Resistance 3 begins with the kind of intensity you’d expect from a big-budget, all-out action blockbuster title backed by one of the industry’s wealthiest and most-influential publishers. After the mandatory this-is-how-to-fire-your-weapon tutorial, you’re thrown into a battle against a Chimeran Stalker. Five minutes later the mechanical beast is dead, your heart is pumping and you’re eager to see what’s coming next.
Thankfully, what comes proves that the involving opening is no fluke as the Chimera continue to flood in, the bullets continue to fly and the weapons and gadgets begin to diversify. Wrap this kind of action in crisp visuals and a basic, but serviceable, story – travel from Oklahoma to New York City to destroy a Chimeran ‘terra-former’ – and you’ve got all the blocks you need for a top-notch, current-gen shooter.
For the first third of the campaign, at least, Resistance 3 is nothing but top-notch. This quality begins with the diversity and gratifying nature of the arsenal made available to you. Every gun has a secondary function which makes things much more interesting by lifting them from being run-of-the-mill to something unique (usually).
The standard magnum pistol, for example, packs bullets that can be manually detonated after lodging themselves in an enemy, further damaging them and everyone/everything around them. Then there’s the ‘Auger’ with which you can shoot through solid objects (walls, rocks, metal etc), the ‘Wildfire’ rocket launcher with a mortar function and the classic ‘Bullseye’ assault rifle and its lock-on beam allowing you to hit enemies from around blind corners or ledges.
Add to this a healthy selection of grenade types and other variations on the shotgun, sniper rifle et al and even a clumsy-but-effective sledgehammer and there’s little to complain about when it comes to the weaponry.
Enemies are similarly diverse and interesting, creating worthwhile and enjoyable targets to unleash your mountain of weapons upon. Standard Chimera present different challenges based on their weapon of choice; snipers, assault infantry, rocket launcher types etc. The real fun comes when faced with the zombie like ‘Grims’, the high-jumping ‘Longlegs’, the giant and spidery ‘Widowmaker’ and, among many others, the aforementioned ‘Stalker’.
Each type requires a slightly different approach to deal with them effectively, opening up many opportunities for creative play when faced with situations involving a wide selection of the little (and big) critters. Resistance 3 is at its best when you’re fighting close combat against standard foe while trying to avoid (and return fire on) snipers, all the whilst figuring a way to take the powerful, charging, heavily armoured ‘Brawler’ or the muscled mass of a ‘Ravager’. In these multi-dimensional encounters, Resistance 3 is superb.
Combat is also enhanced through the use of health packs over an automatic health regeneration system. By forcing you to pick up such items to stay alive, the game forces a slightly slower, more considered pace than the majority of its contemporary peers; at times verging into survival horror-like gameplay moments in which you’re desperately trying to stay alive in the knowledge that one more direct hit is going to end your life.
However, before the all-action contingent get too worried, health packs are fairly easy to find if you’re preferred to go slightly off the beaten track and many enemies will drop them after you’ve ended their life. No matter which way you look at it though, you do need to be more canny; hiding behind a rock for ten seconds won’t magically heal those wounds.
The old-skool sensibility brought on by the inclusion of health packs is compounded by the lack of destructible cover, the exclusion of radar as part of your HUD as well as by the fact that you can carry every gun in the game at once. Rather than a hindrance the lack of modern conveniences is in fact welcome, serving as a reminder that someone out there still knows how to make a challenging FPS without simply resorting to lowering your health bar or increasing the number of enemies.
Unfortunately, however, the quality of the first third is not sustained into the second. A dodgy middle act that relies too heavily on encounters with the Grim ‘zombies’, an awkwardly constructed set-piece and an atrociously written sequence straight out of a Mad Max movie mar an otherwise excellent achievement. At times certain sections featuring hordes of Grim feel like something out of Left 4 Dead, only without the charm, style and originality that made that game so sensational.
This detour away from epic encounters and well-balanced set-pieces is a major misstep; the second act requiring some major patience and persistence to play through. It ends up tarnishing the whole experience and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Considering that the game takes between six and seven hours to complete, and these sections combine to create a two and a half hour segment, it’s a hefty chunk of game time to get wrong.
Things pick up and get good again in the final act by going back to basics and focusing on varied combat against a diverse set of enemies. However, the quality of that final act is not sufficient to fully make up for the appalling second and by the time it’s all over the sense of frustration remains.
It’s also worth mentioning that when playing the campaign in co-op this second act dip is somewhat reduced purely because you’re playing with a partner; the shared responsibility and sense of camaraderie forcing you together in the face of lacklustre gameplay.
Aside from that though (and the fact that, despite teased, you never get to fight a certain enemy) Resistance 3 is a great game. The story of Joe Capelli travelling to New York to destroy the terra-former and save the Earth is interesting enough to hold your attention; helped by the fact that the writers have woven in plenty of emotional baggage in that your wife and kid are waiting for you back in Oklahoma.
Like most games of this ilk nowadays, the bare bones of the story is told through cut-scenes with the juicy bits left to audio logs, dropped letters and in-game scenes amongst those affected by the invasion. The latter have been scripted in such a way as to prevent them feeling too cheesy and preachy – think Homefront but with the level of sappy, patriotic bullshit dialled back about ten levels.
The visuals are nice, too. Undoubtedly the bleakest looking Resistance game to date, scorched land blends into partially destroyed buildings, tightly woven caves and, eventually, a post-apocalyptic vision of NYC to create a real sense of war, pain and isolation. There were a few glitches in the form of AI clipping and texture pop-up but, for the most part, this is a game that stands toe to toe with the rest.
If it wasn’t for that second act, Resistance 3 would be looking at a higher score. However, given its duration and the disappointment it heaps upon you, it’s that middle third that prevents it from living up to the potential it clearly possesses. It’s certainly worth playing but, equally, it’s certainly not a classic.