3WS – The Resistance trilogy

We’re halfway there. Yesterday (ten years ago) was the day when the PS3 launched in North America and with it came a bunch of games. Like with all launch lineups, not all of them were stellar obviously but I think we can agree that the one that stood out the most back in the day was an exclusive first person shooter called Resistance.
In due time, sequels of that game were also released including two on Sony’s handhelds; Resistance: Retribution for PSP and Resistance: Falling Skies on the Vita, but those are not the titles I’ll be talking about today. This 3-way showdown are for the mainline games, the ones that came up with a number on the title and for the PS3.

What are they?
The Resistance series is a FPS series (except for Retribution) set in an alternate universe where some sort of alien invasion took place in the 50’s and the struggles of mankind to fight back those invaders. The creators of this franchise were the great developer Insomniac games, better known for the Ratchet & Clank series. One of the staples in those platformer games were the inventive weapons that Ratchet would acquire and Insomniac decided to transplant that concept into the Resistance franchise as well even though the overall tone of the game was dark and gritty.

Its quirks
I pretty much gave up which is Resistance: Fall of man’s more relevant charactersistic, the selection of weapons. The game would introduce the player to them throughout the campaign and they would be carrying them all, being able to select them with a weapon wheel like in the R&C series. We got introduced to the Bullseye, a machinegun capable to lock into an enemy with some sort of beacon and then send all bullets to that very same point making those bullets able to curve in the air. We also had a rifle capable to shoot through solid objects or the hedgehog grenade which is as deadly as it sounds to name a few.
The novelty on Resistance 2 could be summarized in two aspects. A bigger scale on the encounters and a greater focus on multiplayer. The first one is regarding how much higher the stakes got in some portions of Resistance 2’s campaign. One of the set-pieces that was advertised was a bossfight against a leviathan chimera. A massive monster the size of a skycraper that you had to fight in the game. The fight itself wasn’t that fun gameplay-wise honestly, but it sure gave you the impression of playing a much bigger game.
On the other hand there’s the bump that the whole multiplayer section got. The original Resistance was capable of very healthy 40 player battles but in the sequel that number got lifted up to 60 making the game gain certain notoriety in the multiplayer scene. Another addition was the original Cooperative mode Insomniac included. Which instead of following the main campaign had its players forming squads of different character classes and roaming around the huge multiplayer maps acomplishing objectives while fighting against hordes of AI controlled chimera.
As for Resistance 3, the focus clearly went back to the single player portion of the game. The story was more focused and personal and you could really see the effort put handcrafting a much more compelling campaign.

The good parts
Looking in hindsight, the original Resistance was a launch game for Sony’s new console so it had to translate the new features of the PS3 into the game and it did pretty successfully. It offered gaming in HD which was a novelty ten years ago and a very sturdy online platform to showcase the PSN capabilities. Most people didn’t actually connect their PS2’s to play online but here there was this new console offering solid 40 player matches for everyone.
The improvements on Resistance 2 were exponential in some cases. The graphics were way prettier (even if they never were a staple in the genre), the levels were bigger, the enemies came in literal hordes and some of them were building-sized. Apart from that there’s the multiplayer which caught its higher popularity with this game. Having 60 player matches with 0 lag was quite a feat for a console game and, while I wasn’t that fond of the mode myself, the Coop in Resistance 2 became a fan favourite offering endless hours of chimera slaying action.
The direction in which the series was going took a turn as the third game in the series clearly focused on the single player and I’m glad to say that it was worth it. On the previous games the story was more like an average military shooter it was more about the setting, the whole chimera invasion and the army trying to fight back against it. While the story in this one is more personal. To match the story the gameplay portion also felt more personal, you were a lone fighter trying to survive in the heart of the chimera conquered lands. The game is filled with memorable set pieces (even if less bombastic than in R2) and I can say this is one of the best fps campaigns I’ve ever played.

The bad ones
The main problem with Resistance: Fall of man is that it is a 2006 game. The graphics are very dated by today’s standards and the “datedness” extends through all of the portions of the game. Even if the game was pretty good back in the day, fps have come a long way since then and the sense of immersion resents from that. Wandering through the british streets in the game no longer feels like the real deal but what they really are, artificial videogame levels.
Even though the graphics and the controls improved on the second one, the level design is still quite awkward in Resistance 2 which makes the experience feel very artificial. Furthermore, insomniac tried to COD-ify the franchise getting rid of the weapon wheel (also making health regenerative) which completely spoils the fun of using the inventive weapons the game offers since you’ll always want to carry the most useful weapons instead of trying to be diverse and have more fun with the wacky ones.
What originally put Resistance 3 down was the multiplayer as, instead of improving on what they had on R2, they stepped back the whole competitive experience. In hindsight, it doesn’t matter really because the servers for these games are currently down anyway so you can’t play that portion at all.

My thoughts
Resistance: Fall of man was a very good game for 2006 but by today’s standards it feels quite dated. Don’t get me wrong, you can still boot it and have fun with it but, unlike back when it came out, it’s no longer a must have for your PS3.
Resistance 2 had an amazing multiplayer but the servers are down now so that portion is no longer important. While what we got as a campaign was better than the first one, it’s not that great honestly.
For me, Resistance 3 was actually when the series stepped up in quality. The first two games were fun but compared with the best games in the genre, they weren’t there yet. Resistance 3’s campaign is for me on par with the greatest in the console. It’s lengthy, immersive, thought out… and overall amazing.

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