E3 Hands-On: Resistance 2 Multiplayer

Given all the attention that fancy Killzone 2 was getting on the E3 show floor, Resistance 2’s playable kiosk was looking a little bit lonely, and so we decided to head over and give it some love. Of course, our play session wasn’t motivated out of complete pity. After all, the original Resistance was one of the only real quality offerings at the PS3’s launch, and with 60 players online who wouldn’t want to give its sequel a whirl?

The demo offered only one map, the isolated village of cottages in a surrounding forest that you’ve probably already seen videos of before. The name of the game: Skirmish, pitting Humans and Chimera in the classic struggle for control points seen in most online shooters supporting an exceptionally high number of players (fighting over one flag with 60 people wouldn’t make much sense, now would it?).

Thankfully, Resistance 2 didn’t devolve into utter chaos with its mass of online participants, a problem which I find sucks the fun out of most large-scale FPS games. Instead, Insomniac has preserved the more intimate nature of, say, a 12-player game by placing you in a squad with a small group of other gamers. Your unit will also have a rival faction with opposing goals, giving you the chance to form some personal vendettas even in a game with loads of other enemies to shoot at.

Most of our encounters ranged in size from some small firefights to heated battles over certain control points, but things never really flew off the handle. Something very apparent was that, despite having about 60 people in the match at all times, there was never any lag whatsoever, and this isn’t even the final build.

For the most part, the combat in general felt quite similar to the original Resistance. A couple of new weapons were available in the demo, such as a new semi-automatic rifle, known as the Marksman, and a minigun, but overall, the engagements were pretty familiar. Don’t worry about Resistance 2’s higher player count being the only upgrade, as Insomniac has created an all new experience/rewards system that does add some extra depth, as well as incentive for team play.

Experience is gained through killing enemy players and completing objectives, much in the same way it works in Call of Duty 4. The inclusion of an XP system in many new FPS games of late (example: Battlefield: Bad Company) shows that this mechanic is starting to look like the next big trend in online shooters, but that’s a whole other article. So anyways, all of these XP points have to go somewhere, right?

As you gain XP, a variety of special abilities will be unlocked that can be activated at any time during gameplay by pressing right on the D-pad. In the E3 demo, only Chimeran powers were available, but we were assured a Human set will be in the final build. Some of the abilities available in the demo were: berserker, invisibility, extra health, electro-orb burst, and Chimeran vision. Other functions that I really enjoyed were the healing circle and leadership aura; the latter gives double XP to those who stick close to the one wielding the perk. This is a fantastic way to encourage team play. Not only does it give players a reason to stick together, but dangles a double XP coated carrot in front of them, satiating every gamer’s greed for more points, but persuading them to do it through teamwork.

If we really wanted to pick on Resistance 2, we’d have to say that the multiplayer’s graphics don’t seem to have all that much of an upgrade from the original. The single-player footage I have witnessed appears to be further along in terms of the environments’ lighting and texture details, but remember that this is not a final build.

When a representative from Sony was around, we did try to get some details on other maps out of them, but all we could manage is that the game will “probably” have more than ten at launch.

So although it may not have looked immediately different from its predecessor on the surface, Resistance 2 is doing a good job of not only supporting its enormous player count, but is efficiently managing it through controlled squads and team focused mechanics that exist within them. We know Resistance may be a bit insecure about its more attractive PS3-exclusive sister drawing all those stares at E3, but we can say that the game’s multiplayer ran well, and there’s still plenty more for Insomiac to reveal.

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