Let’s be honest: the Resistance series hasn’t ever been top-notch. The first game introduced a pretty interesting lore/universe and the groundwork for some creative weapons, but it was plagued by a gray color palate, some muddy launch game graphics, and a lack of utilizing the lore efficiently. That said, it was nice to play a game that let you hold onto more than two weapons at once and didn’t feature regenerating health.
Then Resistance 2 came out and it was plagued by modern shooter-itus. It had regenerating health, fewer open areas for the bigger fights, only let you carry two weapons, and seemed to hinge on big scripted events. The game was generally rejected by fans and probably turned off a lot of people to the franchise entirely.
Enter Resistance 3. This may be the last game in the series (especially to be developed by Insomniac) and it almost feels like it’s the Resistance game that they had always intended to make. The single player campaign hits several notes that make it something uncommon and—dare I say?—amazing. By uncommon, I mean that the Resistance 3 campaign feels like something out of several years ago. Not in a Duke Nukem Forever sort of way, but more in a Half-Life 2 sort of way. In fact, you could draw several parallels between specific moments throughout the R3 campaign and the HL2 campaign.
That’s a good thing, though. It’s been a long time since a shooter has let us hold onto all the weapons we wanted. R3 actually takes this up a notch and adds a Ratchet & Clank-style upgrade system. The more you use the weapons you like, the more they’ll get upgraded with new abilities. It’s a great idea because it encourages you to use all the weapons in your arsenal at all times (and you’ll need to in order to survive). I think a lot of people who play action games will hold on to certain weapons out of a fear that they’ll need them later, but R3 is constructed in such a way that you won’t be holding back at all.
Resistance 3 also features the return of health packs. Your health will never regenerate at all (at least not without unlocking cheats) and you’ll have to find health packs to stay alive. At first, I thought that maybe there were a little too few health packs in the game compared with how much damage enemies did. After finishing the game I realized that this situation actually challenged me and caused me to think about different ways to approach fights before going in. It’s outstanding, especially when most shooters just condition you to fight a bit, hide until your health recharges, repeat.
All of these things are great but the real success of Resistance 3’s campaign is tone and atmosphere. The game’s lighting engine (and particle effects) do an amazing job of really selling how bleak this world is. They say in-game that 90% of humanity has been wiped out by the Chimera at this point and it actually feels like that’s correct. In your journey from Oklahoma to New York you see very little in the way of intact buildings or working technology. Light filters from outside into interiors and highlights dust floating in the air. There’s one fight at the end of the Oklahoma segment where wind is blowing hard and you’re fighting Chimera in the streets. While the textures in the game aren’t perfect, it may be the prettiest environment in a first-person shooter that I’ve seen in years.
But there’s more to tone than environments and visuals. The story is equally as bleak, focusing on the individual people surviving in the Chimera-dominated world rather than some grand military campaign like the second game. After putting some thought into the game, it became clear to me that R3 is a game about what humans are capable of. Throughout the story, you’re shown both the best and worst of that: humans in Oklahoma and St. Louis working together to survive while humans holed up at a prison in Pennsylvania take advantage of those weaker than them. Everyone in the game feels real because people just like them exist in the real world. It becomes even more interesting when you remember that Chimera themselves are just humans infected with some sort of crazy virus. This human element and human focus is what makes the R3 campaign so interesting. It may not be as thought-provoking or challenging as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but Resistance 3 works very well.
The R3 campaign is no slouch on content, either. It can be played coop, either on the couch or online. It features tons of unlockables including skins and cheats. There’s an unlockable difficulty level that’s extremely challenging. If you’re one of those few people left in the world who still play fps games for the single player campaigns, you probably haven’t really been impressed since Half-Life 2 and owe it to yourself to try Resistance 3.