My urge to play Resistance 3 hit full steam after watching Battle For Los Angeles on a plane ride back from PAX 2011. No, it wasn’t because the game was actually advertised on a billboard inside the movie, it was, it was the thematic similarities between the two that fueled my urge. Aliens are invading OUR home, they’ve taken to OUR streets and OUR towns and systematically wiping out the human race. It’s incredibly similar in both the game and movie, but while Battle for LA is all modern day, it’s Resistance 3 that does this theme in style by taking the setting to an alternate 1950s.
The entire first level of Resistance 3 takes place in Oklahoma, you take the role of Joseph Capelli, father and husband, 5 years removed from the soldier he is and the events of Resistance 2. Oklahoma might not seem like a good setting for a sci-fi shooter, but in reality, it’s perhaps the most interesting shooter experience I’ve had in years thanks to impressive visuals and a warm color palette. Your journey will take you through various small towns like this, all with their own distinct look and feel. Whether you are in the factories of St. Louis, riding the Mississippi River, or fighting Chimera mines of a Pennsylvannia town - you never really find yourself in a "traditional sci-fi shooter" environment until the end of the game.
I really want to hammer home that it’s these areas combined with some really stellar pacing that truly make Resistance 3 feel like a fresh shooter. And like any good shooter, you need good guns, thankfully Insomniac delivers on what they are best known for. Unique weapons like the Bullseye, a gun that tags enemies and auto fires machine gun bullets, make a return. But it’s the newer weapons like the Atomizer or Cryogun that really add to the fun. The Atomizer’s secondary fire launches a mini-black hole into the world is my personal favorite and is great when you suddenly find yourself overwhelmed by Chimera. Just by using a weapon you’ll earn XP for it, unlocking two additional levels of features for the gun. For instance the Marksman goes from iron sight aiming to an actual scope, and the shotgun’s damage adds fire to the mix. These weapon upgrades can even carry over to subsequent play throughs.
The other thing that really impressed me with Resistance 3 were the enemies. There's a solid variety of enemies and each one has unique strategies for bringing them down. Some guns work better against enemies, like the Bullseye against the the long leg jumpers. There's also numerous "boss battles" throughout the game with some particularly impressive in scale and tension. All of this is broken up between a variety of missions, including some on rails vehicle missions that involve a boat and a train.
Resistance 3 returns to the roots created by the first game for co-op, adding back a cooperative campaign. Player two will play his story as John and save for a few spots in the intro sequence, his presence isn’t acknowledged through the story. That doesn’t take away from the experience though - as with any good shooter - co-op creates plenty of "had to be there moments."
What’s great about the co-op in Resistance 3 is it’s flexibility, you can invite a friend at anytime through the menu for online co-op, or you can start up a split screen game and pick from one of your saves or restart from a certain level you’ve already completed. Like any good co-op game, progress is saved for BOTH players, so if you decide to finish the campaign on your own after joining a friend’s game, you can select the latest level completed and off you go. We tried to determine if there was any scaling going on in terms of number of enemies or difficulty, it seemed to be more difficult - I found we died more often in co-op, but numbers was I could never tell for certain. Luckily if you go down in co-op you can be revived, and even crawl towards your partner while you are down.
One thing to be aware of with Resistance 3 and its online co-op is - you’ll need to have an "online pass" to play it. This is included with new copies of the game, but if you rent the game or buy it pre-owned, you’ll need to fork over an additional $10 to have access to this online co-op mode. You can still enjoy the game in split-screen co-op, but if you bought the game and want to play with a friend who isn’t as willing to pick it up and would rather rent it - you’ll be out of luck. This really is a disconcerting trend in gaming, as more and more features are getting stripped away and put into an online pass system.
Now that the politics are out of the way, let’s wrap up the Resistance against he Chimera shall we?
After your single player and co-op you can hop online for a more traditional 16 player versus modes. It’s scaled down from the previous game’s 60 player matches, but frankly, I prefer the more intimate affairs. You’ve got some standard affair type modes going on here: deathmatch, team dm, etc - but there’s also variations of domination and other similar objective based modes. Again for these modes you’ll need to have an online pass.
Resistance 3 also supports the Sharpshooter, the gun like attachment for the PlayStation Move giving it a more arcade like shooting experience. It works and feels almost exactly like Killzone 3’s implementation of it, save for different button functions. For me, I still don’t enjoy extended experiences like this, but in short doses, it’s a fun distraction. It should be noted that you can’t play split-screen co-op using this, but you can play online.
Everything about Resistance 3 simply grabbed me - the characters, the plot twists, the look and feel of the levels. It was an incredibly solid first person shooter experience that left me completely satisfied. It wasn’t too long, it wasn’t too short, the weapons were interesting and the co-op added to the fun. This is by far the best game in the series.