I ran through the dilapidated ruins of St. Louis with the explosive drive core of a downed alien gunship in my two hands, trying my best to avoid the oncoming fire of the enemy Chimera while a new found ally with a goofy Midwestern drawl provided me with cover fire. The rain pounded down as a massive four-legged behemoth dubbed a “Widowmaker” trampled its way through the city remnants overhead. I played “Resistance 3,” and it was awesome.
The “Resistance” franchise has had a rocky history with gamers, always coming up short when held up to its contemporaries. “Resistance: Fall of Man” was a launch title for the Playstation 3 that was quickly made inadequate by more impressive games like “Gears of War” and “Bioshock.” “Resistance 2” made great strides forward for the franchise in both narrative and gameplay, but failed to live up to the acclaim of its console competitor “Killzone 2.” Luckily for developer Insomniac, however, “Resistance 3” is the best installment in the series yet.
“Resistance 3” puts players in control of new series protagonist Joseph Capelli, a soldier-turned-family-man who lives in a subterranean settlement with fellow survivals of the alien Chimera, who have all but decimated humanity.
But when a mysterious wormhole appears over New York City that begins drastically lowering the temperature of the entire planet and a scientist named Dr. Malikov claims to have the solution, Joe is reluctantly tasked with escorting Malikov up an exceedingly hostile East coast, leaving his wife and son behind in hopes of providing a better world for his child.
Joe’s connection with his family is the driving force of the narrative and provides “Resistance 3” with something none of its predecessors had: heart. Experiencing Capelli’s connection to his family first hand makes every one of his triumphs and failures along his journey all the more pungent. By the time I found myself in the last act of the game I didn’t know whether Capelli would succeed or not; I knew only that I wanted him to with every bone in my joystick-pedaling hands.
Another facet of “Resistance 3” that helps to cement the relationship between the player and Capelli is the use of health packs, a gameplay decision I initially found myself cursing. In the age of regenerating health meters, games that make use of health packs are few and far between. But what I initially found as a disruption to the flow and narrative of the game I soon found better put me in the shoes of Joseph Capelli, who began to feel less like a nearly invincible, rejuvenating shield that put a healthy distance between me and the artificial antagonists of the game, and more like a real character, desperately trying to survive in hostile conditions, frantically fighting and searching to make every ounce of health count.
Much of the gameplay in “Resistance 3” has been seen elsewhere. Players have guns and plenty of monsters to shoot them at.
However, the “Resistance” franchise gets very imaginative with its weaponry. Old favorites like the Bullseye (which tags enemies with a homing beacon, eliminating the need to aim) and the Auger (which can shoot through walls) are back, but there are a fair share of new weapons that spice things up.
The Mutilator causes enemies to swell with grotesque deformations and the Atomizer can fire grenades that create miniature worm holes that vaporize any attackers unlucky enough to be sucked in.
“Resistance 3” also offers a fair share of diversity in its campaign. Riding down the Mississippi River, beating assailants with a sledgehammer in a gladiator-style prison fight and battling it out with a subterranean kraken in a boss fight that masterfully pays homage to “Jaws” are just a few occurrences that keep the game fresh and exciting throughout.
That being said, “Resistance 3” has its faults, though they are far overshadowed by its triumphs. Many of the set pieces and sequences in “Resistance 3” can be found elsewhere. A level set on a moving train was exciting, but ultimately served as a reminder of how much more exciting the same type of level was in “Uncharted 2,” and while creeping through a deserted town full of emaciated monsters was no walk in the park, it was a breath of fresh air compared to some sequences in the “Dead Space” franchise.
But when “Resistance 3” is at its best players will feel completely immersed in Capelli’s story, something that is extremely commendable, particularly in a franchise previously known for stale characters and bland narratives.
“Resistance 3” is a terrific game and while the series may once again become overshadowed by the blockbuster titles coming out later this fall, Joseph Capelli’s trip up the East coast of a disheveled and broken America shouldn’t be missed.
Image courtesy of deviantart.com