Resistance 2 Review
Developer: Insomniac Games
Platform: PlayStation 3
Reviewed on PlayStation 3
Resistance: Fall of Man explored the United States' entry into the conflict against the Chimera in July of 1951. The Chimera had been genetically transforming humanity into their own soldiers, and quickly overwhelming Europe and Asia. Nathan Hale, a lone U.S. Soldier, briefly helped turn the tide of battle in Britain. But that was months ago. The Chimera have brought their fleets to North America, and by 1953 most of America is a smoking ruin. Hale, infected with the Chimeran virus, may be the country's and the world's only hope... if he doesn't transform into the enemy first.
I've saved the world countless times. Play enough video games, and you, too, will have barely staved off the destruction of the planet more times that you can count. Most of the time, the general population has no idea what's even happened. In Resistance 2, I saved the world again. Barely. In fact, as far as I know, the entire population of the world has already been genetically transformed into Chimera, save a few lone hold-outs, pockets of military resistance and a bunch of people in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
I loved playing Resistance 2. It's a great game – but I still felt like I'd somehow failed when the game ended with the Earth's landscape rent with spires, cities in ruins and the vast majority of the planet's population assimilated. But even if I personally nearly failed the human race, this time I was able to do so with more weapons than in Resistance, in larger (gorgeously detailed) environments, and in some exceptional multiplayer modes.
Resistance 2 started off strong, but really grabbed my attention the moment I emerged from underground to see the San Francisco landscape smoking and overwhelmed with gigantic floating alien forces. The art and concept for Resistance 2 are among the most compelling aspects of this shooter, as the destruction of humanity at the hands of the Chimera is creatively and spectacularly rendered. I only wish that the game were presented at higher resolutions rather than being limited to 720p displays. From that moment in San Francisco through sequences in Chimera vessels floating over the Gulf of Mexico, I was hooked and loved plowing through hordes of Chimeran forces.
The long load times of the original game are gone, and everything in Resistance 2 reflects a high degree of polish, right down to the large number of creative weapons with powerful secondary firing modes. Thanks to the high-technology the soldiers and chimera sport, it's easy to forget that this game is set in the 1950s. The original game felt like an alternate timeline for World War II, but Resistance 2 feels like modern warfare sprinkled with older cars and music.
Insomniac Games does a marvelous job of mixing things up in the single-player game. Standard shooter levels where the player fires at oncoming enemy soldiers hiding behind cover are broken up with clever and unique (but manageable) boss battles. Every once in a while, Insomniac felt like throwing in a zombie level. Now that the Chimera no longer need conversion centers, the landscape is littered with pods where infected humans are changed into Chimera, leading to massive mobs of zombie-like Chimera rushing at the player.
There are issues with the new game, but they don't detract overmuch from stemming the advance of the Chimera. Invisible enemies are a mild irritation, mostly leading to "gotcha" deaths – fortunately Insomniac was conscientious about putting checkpoints right before any of these points so that lots of irritating replay wasn't required. Also, I felt some of the game's sequences in pitch-blackness lasted overlong. Some were long enough that it was easy to get turned around, and I really came to dread the "Dum... dah dah duuuuuuuummmmm" that played every time I died in the dark, leaving me to get turned around once again. Finally, just like human players, I found that the AI characters loved to run in front of me when I wanted to throw a grenade. Squadmate Capelli wanted to kill me as part of the story line, but also succeeded quite often when my grenades bounced off the back of his head.
The single-player campaign in Resistance 2 makes the game a worthwhile purchase, but some exceptional multiplayer options give Resistance 2 serious longevity. Competitive modes support up to 60 players battling it out using the full array of human and Chimeran weaponry on extremely well-designed levels. Using variants on some of the single-player campaign's levels, there are vast levels for large numbers of players and tighter maps for smaller groups, with the usual play modes including deathmatch, team deathmatch and "Core Control" (capture the flag). Regular weapons are supplemented with Berserk abilities that serve as a brief power-up earned through success in battle.
Personally, I enjoyed the cooperative multiplayer modes even more. Up to eight players can work together to complete a series of supplemental missions against the Chimera. There are three different classes (each with a different assortment of weaponry and equipment) that level up and purchase new equipment through play. While I found that these modes didn't work well without a close-to-full complement of players, it was never a problem to find tons of active games. While the cooperative game is mostly a matter of blasting the hell out of anything you encounter, it's still mildly tactical, even when hammering on ultra-powerful boss enemies. It brought with it a pleasant feeling of camaraderie while online.
Resistance 2 is easy to recommend as a game with a strong offline story and powerful online play both with and against others. If you own a PlayStation 3, it would be hard to go wrong with this first-person shooter.