Resistance 3 Review
Games today aren’t really balanced. They’re generally really good in a few ways, and equally terrible in a few others. Insomniac Games is one of the few developers that in the past has never compromised. Their games have consistently been well-rounded and able to stand on their own two legs in any way. The company’s reputation is solid as a rock, and just as colorful too. Resistance 3 is the first major stain on their record.
After shucking protagonist Nathan Hale from the series – the worst mistake Insomniac could have ever made – players take the role of his killer, Joe Capelli. The nonsensical tale takes place five years after Resistance 2 left off with Capelli dishonorably discharged for the murder and defending a town in the middle of nowhere after trying to put the past behind him. A past, mind you, which is catching up on humanity. A little thing called the Chimeran Army is very quickly turning homosapiens into homo-extinctus.
Starting the campaign, players find themselves immediately immersed in a visceral and believable post-apocolyptic world. Capelli wakes up to his wife by lantern, their son feverish, the house in which they reside in ruins. Downstairs a father plays red hands with his son. An old woman knits a sweater for Capelli’s child. A man tells his friend that his wife is pregnant, but that the town can’t afford another mouth to feed. It’s a touching scene, and everything about it is heartwarming and real and makes players feel. My heart twisted at the sight. It was all put together so perfectly, not just cinematically, but visually with exquisite graphics, through a superb soundtrack, and excellent animations.
But put a gun in Capelli’s hands and that realism goes caput. Realism isn’t just forgotten – Insomniac practically made the opening scene just to tell players “Alright, stop caring about the game…now“. A Chimeran scout team starts decimating the town, and Capelli singlehandedly ensures the town’s safety. Dr. Malakov from past games abruptly appears and begs Capelli for help, and after being refused Capelli’s wife asks him to do it just once, just like that, Capelli agrees. One goodbye, one last look at the only thing the man loves, and Joe Capelli races off on an adventure he clearly doesn’t care about, with a man he hates, for a country and society he would rather let die.
Yeah, that makes perfect sense.
When a developer ignore basic game principles, like how characters don’t just do things completely out of their nature because someone says please, then more rules must have been broken somewhere. That’s why Resistance 3 is only a triumph from a technical standpoint. It’s a visual stunner. Gameplay and flow are in perfect harmony. But behind the programming magic is the festering apathetic attitude that leaks into every aspect of the game. Like how Resistance 3 requires a massive update even before the long and required game installation. Or how any death results in spawning in a completely different location from the save point, with a completely clean slate. Or how Capelli never speaks in-game, even when asked a direct question, but talks in every single cutscene. I could go on and on.
This wasn’t unexpected from the Burbank-based developer. Their famed Ratchet & Clank franchise does a much better job of capturing the player’s heart through a strong protagonist, smart sidekick and a witty supporting cast, but the darker Resistance franchise has always been lackluster. The reliance on Nathan Hale’s super-human abilities helped manage his million-mile-stare attitude, but Capelli is just a regular Joe. Even then, the series has always rested solely on the gameplay, but after five years it doesn’t have the same charm it did when the PS3 released.
The short campaign – only six hours – has gameplay that’s equivalent to an RPG grind session. There’s no wow factor, nothing special nor memorable, and no satisfaction for completing it. It’s nothing more than a timesuck, a movie that you walk out of thinking only, “oh look at the time.” The cooperative campaign, much like Resistance 2, offers a separate story but without 8-players. Back to the standard two, with splitscreen.
Multiplayer is restricted to those who purchased the game new and activate it through PSN. Mortal Kombat did the exact same thing to make sure everyone pays to play. So if you rent the game, be prepared to pay, though the Resistance 3 beta was in effect for so long that there can’t be any PS3 owners who haven’t tried it. However, for the purposes of this review because I didn’t exclusively play multiplayer from the full version of the game, the score is solely for the campaign.
Move and 3D are also supported by Resistance 3, but I tested neither because I don’t own a 3DTV and because Sony has adamantly refused to give journalists Move controllers.
Resistance 3 is a drab shooter with dull gameplay and no compelling reason to play it. It’s great in every other way. Insomniac Games is clearly an excellent developer, but the company’s outright refusal to connect with players through their games will continue keep the company’s titles forgettable and boring. The Resistance franchise is bursting from the seams, waiting to be explored. If only Insomniac were interested in exploring it.