Resistance: Fall of Man ReviewAlec Hilton
Along side the launch of any new console there will be a few winners but mostly some pumped out crap or the cash-in ports; it’s sad to say, but very true, and worthwhile to note. But the winning titles from the catalog of the line-up are some of the most surprising to me. Fortunately for the PlayStation 3 launch earlier this year, we were blessed with one of the most well thought out first person shooters that I have seen in a very long time.
Resistance: Fall of Man is one of the crème de la crop of games for the console and rightly so. The build-up to Resistance was one of some of the most intensive hype that I have encountered. Resistance is touted as the first game to show off the awesome power of the PS3 for all its glory and the PlayStation’s answer to Halo. Coming from the team behind the wonderful Ratchet and Clank series, it has a good start, but with that kind of hype behind it, can the game really live up to its reputation?
The game is set in the 1950s in an alterative universe where the Second World War never happened; instead something darker has taken control of Europe. The Chimera, a fierce alien race, intend to spread themselves across Europe, using a zombie-like disease that will transform any unfortunate soul they come across. You take on the role of Nathan Hale, a Sergeant in the American Army, who is sent over to aid in the liberation of Britain. But things go wrong, and you and your buddies are thrown into a chaotic battle on the streets of York. The end of this first foray into the game is where the true story starts. Having survived the mean streets of York, you meet up with some buddies and congrats are short lived, literally! Your group is set upon by one of the many species of Chimera and is killed, but amazingly, a Medic wakes Hale with not a single wound on him. Hale is now infected by the Chimera.
This is one of the key points of the game; Hale has developed abilities akin to the dreaded enemy, one of which is being able to heal after a few seconds of rest, which is a lifesaver in the heat of a gun battle. One of the others seems to be an innate knowledge of Chimera weaponry. As soon as you gain your first advanced firearm, you start picking off Chimera like a pro.
The weaponry that you are given sets this game apart from the rest of the genre. The pure amount of guns and grenades that you have to shove down the Chimeras’ throats is truly amazing. Of course, there is the standard kit of an assault rifle and grenade launcher attachment and a double-barreled shotgun, but the real fun comes from the Chimera weapons. The Chimera grunts have, as standard, the bullseye. This acts like an Uzi and fires off rapid plasma bolts - which means that it is inaccurate at a range but destructive when close-up. But like all weapons, there is a trick to using it. With a press of the L1 button you can tag your enemies and have your rapid spray of bullets home in on any unfortunate target you wish. Also in the impressive repertoire are the hedgehog and air-fuel grenades. The hedgehog basically fires out deadly quills that will kill any enemies in range, and the air-fuel sticks to any surface and vents out a gas that can fill a corridor, emitting a kettle-like whistle, then a roar of flame as the primer sets the gas alight. These packages of fun are most effective against groups of Chimera for a takedown with little kerfuffle. But the best weapon is most definitely the sniper rifle. Pressing the L1 button allows you to enter a focus mode, not unlike the mode in Enter The Matrix, where everything slows down to enable you to get the perfect headshot. Another great thing is that once you have completed the game there are still more weapons to collect in the second run-through.
In addition to the array of weapons is the selection of Chimera to use them on, each of these Chimera needs a change in your tactics to take them down. Here are just some of the types of aliens you will encounter. The most common Chimera are the Hybrids. These Chimera will be the ones that you come across most. They are part human and will act in different ways. Some may take cover or work as a team to take you out of the picture. Another type is the Slipskulls. These creatures are more like Venom from Spider-Man, and they can leap from wall to wall, sticking to them as well. This makes them hard as nails to kill. The next sort of fiend is the Menials. These beasts have no weapons and just charge at you, tearing at your throat. The only way in which to knock them off is to shake the pad.
The gameplay has the usual division of foot and vehicle play. In the later sections of Resistance, vehicle play is punctuated throughout. The vehicle play works well with a variety of vehicles for you to drive. You have a jeep that is mounted with a machine gun turret for a comrade to lay down the law with. You also have a heavyweight tank to clear a slick path through the streets. Finally, you have the Stalker, which is a Spider-like tank looking like a hybrid between ED-209 from Robocop and a giant spider. Unfortunately, vehicle sections don’t bring anything new to the proceedings.
On foot is where things really take off, giving you the feel of heated combat. You do wish that you had more moves to make, like a roll or blind fire, but the way in which the battles are fought gives you no need for them.
The controls feel very easy to use with simple R1 and L1 clicks to fire off your weapons. The grenades are mapped to the square button and allow for quick use when needed. The weapons-select is something to get the hang of. With it mapped to the R2, you have to hold the button down and using the left stick, point at the weapon you wish to use. But the rest of the control mapping feels settled, and after a few hours you will be flipping up menus with a slight tap.
The online play for Resistance is some of the most robust on a PlayStation console, especially impressive for a launch game. You have a selection of five different modes to choose from, and each has its own charm. First you have the normal FPS modes, Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, along with the team versions. These game modes play out in the normal way, with no great difference or originality. The other three modes are somewhat another story; we have Conversion, Breach and Meltdown. Conversion sets you up with two lives. You start the match as a human, but if you are killed you will start your next life as a Chimera. The objective is for you to survive the longest. Breach is very similar to some games of Assault in other FPS titles. This is a team game, and your basic objective is to destroy the other team’s base. But to make it harder for you, you can upgrade your base’s defenses by converting nodes over to your base, powering all manner of defenses from turrets to metal shields. The final game mode is Meltdown. In this mode your aim is to make the other team’s reactor go into meltdown. To do this you need to capture enough nodes on the map. Once enough have been captured, the meltdown will start. Online play is very impressive for a launch title, boasting 40 player matches and no lag!
However, although Resistance heralds some beautiful set-pieces and is packed full of action, the story doesn’t flow very well. After each level a narrative will jump in and explain a new series of events that lead you into the next level, but a lot of the what and why this is happening is left out. This leaves you feeling very awkward toward the characters, never really feeling for them. This is underlined by the stony silence of Hale; you never find yourself warming up to him, even in the last few hours for the game.
Each location that you move on to is horribly nondescript at times, feeling more and more like a standard arena with a bit of the Union Jack splashed over it. The towns and cities are hardly recognizable, except London, only saved by the landmarks and Cheddar Gorge, which is remarkably well-detailed with the small villages and towns around the attraction defined surprisingly well.
As you complete each level, there is a slight glimmer of achievement in the levels, but most victories for your one-man army feel hollow and empty. The cut-scenes loosely tie up storylines but still manage to make you feel confused at times as to what is going on.
All in all, Resistance: Fall of Man is one of the best launch games seen on a platform. For a first attempt at a First-person Shooter, Insomniac has produced a truly excellent and polished affair. Resistance should have pride of place next to your new machine come launch day.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.