“Resistance: Fall of Man” is developer Insomniac Games’ first submission to the next generation of console gaming. This isn’t a modern story: humanity traded Hitler and World War II for the Chimera, a massive army of mutated humans that swept through all of Russia and Europe in a matter of weeks (think zombies, but faster, smarter, more numerous than, and technologically superior to humans). You play as protagonist Sgt. Nathan Hale of the United States Army Rangers, who, after a largely unsuccessful invasion on the eastern coast of Great Britain, becomes infected with the Chimeran virus.
Hale doesn’t succumb to the virus, however. In typical Marvel fashion, Hale receives the best of both worlds: the superior healing and reflexes of the Chimera and the powerful moral bulwark that unites humanity…sometimes. The story is told from a historical perspective, narrated by an ally of Hale’s during their fight and shown with montages of maps and stills, with a few cinematic sequences.
Hale’s unique condition is the explanation for the game’s health system. Your health bar is split into four even sections: though your health regenerates, it will stop once it fills one of those sections. If your health drops to 76%, it’ll go back to full in a few seconds, but once you go below that 75% mark, it’ll require a health pack to refill the lost quarter. This system is of little consequence at the easier difficulty levels, but when playing on hard or superhuman, it becomes as important as ammo conservation.
Skirmishes like this fill the early part of the game
“Resistance” offers a wide variety of gameplay situations as you progress through the game. In the earlier missions, you’ll find yourself surrounded by allies and plenty of rubble to act as cover; flanking and well-placed grenades will get you through many skirmishes unscathed. Near the middle of the game, however, you’ll ditch your English comrades for a lot of solo play in tight corridors, empty little towns, and Chimeran fortresses. You’ll rarely find yourself short on ammo for all but the most powerful weapons, but health cannisters can easily become a glowing yellow beacon of hope when you’re hopelessly out-manned and out-gunned.
One of the most frustrating characteristics of the Chimeran race is their ability to single the player out, even in a large group. This is a side effect of the “omniscient AI” the enemies have. Entire squads will detach themselves from their current encounter to get a few shots at the hero, and while this may sound like an easily-exploitable occurrence, your teammates are less than ineffectual. What’s worse is their ability to “see” the player without actually having a line-of-sight; Insomniac was at least gracious enough to add this to the storyline of the game, since this ability is usable in the online mode when playing as a Chimeran, but its terribly frustrating when dealing with Steelheads, whose Auger has the ability to pass through cover and come out more potent on the other side.
Easily the highlight of the game are the variety of weapon types that Insomniac has added. Each weapon has a primary fire (R1) and a secondary fire (L1) that change the tactics with each weapon greatly. The standard army carbine with which you begin the game has a moderately fast rate of fire with the best ranged accuracy in the game, aside from the sniper rifle, and its secondary fire is comprised of a short-range rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The Chimeran weaponry are, needless to say, more exotic in nature: the standard Chimeran rifle, called the Bullseye, has an alternate fire that allows you to “tag” your opponent, forcing your primary fire to home in on them from around corners or behind cover.
The Auger, shown here, has the ability to pass its fire through obstacles
Beyond the primary/secondary fire for each weapon, their usefulness varies greatly in each situation. The Sapper, which launches acidic globules that stick to the environment and each other, is great for setting traps for many of the Chimeran creatures but won’t get you far against the larger varieties. Perfect for taking down large number of enemy troops, the Hailstorm provides the ability to rebound shots off solid surfaces and the alternate fire releases a mobile turret: nice for shifting the odds in your favor, but taxing on ammunition. The weapons are truly something you’ll enjoy playing with when you attempt the more challenging difficulties, as their proper utilization is key to success.
Replay value for the single-player campaign is fairly standard for a first-person shooter: beat the game at one difficulty, unlock “hard” mode, beat the game on “hard” to unlock “superhuman,” beat “superhuman” to unlock a special skin for multiplayer. “Resistance” also has its own variety of achievements, where points are earned for fulfilling extraordinary circumstances; receiving these awards unlocks additional skins and bonus content, like concept art and movies.
In online multiplayer, you’ll be able to use a majority of the weapons found in the campaign mode, and along with them come the tactical diversity. The maps are scaled to suit the number of participants in a match, all the way up to 40 players, and are filled with a variety of cover and environmental dangers. You’ll find that a few maps have too many spawn points for the rocket launcher, or the spawns for the powerful shotgun are too frequent; if there is any problem to be compained about with multiplayer, it’s the game’s weapon balance. Lag-free gameplay doesn’t mean a thing if everyone has a rocket launcher.
Online, players square off as both humans and Chimera
Players will find themselves playing as both human and Chimera in most online matches; humans give players a limited radar and the ability to sprint, while Chimera are given a “rage” ability, which not only allows them to do more damage and take more damage, but while enraged, all players become highlighted in an eerie purple, even through walls and cover. “Resistance” also offers the standard online modes, like deathmatch and “capture the flag,” along with a few new varieties. In a “conversion” match, all players start as human attempt to be the last man standing; after being killed once, a player respawns as a Chimeran, and after the second death, they are eliminated. “Meltdown” is an intense team match, where teams battle for control over various cooling nodes to keep their overheating reactor from taking damage.
Insomniac spent a lot of time gathering sound effects for their game, and it shows in many small details. Your footsteps will change depending on the surface on which you walk, and those different surfaces will generate different sounds depending on the weapon fired at it. Ambient sounds create the effect of intense battles and ghost towns, and even the act of bumping into a table or cart will create a lot of noise. For the most part, in-game music is ambient at best, but a quick drum roll will signal the completion of an objective for those with sharp ears. Those with small stereo and large surround systems will enjoy this game equally.
England has certainly seen better days, but even these bad times look slick in 720p
The graphics are sharp and dirty throughout the title and large amounts of interactive objects, enemies, and allies can be rendered on-screen without the slightest hiccup. However, the color palette used ranges from a dull gray to olive green in most areas. The textures used are flat and fairly devoid of detail, so while the game looks spectacular for a launch title, there is much to be desired for future iterations.
If you’re itching for some fast-paced competition, “Resistance” will not let you down. You won’t be disappointed with the single-player campaign’s variety, and the online multiplayer options are vast and growing. Eye-melting graphics won’t be found, however, and weapon balance could be improved, but Insomniac has made a solid launch title for the PS3.