Earth is in total disarray, with 90 percent of the human race dead or turned into Chimera. The survivors have either gone underground and tried to build new communities or stayed in their infested towns fighting off Chimeran attacks. The United States has collapsed into darkness.
Insomniac Games took a big risk by killing off Nathan Hale at the end of 2008’s Resistance 2. Hale was the face of the PlayStation 3’s exclusive first-person shooter. With Hale gone, players take control of Joseph Capelli in Resistance 3, a former squad member of Hale’s and the man who killed him.
Capelli is an entirely different character than he was in Resistance 2. He’s not the loud mouthed, meat-head he was from the previous game. He was dishonorably discharged from the military for killing Hale. Now he’s mellowed out, married and has a sick young boy to care for. His priority isn’t saving the world but protecting his family and small community in Haven, Okla. That all changes when the Chimera discover the Oklahoma town in 1957.
Groups of Chimera called death squads are roaming cities and small towns to kill any remaining survivors. They’re no longer converting humans into Chimera. Now their only goal is to annihilate the human race and fully take over the planet. They’re transforming Earth to create a colder climate suitable for their living. Capelli must go to New York with Dr. Malikov to stop the transformation. Only the two men have the knowledge and power to front one last resistance.
Unfortunately before you can even start playing there’s a massive game update that supposedly fixes many problems from the multiplayer beta. Version 1.01 was a 656 MB download that took me 45 minutes to complete. Version 1.02 was a 676 MB download that took around 40 minutes. These two were only a few days between each during the game’s first week of release. Since then two more patches have come out, each around 20 MB. New players have to download 3 different updates before they can play the game.
Once you get past the ridiculous patch, there’s also a mandatory in-game install that takes more than 10 minutes. Be prepared to stare at a blank screen for more than an hour before you can finally play the game you spent more than $60 on. Resistance 3 is the definite example of developer’s abusing day-one patches and why the PS3 is the least user-friendly system on the market.
What Resistance 3 does so well is instill utter hopelessness in the player. Not the hopelessness of waiting for the game’s patch to finish downloading, but the feeling that Capelli and the human race are doomed to extinction.
Survival is the only goal, but it might not be possible this time around. A priest tells Capelli, “These are dark times, friend.” Small groups of human militias attempt to keep their communities safe but are overwhelmed by the challenge. Towns are eerily empty except for the Grims or death squads roaming the streets. The entire city of St. Louis is abandoned. Resistance 3 has a Wild West aura to it. Civilization has been destroyed and man is back in the state of nature. There’s nowhere for anyone to escape to. When death squads are approaching their location, one man asks, “Should be run?” His friend answers, “Run? Where to?”
In Resistance 3 there’s much more focus on the personal stories and hardships of the regular person. This isn’t another military bravado tale. The only time you encounter military personnel is when you discover their dead bodies among the destruction. Even Capelli has seemingly rejected his military past. The NPC characters in the game are depressed and defeated. They attempt to live out a sense of normalcy but fear and paranoia make this impossible. Each person does something in the background, whether it be knitting, cleaning or shaking uncontrollably in their bed. The NPCs contribute to the game’s excellent atmosphere by creating a deep sense of restless anxiety.
Throughout the game a radio host gives updates of people from around the world fighting the Chimera. A bond is established with other militias through these radio sessions. One woman in Indiana puts out an announcement for her missing six-year-old daughter. In the next update a man says the young girl is safe with his community. While the host tries to give hope to the scattered, eventually even his positivity falters as he realizes the situation might be too great to overcome. In the environment there’s signs to encourage not only the game’s world but the player too. One says, “If your hope dies, so do we. Keep praying for victory!” Whatever hope and positivity is created doesn’t last long because immediately something terrible will happen.
The game is the darkest and grittiest in the series, with cursing and gory violence. While playing you feel like this really is mankind’s last stand. The campaign lives up to the game’s title. This is due in large part to the game’s phenomenal soundtrack. The music is definitely one of the best this generation. The music adds so much emotion to conversations, explorations and battles. Each area and important scene has a distinct musical layer to it. Sentimental and gloomy music hits as you inch toward the final area in New York, exemplifying the miserably enormous challenge awaiting Capelli and the longing he has for his family.
Know Your Enemy
The Chimera are smarter and more aggressive this time around. The Hybrid military Chimera are the most common enemy in the game. They come packed with their Bulleye weapon and are usually with a full squad. Some Chimera have hovering shields that need to be destroyed before you can damage them. Grims, former humans that have been wound in cocoons and transformed to animal-like Chimera, return this game and are as annoying as ever. They come in overwhelming rabid packs, forcing you to unload all your weapon’s ammo on just a single group. Besides ground troops, there’s also large robotic Chimera like the Stalkers to wreak havoc. The Stalkers can shoot missiles and turret fire as its protected by a large shield covering.
Resistance 3 introduces a few new enemies. “Longlegs” look exactly like the name implies. They can move rapidly around the environment, jumping from rooftops at lightning speed. The “Brawler” is a huge creature that can pound you into oblivion. Feral Chimera are part of the race that have evolved away from the Chimeran hive mind. The Grims are now considered feral and are stronger than before. An enemy from the series called the Widowmaker has changed into a massive Chimeran spider-like creature, which roams in packs on the open land. The Feral creatures are all over the cities and towns, occupying the space people once did. The feral are not only hostile to humans but will attack the military Chimera too. It’s interesting to see this rigid divide within the Chimera, especially during areas with lots of action taking place.
