Joeseph Capelli killed Nathan Hale. Dishonourably discharged, he leaves the service and finds happiness of a sort with his wife and child in a small community, mostly underground, hiding from the Chimera, eking out a living in warrens beneath an agricultural town. Naturally, it wouldn’t be an epic blockbuster first person shooter if something bad didn’t go down, which is to say, something worse than finding yourself living in a world where 90% of humanity has been killed or converted by an invading alien force.
An old friend, Dr. Malikov, shows up, bringing dire news and a host of Chimera bad guys nipping at his heels. During the evacuation, Malikov implores Joe to embark with him on a do-or-die mission to New York. As stern as a reluctant hero can be, Joe, like all men, is powerless beneath a solid guilt trip from his wife. If there’s any chance for their son to know a life with any kind of hope, he has to do something, and so the journey begins.
I’ve always enjoyed the setting itself more than the storytelling within, when it comes to Resistance. The stories, as it’s become evident, are discrete occurrences, the first game being narrated by the English character, the second about Nathan Hale’s return to his homeland, and the third, with an entirely different protagonist. That said, I found the story arc in R3 to be quite enjoyable. The journey of Joseph Capelli plays out a bit like one of those TV shows where the main character goes from town to town helping people. The ending doesn’t quite tie it off in a way that makes you glad you paid attention the entire time, but to do so would have come across as implausible and cliché at best, or a shark jumping event at worst. It’s a personal tale, unlike the prior stories of hardened military men without much backstory, and every character Joe meets on his travels does a good job of showing a little extra depth, as to how they exist in these hopeless times or what life was like before.
n such a crowded and competitive and crowded genre, R3 does a lot to stand out from the pack. The variety of environments that the fights get taken to is well-considered, and I never found myself getting bored of any of the locations; in fact, I look back on each one with fond memories of intense fire fights. From the rubble of the small town where Joe’s community hide beneath, to the snowy fields of New York as it undergoes terraforming, heated battles take place on a boat, a train, a cave complex, in an arena pit, and my personal favourite, a built up central urban area in St. Louis. All the locations look appropriately dilapidated and destroyed, and more importantly, they look dirty The lighting is another winner in the visual categories, and Insomniac shows it off early with the light poking through the cracks in the entrances to the underground complex.
The real winner, though the lighting is nice, is the weapons. Resistance 3 boasts 12 weapons, each with an alternate fire ability. What’s more, they all level up with the more you use them, increasing lethality, and flexibility. More importantly, it acts to encourage you to use weapons you might have otherwise stayed away from. I found myself even using weapons in situations where I wouldn’t have normally, sometimes with surprising success, and other times with unsurprising disaster. The weapons progression carries over once you reload, so there’s never any stress of checkpoint hunting for fear of losing the progress you made with a weapon. My favourites would probably be the Wildfire rocket launcher, which can fire a rocket that itself fires rockets into the ground (at level two,) the Mutator, a hand crafted human bio weapon that turns your enemies into living bombs, or the Marksman, which is basically a three-shot burst human assault rifle which feels really solid to use. Oh, and you can place turrets with it. The fact is, with the exception of the sledgehammer, they’re all creative and cool weapons which are fun to use, and become more so as you use them!
In multiple ways, Resistance 3 is a return to form, not only for the franchise, but for the genre. Resistance 2, while generally well received, copped some criticism for adopting a ‘me too’ stance by taking the popular two weapons maximum and forcing players to scavenge and swap as they could. Resistance 3, like the first game, lets you carry all the weapons you’ve picked up, and access them on a selection wheel. I’m not saying that one way is definitely better than the other, but it’s great to have something different, even if it is a throwback. Besides, with weapons this cool, it’s a total shame to ever have to drop one of them. Besides battles with bosses which have bright red weak points for you to shoot, the other return to form is that there’s no regenerating health. Green health packs are occasionally dropped by your vanquished enemies, but a lot of the time you’ll find them hidden away in a little nook, not uncommonly found with a small cache of ammunition. It’s surprising that finding health never seems very forced, given what the self-regenerating norm that we’ve become accustomed to, and it’s a testament to the design that I never pined for that, instead being harassed into a hidey hold and finding something to replenish myself and get straight back into the fight always felt exciting and fun.
The Bottom Line
Resistance 3 combines modern depth of narrative with old school shooter design elements to create something that feels fresh and new, even if it is set in the middle of the last century (with aliens.) Even if you’re not a fan of the series, Resistance 3 is well worth picking up for shooter fans itching for something new.