I’ve been eager to drop into the post-apocalyptic world of Resistance 3 ever since writing the cover story back last November. Seeing the game in its early stages had me dying to know more about Joe Capelli’s cross-nation voyage, Insomniac’s rediscovery of the first game’s ambience, and the streamlined multiplayer. I finally had a chance to play through the arduous boat sequence, go a few rounds in a new multiplayer map, and sneak a peek at a new weapon, level, and a couple new foes at Sony’s press event in Hollywood.
Capelli’s quest to save the human race eventually leads him to Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Insomniac was eager to show off this new area of the game as it represents a departure in tone from any other setting in the series. This nighttime stage takes place on a mountainside littered with dilapidated shacks, dead trees, and a dangerous new foe. These Sniper Hybrids hide themselves with a cloaking ability while scanning the environment with laser sights. Keen-eyed players must trace the laser sight up to the obscured gunman and take the shot. The result is a compelling long-ranged battle that oftentimes stacks the odds against you. Thankfully Capelli has a brand new sniper rifle, the Deadeye, to make things fair. The gun sports a powerful scope and a devastating charge shot – perfect for the Sniper Hybrids. Eventually Capelli ventures into a mine crawling with Shield Drones. These pesky support units cast impenetrable barriers over Chimera soldiers, making them key targets. Insomniac suggests using the Bullseye tracer tags to counteract these robots’ erratic movements.
This mountainside trek strongly contrasts the previously showcased single-player segment in which Capelli defends against his hometown in an intense battle. This is no accident. Insomniac wants each area in Resistance 3 to feel dramatically different. The company also aims to break up action-packed battles with more moderately-paced sections like the previously shown Mississippi river boat ride through Chimera-infested waters.
This segment presented the perfect opportunity to try out the returning weapon wheel and the joyous toys it contains. Loads of Chimera storm the tiny boat as it floats by a derelict motel. I immediately whipped out an upgraded Rossmore shotgun and pumped incendiary rounds into the creeps. Most of the grunts will go down in one hit, and the maimed ones burn to death over time. I also had a blast with the Revolver. The pistol’s secondary fire - remote-detonated rounds - fragments into multiple shards and take out multiple Chimera simultaneously. Swapping between Insomniac’s unique weapons with the wheel is quick and entertaining, unlike Resistance 2’s two weapon limit. During an assault by the leaping Long Legs enemy I entered a sort of weapon wheel-induced trance. Using radial menu to cycle between the Bullseye, Rossmore, and Auger became a blissful zen-like experience.
Resistance 3’s campaign isn’t the only area receiving an overhaul from Insomniac. Multiplayer has been scaled down from massive 60-player wars to 16-player battles, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The new map, a Columbian train yard, hosts the tight skirmishes marvelously. The wide open center area is a departure from the close quarters mayhem of the previously shown prison location. Long ranged sniper battles erupt in a clearing in the middle of the map, while heated pointblank bouts break out in buildings littered on the sides. Numerous passageways and routes ensure your back is never against the wall for long. Unlike many reflex-based shooters out today, skilled players have the opportunity to counterattack after being fired upon before being dropped. Useful abilities like a decoy and cloaking ability draw fire away and present a chance to retaliate when blindsided by enemy fire.
Aiding the multiplayer’s fresh new feel is the completely restructured aiming mechanic. Insomniac scrapped the previous games’ control methods in favor of fine-tuning the Dual Shock 3’s feel from the ground up. FPS enthusiasts have complained about the PS3 controller’s clunky, loose thumbsticks in the past, but the joysticks feel pitch-perfect this time. Everything down to turn speed, iron sight aiming, and player movement feels harmonious. Throw in Resistance 3’s progression-based leveling system and we might have a PS3 online shooter worth putting down Black Ops for.
Like a Goliath trudging down the Mississippi river, Resistance 3’s September 6 release date is steadily encroaching. The revitalized single-player mode and impressive multiplayer shows promise that this entry will not be a ho-hum FPS sequel in an overcrowded genre. Mark your calendars and update your firmware - you’ll want to be prepared for this one.