In Hindsight: Resistance: Fall of Man

When Resistance: Fall of Man was first released, the Playstation 3 was struggling its way through an over-hyped and under-supported launch. The games worth playing on the unbelievably expensive machine could be counted on half a hand. Resistance’s presence as one of the few games actually worth the $60 price of admission helped to propel the game and resulting franchise to success. Time has passed however, and the PS3, while still lacking in the eyes of some, has a much wider library of critically acclaimed exclusives and multiplatform titles to its credit. Noting that, the question that remains is if Resistance still shines today the way it did when there was nothing else to hold against it on the PS3.

The answer is a little bit of yes and a little bit of no. Playing Resistance today, it’s still a very solid game. A number of things have come along that have made it a bit less attractive, but as a game, people could choose far worse. In many ways, when one adds all the things that Resistance does well, it may even be a better value than the games that followed it, especially with the upcoming greatest hits line of PS3 games.

The single-player campaign is rather solid, but not without its flaws. The length and scale are in many ways superior to the games that came after it; Resistance’s story mode is much longer than many of it’s contemporaries. It’s length actually brings to mind a time when the single-player mode was the focus of shooters, rather than the multi-player mode, and to its credit, it remains interesting and challenging up until the very end. The game successfully pulls off things what a lot of other games have all but abandoned in recent years. Large-scale boss battles, for instance, dot the game throughout and do a good job of breaking up the more routine firefights. The levels that involve vehicles, though they are few and far between, also run well. Resistance’s single-player experience simply offers a more substantial experience than its competitors, which seem almost to just tack on a story mode out of the necessity of making a complete game.

This said, while the single-player campaign is fun, the story that accompanies it can be downright mediocre at times. While the narrative, told in an after-the-fact historic style, is interesting, the game barely puts forth an effort to make you care about the characters. The player’s character, Nathan Hale, barely speaks more than a few lines throughout the entirety of the game, and is the ultimate representation of the generic interchangeable tough guy character. You know and care so little at the end that the story is almost inconsequential. This is a far cry from the likes of Call of Duty 4: despite having a short campaign, it featured a story and ending so gripping that gamers still talk about it long after its release. Even Battlefield: Bad Company, which features one of the worst story modes in recent memory, has a cast of characters more memorable than that of Resistance. For its flaws, Bad Company featured personalities that were capable of making you genuinely laugh in the middle of just about any fight. In Resistance, if there are any other soldiers to speak of helping you they are about as expendable as an NPC could possibly get, often leaving little or no impression on the player.

The thing about shooters, though, especially modern ones, is that the single-player campaign is rarely even the priority of gamers and therefore the game itself. The multi-player experience has leapt into the forefront of this genre, often trumping single-player experiences altogether. On that note, Resistance still maintains a solid multi-player experience. Logging on today, years after its initial release, its community is still relatively lively. It offers a diverse selection of play modes, though many can be found in other games. Player’s advance in rank based on how many kills they score and can earn new clothing and accessories to customize their soldier’s appearance. This kind of advancement, however pales in comparison to what other games have done since. Call of Duty 4, for instance, features a class and experience system that is leagues beyond what Resistance put forward. The ability to customize your online solder in ways that are actually practically useful in the game itself is far more appealing than being able to give your character a canteen or different looking helmet.

The unique element of Resistance’s online play is the Humans vs. Chimera element. Playing as either one yields a whole different set of useful skills: the humans can sprint, crouch, and have access to a radar, while Chimeran players can activate a special mode that allows them to run faster, take and dish out more damage, and see through walls with pseudo-infrared. Again, however, the skills available via this dichotomy are not enough to trump what newer games offer. Call of Duty 4’s system has already been mentioned, and the vehicles of Warhawk and Bad Company offer alternatives to player’s who aren’t as skilled with straight shooter mechanics. The weaponry of Resistance also offer some interesting variety, but that too means little when compared to the mounds of other features that the competition offers.

If anything, the only real advantage that Resistance holds over its competition is the size of its fights. Call of Duty 4 allows up to 18 players per map. Bad Company supports 24. With the potential for 40 player brawls, Resistance still features one of the highest player caps for a console shooter. While a battle of the size might seem a bit too chaotic, it’s a fun chaos that provides an experience unlike any other.

Graphically, Resistance perhaps has not aged well. While it most certainly looks the part of a next generation title, there are a number of rough edges throughout the game and the color palette is incredibly drab. A number of games suffer from this, and Resistance 2 seems poised to correct it, but it is costs the game some points. There are a few points that are still impressive. Things explode quite well; unloading rounds on a Chimeran soldier is surprisingly impressive, with rounds often blowing away the tubing that protrudes from their armor. This said, there are just better looking games than Resistance.

The audio of Resistance is in most ways average. The sounds of battle are very effective: explosions are deafening, bullets whistle past and ricochet menacingly off of your cover spot, but then again, most good shooters pull this off and those good ones released after Resistance often do so better. The music is also completely forgettable, fitting well in the background but never sticking with you in the slightest. Its presence is almost pointless in the game, as it’s often likely to be unheard behind the chorus of gunshots, explosions, and alien screams.

Resistance: Fall of Man is a game that does a lot very well, but doesn’t really specialize in much. On one level this isn’t a bad thing: Resistance generalizes, but it does so very well, drawing those things that worked best in other games and making them its own. The problem is that in the long run, much of what Resistance does is forgettable. It doesn’t bring a lot to the table that hasn’t been done before, and while the franchise features an interesting setting and a nice focus on large scale, its influence is visibly limited in the games that followed.

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