Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Resistance 2 (PS3) Review

It's been a long time coming since I purchased the game in November (if I remember well), but it's finally here-- my Resistance 2 review. I know there's a plethora of people who held off on getting this game until they got my final word on it, so gentlemen, you can finally purchase it! I sincerely hope nobody actually thinks I was serious about that last line!

Resistance Isn't Futile; It's Essential.

Insomniac Games is known for their platformers. First it was the charming but headache-inducing (PS1 3D gives me headaches) Spyro the Dragon, and then moving up to the Playstation 2 we got one of my favorite franchises in Ratchet & Clank. With the launch of the Playstation 3, Insomniac went back to the genre their first ever game, Disruptor, was in-- the first-person shooter. With that, they created the critical and financial success, Resistance: Fall of Man. Two years after, the resistance resumes with Resistance 2! Is R2 the pièce de résistance, or is it just a piece of crap?

In the first Resistance, Europe served as the front for the war between humanity and the ruthless Chimera. Apparently they destroyed every last race of Euro pop as the Chimeran forces have now set their sights on the United States, ravaging the country. You play as Lieutenant Nathan Hale, a Sentinel soldier who at the end of the original Resistance was infected by the Chimera. It's now only a matter of time before Hale's humanity is completely ripped away by the virus and he turns into the enemy. A sinister and anamorphic villain, Daedalus, serves as Resistance 2's main antagonist. Daedalus wishes nothing more than to see humanity suffer right til the very end. While the basics of the story are presented, the background information that makes the entire narrative much more coherent are found in intel documents, hidden in every level. This makes Resistance 2 somewhat hard to follow. I couldn't help but ask myself, "What the hell are we doing here? What is going on?" more than a few times. There's also a lot of cliches used such as escaping from a complex that's about to explode, a bald protagonist, lines like "I don't think we're alone here" and other Aliens/Doom-inspired novelties. However, R2 isn't cringe-worthy in this regard like other games of the same genre.

This is Lieutenant Nathan Hale.
He doesn't have any smile muscles.

While the story isn't going to win any awards, Insomniac did a terrific job on the presentation of the game. It's sad to me that it's a rare sight seeing colors in a first-person shooter. Forest areas are filled with lush green grass and other vegetation, Bryce Canyon has a vibrant umber color radiating off its mountainous slopes, and even Chimeran ships stay away from the "this is next-gen. Gray and brown only" line of boring, dull, cliched thinking. The voice acting is performed very well, and the fact that not every word is an expletive helps me not cringe as much as I did with Killzone 2 [ED: great game, review coming later]. There are a few texture problems, but you really have to be a gigantic graphics whore to not think Resistance 2 is very much eye-pleasing and sometimes even gorgeous in sections such as Chicago and Orick.

There's three modes of play in Resistance 2: campaign, cooperative, and competitive. The main campaign mode itself runs close to ten hours in length, and it's a rather linear affair with seldom any room for altering pathways to take. There's generally only one way to go, but there are large scale rooms and areas for some exploration. Unfortunately, many outdoor areas suffer from invisible wall syndrome barring you to reach places you should easily be able to reach. Regardless, you're immediately thrust into the action, traversing through a volatile battlefield, gunning down Chimera, taking down a colossal enemy walker, all the while trying to make your escape aboard a military vessel. These moments of sheer carnage, fierce firefights, and adrenaline-pumping action make Resistance 2 great, and they're usually spread out between several sections of less intense action to give the game a great sense of pacing. As there's an adequate number of checkpoints, there's never a huge dread in having to do a sizable portion of a level over again. It's also perfect for pick-up-and-play sessions of finishing off just one firefight before bed.

And these are the Chimera.
I wonder how they go pee?

