chimera has overrun the United States and stopped capturing humans to replace their vast numbers. Now, they just kill any humans they find. To make matters worse, they’ve started reproducing in the wild somehow, leading to a feral breed of chimera that attack anything.
Through the game, Joseph will bear witness to all manner of horrors and wonder on this trip through the darklands of Americana. Vast wild herds of gigantic widow makers, hordes of zombie-like grims, and variations on other old favorites scour the landscape. The levels take you from Oklahoma to the Mississippi river, and through Pennsylvania, in order to reach the ultimate goal of destroying the worm hole generator in the heart of New York City.
To that end, Joe will fight through small towns, mine shafts, and burned out urban landscapes. He’ll defend a moving train and run rampant through a super max prison. Every environment feels new and different in comparison to the last, and the game’s oppressive portrait of a destroyed America makes the action feel all the more intense. Joseph, like Hale before him, isn’t a particularly personable protagonist, but the cinematic sequences and overall story do a good job of presenting him as the country’s last hope.
Resistance 3 throws in some surprisingly retro mechanics that actually make the game feel more innovative. The tired two-gun limit has been thrown out the window, allowing Insomniac to flex their creative penchant for destruction learned from Ratchet & Clank. Players now have access to all available guns all the time—provided they have ammo.
While old standbys like the shotgun, assault and sniper rifle, bullseye, auger, and magnum are all here, many of the new guns are ingenious. There’s a freeze gun, viral mutator, and lightning gun, all of which have very specific and entertaining uses. The secondary fire options are especially well-done. The mutator is a charge shot that can infect most enemies with a mutated chimera virus, leading to a truly awful death. The secondary fire, however, disperses a cloud of the virus to infect a group.
The magnum uses explosive shots that can be detonated at any time with the secondary fire. The lightning gun uses chain lightning normally, but also shoots a sucking vortex of death. The fights tend to be so overwhelming that using all the guns and constantly running low on ammo is common place.
The other change is Joe doesn’t regenerate, nor does he have a shield. Instead, he must find good ol’ health power-ups, which greatly changes up the tactics that most shooters have been relying on since the original Halo. It is somewhat annoying that Joe can’t actually hold med kits in his inventory, leading to somewhat unnecessary frustration during the harder battles.
Resistance 3 still relies heavily on a linear approach to design focusing on huge set pieces and vastly outnumbered battles. During some of these sequences, Joe has some minor help from AI allies, but mostly it’s just him against an army. The battles are well-paced, intense, and mostly incredibly entertaining.
Yet, there are times when it just feels canned. Why, for instance, would a lone human join a battle of militant chimera against a giant, feral widow maker instead of just sneaking around them? Another oddity is the final act, which bizarrely loses steam right when the game should be gearing up for a grand finale.
Just the same, Resistance 3 delivers an insane amount of over-the-top shooting carnage in an environment that feels amazingly compelling. Flaws be damned, this is a great single-player shooter. Multiplayer-centric players can opt to play cooperatively with a second player, or just battle each other with a solid array of online game modes. Some features are tweaked or missing from the earlier games and the multiplayer sessions have been downgraded (again) to 16 players, but it’s still an excellent example of online battling.
The Blast Factor: Add in excellent 3D and Move support, and Resistance 3 marks another great and much improved sequel exclusive to Sony. Insomniac has relaxed enough to tell a familiar story their way instead of simply making PlayStation alternative to Halo, and it shows.