Insomniac Games delivers the second Resistance just two years after the PlayStation 3 launched with the original, armed with a full clip of marketable bullet points.
Online multiplayer with up to sixty people, an extensive eight-player cooperative campaign, bigger polygon counts, more massive enemies and a world-spanning adventure all add up to the epic, but succinctly named Resistance 2. Set just a few years after the events of Resistance: Fall of Man, the sequel continues right where the first left off, dropping what didn't work and largely improving upon what did.
Did we give in to our primal urges for Resistance 2? Or did we put up a fight?
Massive Scale, Perfectly Paced: Nathan Hale is quite the jet setter in Resistance 2, traveling to and from exotic locales like the Air Force Bases of Iceland to the small logging towns of California. The scope of R2 never fails to impress, with bigger than ever Chimera and retro sci-fi settings rarely explored in other first-person shooters. Awesome early set pieces set the hectic pace appropriately. We wish Insomniac hadn't shown the San Francisco invasion ahead of time, as the sheer size of the invading fleet would have been even more awe-inspiring.
New Weapons, New Enemies: Now limited to just two weapons at a time, Hale's arsenal gets upgraded with some great new gimmicks, including the shield-generating Wraith chain-gun and the ridiculous, saw blade-shooting Splicer. As a whole, weapons lack a sense of weight or punch, but that doesn't detract from the joy of amputating hordes of Grims. That new addition to the Chimeran bestiary is the most enjoyable to dispatch, just one of many that feels shamelessly lifted from recent Hollywood sci-fi flicks.
Cooperative: Eight-player co-op is what will keep you coming back to Resistance 2. The class variety, the leveling, the unlockable goodies, the constant drip-feed of experience points — it all adds up to an addicting experience that we've really just begun to scratch the surface of. Hardcore Resistance fans may be disappointed to see a leaner multiplayer offering, but the cooperative mode, with its interesting unique classes will ease the pain.
Competitive: Standard stuff, with the exception of the constantly changing Skirmish mode, which switches from assassination to capture point to team death match modes on the fly. Getting in and out of multiplayer games and tracking your stats is beautifully user-friendly. Insomniac does right by its fans with a well designed community portal for tracking your, as advertised, 420 hours plus of progression.
Campaign: My slog through Resistance 2's weakest "C" took but nine hours to complete, but it felt like an eternal sludge of predictable Chimeran assaults with all
eight six eyes on me and me alone. The majority of the boss fights weren't just forgettable, they were the sort of thing I couldn't wait to forget. Yes, they're big and often loaded with tension, but they're also incredibly trying and sometimes ambiguous in their objectives. Much of the single-player campaign just felt like swimming through a sea of gunfire, ambush after ambush held together by a vanilla story.
Cheap Deaths: The cloaked Chameleons aren't the worst of Resistance 2's sins of cheap deaths. You'll eventually learn where they spawn after a few die and retry attempts. It's the lame, one-hit kill Fury that live under bulletproof water and the slaps from the Leviathan that made me go berzerk. There are few things more personally loathsome than first-person platforming and gotcha, how-could-I-have-possibly-seen-that-coming kills. After blowing through the first Resistance with relative ease, dying 136 times in the sequel left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.
Wonky Physics, Inconsistent Presentation: There are plenty of things, aesthetically, that Insomniac nails with Resistance 2. Bizarre physics — did that Chimeran soldier really just launch skyward after being sniped in the face? How long will that LAARK bounce around the room? — and the occasionally dull environment aren't quite highlights.
If anything, Resistance 2 could be pitched as the holiday shooter that's "bigger, better and more bad-ass." Everything has been upped for the sequel, with a workable 60-person multiplayer option, a ton of fan service for the Resistance enthusiast and a co-op mode that's not only fun as hell, but fleshes out the core story line. The intel collect-a-thons certainly aren't my thing, nor is trying to piece together all the disparate plot points, but the hardcore Resistance fan has been very well taken care of. It may be that the novelty of a sci-fi shooter set in the mid-twentieth century has worn off a bit and that the game looks a bit underwhelming in light of the competition, but I actually recall enjoying the first a bit more.
Given the depth of Resistance 2's multiplayer and co-op though, those first nine hours spent chugging through the single-player campaign will probably be forgotten in favor of fondly remembering the entire experience.
Resistance 2 was developed by Insomniac Games, published by Sony Computer Entertainment America and released on Nov. 4 for PlayStation 3. Retails for $59.99 USD. Completed single-player campaign, tested 8-player coop, and multiplayer modes.
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