The Chimera also have designated snipers and rocket launchers. Both of these types of Chimera can go invisible and blend in well to the environment. The rocket launchers are really annoying because they’re often difficult to kill and you have no place to hide from the blast. Later in the game Longlegs will join the sniper ranks. These pose a challenge because they move so quick while also sniping you. There’s not a lot of enemy variety in the game, but the environments and different types of battles keeps things fresh.
The wheel weapon menu from the original Resistance returns. Capelli can hold many weapons at the same time, unlike in Resistance 2. Classic weapons like the Bulleye, Rossmore shotgun, Auger and .44 Magnum are back in full force. Oddly you don’t get the Carbine until much later in Resistance 3, which was always the beginning weapon in the previous two games. There’s a few new weapons to choose from, like the Mutator, which can infect enemies with the Chimera virus and cause them to become explosive. Others like the Atomizer shoots rapid electricity charges, while the Cryogun can freeze enemies, allowing them to be smashed to pieces. Each gun also has its own secondary ability, like deploying small turrets or a protective shield. There’s four grenade types. They can penetrate shields, set enemies on fire or do explosive damage.
Through continual use a weapon can be leveled up. Each gun can be leveled up three times. With each new level the weapon gets an upgrade. For example, the shotgun gets a perk where its standard fire sets the enemy in flames. The Marksman rifle receives a zoom function at level two. The Deadeye sniper will highlight an enemy’s head as you zoom in when it increases level. This encourages you to keep using all the weapons and gives them new life throughout the campaign.
Every gun will be in rotation at some point in the game. You’ll need to mix them up to stay ahead of the Chimera. Certain weapons are tailor-made for specific enemies. The Bullseye can follow the Longlegs while they bounce around the area. The shotgun is perfect for the close-range attacks of the Grims. The Marksman works well against long-range enemies. Resistance 3’s weapons are enjoyable to use and are still a highlight of the franchise.
Fight to Survive
You don’t need to play the two previous games to fully enjoy Resistance 3. It’s almost like a stand-alone title. Capelli is the perfect replacement for Hale. His pain and longing for his wife and child can easily be related to and makes him more human. Resistance 3 keeps escalating in intensity as you travel along the East Coast. There’s 20 chapters in the campaign. Capelli moves through locations like St. Louis and Pennsylvania to reach New York. Each area has its own unique feel and atmosphere.
One town that used to be along the Mississippi River is now apart of it. There’s nothing left but Grims on the rooftops and haunting Christmas ornaments on street lamps and storefronts. There’s one area in a forest as you march towards a train during the night. This section is fantastic. Chimeran drop ships search for you, shining their lights into the darkness. Snipers surround you on the nearby hill tops. The game does a wonderful job of shading and lighting here. The music sounds like war drums beating and it really feels as if you’re being hunted down like an animal.
The environments also add to that futility emotion of the campaign. Destroyed homes with vintage family photos and mementos are covered in filth. A religious town clings to God while Hell manifests in their former homes, stores and church. One particular section at a Pennsylvania prison makes you seriously wonder if humanity is even worth saving at all. Bodies hang from the ceiling and the kitchen’s cooking supplies are barbaric. Written on a wall inside the prison is the exclamation that, “GOD IS DEAD,” showing the loss of mankind’s faith caused by the atrocities around them. The prison chapters are an excellent contrast to the downtrodden and courageous way most of the survivors are presented.
The game is constantly throwing battles at you. The pacing of the campaign is well done. You don’t get a breather. There’s no regenerating health like in most other shooters. Resistance 3 takes after the Fall of Man style of gameplay. This works well because it makes you feel even more helpless and increases the intensity of the battles. You have to be crafty in your strategy. Ammo will run low and desperation will kick in. There’s plenty of health scattered around the level so you won’t die often.
The gameplay relates back to the mood put on the player. You are only one man against hundreds of Chimeran forces. When you finally get to New York you feel Capelli’s suffocating exhaustion and suffering. Relentless Stalkers, enormous Goliaths, snipers and an army of Chimera await you. How can one man defeat all these enemies?
While Resistance 2 featured enormous boss fights in places like Chicago among its skyscrapers, nothing in Resistance 3 comes close to that magnitude. Instead there are lots of scenes of mass hysteria on a smaller scale. These actually work better than the crazy monster designs of the last game because it creates a more urban warfare feel to this campaign. The fights in New York are just insanely intense because there’s just so many enemies in each little section. The only real problem I had with the combat is that in New York the environment is filled with snow, but when you’re near death the screen goes white. This screws up the gameplay and makes it harder to survive because you can barely see anything.
Text and audio journals can be discovered throughout the campaign that detail people’s experiences and give more details about the Chimera. Many times the journals are placed in really weird spots though. One journal is placed in a part of the prison that supposedly no one survived in. Specifically the journal is in one of the area’s last rooms where dozens of Grims attack you, so I have no idea how that person managed to leave it there. Another is from a character that you part ways with before going to the next state, yet their journal is in one of the first destroyed apartments you come across. There’s no dates on the journals either, which would’ve helped give a sense of time.
While the campaign does a phenomenal job of drawing players in, some of the narrative is poorly done. Most of the time there’s really poor transitions from one major area to the next. It seems like these transitional cut-scenes are missing parts to them. Like the journals, there’s also no sense of time throughout Capelli’s movements. How long has he been traveling and fighting? After one area Capelli winds up in New York, but the game doesn’t tell you what he did on the long journey. Halfway through the game Capelli has a ugly premonition about his family but this is never followed up at all. Considering the campaign can be finished in 6-8 hours, there’s no reason to have some of these laps in the storytelling. An additional cut-scene or an extension of one could have made the sections flow together better.