Speaking of coming back for more, the Chimera just won't quit. The AI isn't extremely bright, but they will duck behind cover, be aggressive if you're camping in a given spot, and they don't waste ammo either. By their lonesome, they're easy to pick off. However, the most dangerous parts of the game are during sections where they attack in sheer numbers, sometimes from all sides. Thankfully, you're usually seldom alone in the game. You'll have your squad-mates alongside you who will help take out some problematic foes here and there and then call it a day basically. The Chimera don't really seem to care as they will usually divert their attention directly to you. There's a decent variety of different dastardly foes to take down from standard foot-soldier Hyrbrid Chimera, insect-like bugs that scamper towards you to inflict pain, zombie-like Grims who do nothing but run at you waiting to swipe at you with their rotting arms, running time bomb creatures who want to get up close and personal with you, big, hulking shield-handling Ravagers, the rocket-launching, how-many-more-hits-does-this-guy-take Titans, and the most annoying enemy in the game, the invisible one-hit kill Chameleon. All the warning you get is a short shake of the screen and the sound of charging footsteps before you realize you just died. It's an infuriating enemy especially when they come one after the other after the other while you're reloading. Boss battles are quite epic in scope, and I use the word "epic" appropriately and not like some moronic adolescent male who doesn't know any other adjectives. While they are quite intimidating, after understanding the way to take them down as if it were a Zelda boss, they'll go down easily. All of the boss encounters were enjoyable save for one. The fact that the final boss fight was so anticlimactic doesn't help.

Titans are the most dangerous Chimera of all.
They pack rocket launchers which they aren't shy about using.

Rolling away the weapon wheel from the previous Resistance, R2 only allows you to carry any two weapons at a time. Three forms of grenades are available as is a secondary function for each gun equipped from the explosive shot of the Carbine to the defensive shield of the Wraith. There's also plenty of ammo and chances for new weapons as it seems that the perfect weapon for a given situation is always resting in plain sight for a player to pick up. This may bother some that the right gun is conveniently placed where the player will need it, so just a heads up. Taking a page from games like Call of Duty 4, Halo, Gears of War, and so forth, the tried and true health bar has been replaced with regenerating health-- somewhat of a godsend especially in later levels.

On the alternate side of R2 is the multiplayer mode featuring competitive and cooperative play. Both options are available offline, but no bots are available. The big draw with Resistance 2's multiplayer is online. In competitive you can compete with up to 60 players in one game depending on the mode. Of the available modes, there's your standard solo and team deathmatches, the Capture the Flag-like Core Control, and by far my favorite of them all, Skirmish. Skirmish is a team-based affair with up to thirty players on each side, and the goal is to get points by completing the given objective assigned to your squad. This can be anywhere from taking and controlling an enemy beacon to eliminating a specific player from the other team.

It's truly a blast teaming up with total strangers online.

Cooperative is by far the coolest mode there is. Despite what logic might tell you, this mode is not the single-player mode with two players. Instead it's even better. Cooperative is available for up to eight players, each of which chooses one of three different yet almost equally important jobs. The soldier is the major offense, the spec-ops restores ammo, and the medic heals the group. It's more complicated than that, but for simplicity's sake, that's their main jobs. It doesn't matter how good individual players are-- if some people aren't working at a team, then failure is the only logical conclusion. There's a total of six absolutely massive cooperative levels to play, and each map has three out of four objectives that will be assigned to the team. Each objective is assigned after the last is completed, and each has the team moving to a different area of the map.

The best part of the multiplayer in Resistance 2 is that everything you do awards you experience. Every bullet that hits, every kill that is executed, every objective that is met, every online match you win, and so forth nets you experience. This means the player is making progress even when losing. This kind of attitude makes leveling up to gain new player skins, weapons, and abilities less tedious than only rewarding experience through winning. I don't want to admit how many hours (see: days) I've played Resistance 2 total, but it's just incredibly fun and addicting to play and level up.

Then again shooting at total strangers is fun, too.

Resistance 2 was a game that I was not expecting to like. I rented it at a whim, and I found so engrossed with the package as a whole that I immediately went out and purchased it. It's been a very long time since I've played a first-person shooter that I truly enjoyed as much as Resistance 2, and that says a lot since my last one that I put to that level was the original Perfect Dark. With a strong variety of weapons, an entertaining well-paced single-played campaign, and plenty of online excitement, Resistance 2 is highly recommended. Playstation 3 owners need not resist this package.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]

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