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By Ryan Noik 12 September 2011

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A superb shooter with polished action and a compelling story
9.5    Gameplay
8.5    Story
9.5    Presentation
8.5    Lasting appeal
4.5

You know a game is going to be compelling when a prolific author of action adventure novels like James Rollins confesses quite publicly to taking a break from writing books to play it, and Resistance 3 certainly grabs you from the get go. The game begins with a world that is teetering on the brink of its own end. You play as Joseph Capelli, trying to rebuild your life four years after the events of the first two titles, which are skilfully depicted on the game’s installation screen.

Without giving too much away, Capelli, who wants nothing more than to stay with his wife and child, is instead asked to cross the ravaged country to New York, and stop the Chimera from opening a wormhole that is freezing the planet and, if left unchecked, will spell humanity’s end.

Capelli is entirely human and his reactions and concerns are thoroughly plausible. He doesn’t want to be a hero, nor is he a super-soldier whose heart is harder than his armour and who remains pathologically unfazed by the events around him. This only adds to the believability of the story and enabled us to identify with, and care about the characters, and dare we say, become invested in the game’s continued unfoldment.

 
Capelli's primary concern at the beginning of the game is his wife and child.
 
 No safe Haven

The sense of rebuilding amid the ruins echoes through the opening environments, which are dotted by shelters and homes built amid the rumble, with children drawing on bombed out walls. Even your weapons look and feel like they have been somewhat crudely bolted together and made out of what could be salvaged.A particularly interesting choice of the opening setting was that of Oklahoma, the American heartland, in a town called Haven, complete with an ice cream shop that becomes essential to your survival in the game’s first few moments. This also gave the developer, Insomniac Games,  the opportunity to take advantage of the American Midwest's notoriously tempestuous weather, which they use to masterful effect and only adds to the overall moodiness of the story’s initial impression.

Danger ahead

After a brief introduction to a couple of ‘old friends’ named ‘Magnum’ and ‘Bullseye’, the temporary peace is replaced with a whispered urgency and building suspense.This growing sense of danger just around the next corner, which is a familiar element of the Resistance franchise, quickly erupts into an equally well-known frantic battle for survival, and immediately drew us further into the game's bleak but arresting world.

The game, which has a distinctive War of the Worlds vibe, moves at breakneck speed from one heart pounding escapade or battle to the next, including trying to outrun a drop-ship that spat fire and vomited enemies as buildings imploded around us; battling numerous aliens as hurricane-like winds roared around us; and desperately holding off waves of Grims while fleeing from a Goliath as our boat slowly disintegrated.
 
The Chimera are still fearsome foes - and badly in need of some serious dental work.

Often outnumbered, never unarmed

Although the Chimera are still a force to be reckoned with, players have more than a few deadly toys to deal with them.The trusty Bullseye features the familiar tagging alternative fire as before, while the Magnum’s alternative fire consists of explosive rounds that can be detonated at opportune moments to deadly effect.These are quickly supplanted with EMP grenades to handle enemy shields, scrap metal grenades to deal with groups of enemies and the Chimeran Hedgehog, that we hated running into but loved deploying. This is joined by the welcome and early return of the Augur, which enables players to see and shoot through walls, while its alternative fire provided a handy and often essential shield against all enemy gunfire except other Augur bolts. Also worth mentioning was the long range Marksman rifle, which quickly became a firm favourite, as well as the Rossman, a shotgun that could launch concussion grenades.

These were but a taste of weapons on offer, as half the fun is progressing through the game and finding the next best way to deal damage. Indeed, Insomniac’s proficiency with crafting enjoyable, innovative weapons shines brightly in Resistance 3, and while not as over the top as in the upcoming next instalment of its other franchise, Ratchet and Clank, were still immensely satisfying to use.

Another feature borrowed from that franchise is the organic development of the weapons, which become more powerful and deadly the more they are used. This adds a level of strategy to the game, since various battles often require a combination of particular weapons to triumph. Which weapons you invest the most time into will effect which weapons become the most powerful in your arsenal.  Additionally, weapons are selected through a handy weapon wheel, while your previous weapon is never more than a single button press away.

Production Values

It seems somewhat superfluous to talk about the crisp, hyper-real graphics, or the exquisite detail rendered on everything from the burnt out cars to the sunbathed cornfields to the shimmering water. It is equally as obvious that by the third instalment, the sound is going to be top notch and the gameplay controls are going to be as smooth as butter, which they are. Mentioning that Resistance 3 is frequently nail-biting and consistently compelling is like remarking that a Michael Bay movie has tons of explosions and vapid stars in the leading role.

More importantly, the graphics, the sound and the gameplay act as the supporting cast to Resistance 3’s storytelling, which was enhanced with audio logs of survivors and those fighting against the Chimera, as well as several poignant letters scattered through the game's world. The synergy of all of the above kept our hands firmly glued to our controller. In many ways, playing Resistance 3 felt like playing the promise of what War of the Worlds could have been had the lead character been Joseph Capelli instead of Tom Cruise.
  
From the buildings to the environments and enemies, production values are as high
as the enemies are huge.

With enemies like these, you need friends (and ammo)

Equally relevant in a game that deals with surviving a harsh onslaught are the enemies. In Resistance 3, there is quite a variety of Chimeran threats to deal with and take down. From Chimeran soldiers and Longlegs, to Hybrids and Grims and the fearsome Brawler and Ravager, each necessitated full use of all the weapons at our disposal, and both ammo and health were resources that we always looked for when we had the chance. In fact, we found that each enemy could best be dealt with by concentrating on a particular weapon or combination of weapons.

However, the single player campaign, as gripping as it is, is only part of the Resistance 3 experience. The game offers solid and somewhat addictive multiplayer as well. Unfortunately, the multiplayer campaign does require an initial download and installation of a hefty 670 MB patch before you can get underway.

Once you do though, multiplayer has a variety to offer, with match options that include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch (human vs chimera, and one of our personal favourites), Wargames, Capture the Flag, Breach – where the attacking team has to destroy the defensive team’s reactor – and Chain Reaction, where players work as a team to capture several locations to open or collapse the wormhole. Most of the maps, which we found to be sumptuously detailed and a pleasure to scramble our way through, support up to sixteen players at a time, which is enough to make for some frantic and challenging battles. The sense of progression bleeds over into multiplayer as well, as levelling up with the experience points earned during the numerous modes on offer enable one  to unlock a variety of skins and abilities.

Each match begins by offering you the chance to choose your primary weapon and grenades as well as special abilities - such as doppelganger, which creates a decoy (and which we found particularly useful), and ammo beacon, which deploys a beacon to replenish the ammo for one’s primary weapon. Players can further elect to join a matchmaking game or start and host own of their own. Additionally, online and offline cooperative play is also available via split screen. These options further extend the game’s longevity long after one has completed the single player campaign.
  
Beyond the single campaign, multiplayer awaits.
 
To the point

Simply put, Resistance 3 is one of those games that begs to be played if you have the slightest interest in sci-fi, in action or in top-notch entertainment. It’s the kind of game that prompts best-selling action-adventure authors to stop writing in favour of playing, and we can’t think of a better endorsement or higher praise than that. In the final analysis, if you are a lover of action games or first person shooters, resistance is futile because Resistance (3) is fantastic.

PROS

Excellent storytelling
Innovative weapons
Varied enemies and environments

CONS

Hefty patch required for multiplayer
PROS
Excellent storytelling, Innovative weapons, Varied enemies and environments
CONS
Hefty patch required for multiplayer
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