The first Resistance game marked a fairly successful departure for Insomniac from their usual puzzle-platformer franchises of Spyro the Dragon and Ratchet & Clank. Set in an alternate World War II history, British and American troops face a far worse enemy than the Nazis: an alien-like invading force known as the Chimera. Two years after the events of that game, Resistance 2 once again finds players in the shoes of Sgt., now Lt., Nathan Hale continuing the fight against the ever-growing Chimera threat. While the first game allowed two players to team up locally and battle their way through the story campaign (a feature that is unfortunately missing in this iteration), the sequel features a totally unique on-line co-op campaign where up to eight players can join in the fight. The result is something of a mix between a World of Warcraft raid, Call of Duty 4’s multiplayer experience leveling system, and, regrettably, monster closets.
For the co-op campaign, players assume the role of one of the three different classes: soldier, medic, or special ops. Players that are fans of the MMORPG genre of games will feel right at home with this particular dynamic. Just as in those on-line games, the soldier acts as the front line defenders using their shields to absorb the incoming fire of the Chimera; medics keep the players healed by using their Phoenix guns, which take the life from enemies and gives it to their teammates; and the special ops dish out the damage while providing the other players with ammo for their weapons. These roles are very clear-cut and have to be followed fairly closely if a group wants to clear a map. While this kind of forced team play might be hampering for some, as it certainly doesn’t allow much room for trying new things, I didn’t mind as it brought me back to the days of going on raids with my WoW guild. There are even huge bosses that require the group to work together in order to take down. Unlike WoW, though, if you end up with too many healers and not enough tanks, Resistance 2 lets the player change his or her class the next time they die and respawn. This is a very good feature to have as a lot of players are content with being the trigger-happy special ops class.
Similar to Call of Duty 4, players gain experience for actions taken, such as shooting/killing enemies, completing objectives, absorbing damage with the shield, healing allies, providing allies with ammo, etc. Once you gain enough experience in a certain class, that class levels up and gains access to new weapons and abilities. Written down, Resistance 2’s co-op mode sounds great, and when you play it, it is definitely engaging and fun… at least, for the first few hours. After that, however, things start to break down.
One of the biggest problems I have with Resistance 2’s co-op mode is the lack of any reasonable AI on the part of the enemies, and the easily identifiable spawn locations. It’s the tired old case of “pull a switch and enemies appear.” This would be fine if it happened only a couple of times per map, but it happens for every single map so they all start to feel like the same thing with a new palette swap. As far as the AI goes, don’t be surprised when a wave of enemies just runs at you shooting until either you’ve killed them or they’ve killed you. After that wave is done, prepare for the next wave that will play out much like the first. There are a couple of spots where it might seem like the enemies are flanking your group, but don’t be fooled. The enemies just spawned on either side of you and are running at you from both directions. The absolute worst offense I saw while playing was during one of the “boss fights.” The boss was separated from our group around the corner of a wall. If it had moved a few feet forward and turned left, it could have easily wiped us out. Instead, it just stood on the other side of the wall while we slowly picked it off.
The second issue with the co-op mode is that it all starts to feel the same. Instead of battling through a complete campaign with an overarching story and unique/different objectives to complete in each level, you choose one of six different maps that have different backgrounds, but the same goals and objectives to complete each time (i.e., run over there, pull a switch, run back over here, toggle a button, fight a boss, repeat). Any kind of story element is presented as a wall of text to read through while the map is loading. Thus, the co-op campaign plays out less like a complete, coherent story that you and your friends are tackling together, and more like a typical FPS multiplayer game with a kind of fun co-op system.
The cover art to Resistance 2 is split, with Lt. Nathan Hale standing in front of a semi-picturesque 1950s style diner and gas station on top, and a Chimera standing in front of the same scene, only destroyed by war, on the bottom. I found this depiction fairly symbolic of what Resistance 2’s co-op mode is like: ideal and fun one minute, horrifying the next. What’s really good about the co-op campaign mode is the way in which the three classes need to work together in order to achieve the goals of the map. The leveling system adds a certain RPG element that makes repeat playing almost an obsession, and matches are quick and easy to start. It’s fun, but what doesn’t work is just about everything else: from the enemy AI and repetitive objectives, to the network and local co-op issues that have been recently reported. Hopefully some of these flaws will be fixed through a patch, but until then, Resistance 2 stands less as a giant amongst co-op games, and more of an average Joe.