Eurogamer Expo 2008 Hands On: Resistance 2
It’s a little odd how nearly two years after the console’s release and probably twice that spent working with the hardware, Insomniac have yet to really impress with the PS3. Resistance: Fall of Man was a significant commercial success for Sony and Insomniac, but aside from a solid online mode ultimately suffered from genericism and a failure to really push the developers or the hardware. And while Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction was a beautiful and admired game, no-one could deny that it was essentially a HD version of its PS2 predecessors.
Which brings us up to date with Resistance 2, which is Insomniac’s biggest title to date and probably their most important work from both an online and hardware perspective. There is much resting on this, the biggest PS3 shooter of this Christmas; particularly when Gears of War 2 is being released at a very similar time on the Xbox 360, and the two will very likely go head-to-head both in terms of sales and critical plaudits.
Picking up where the first game left off, the Chimera have overwhelmed Europe and now launch their assault on North America. Taking command again of the first game’s protagonist Nathan Hale, the Chimera virus is killing him and in teaser trailers released some months back he solemnly proclaims he has just 24 hours to live. Presumably it’s going to be a busy last day, then.
Taking command of the first of two demo levels, our immediate feeling was that the controls feel a little spongy – however, this may be due more to the Sixaxis controller than to the game. Nonetheless, quickly becoming accustomed to the standard FPS layout we followed our fellow soldier who was shouting instructions to us, stopping momentarily to gaze somewhat awestruck at a gargantuan metal monster making its way slowly across the terrain. Following him down the rural pathway to a dishevelled cabin, we made our way inside before battling some Chimeran troops. Once they are dealt with (made quite easy by our brutish revolver which had explosive bullets as its auto-fire), we find a Laark rocket launcher and took aim at the back of the giant robot, where its ventilation ducts were exposed. Taking out one of its four weak points, we quickly moved on before the retaliatory strike came, and encountered another group of enemies who after a short gunfight were soon trampled by the beast’s gigantic foot.
Following a strictly linear path and interspersing gunfights with the Chimeran troops, flying robot drones and shooting rockets at the back of the metallic titan, progress is swift and clear. Ammo is generally in abundance and you have fully recharging health, so the combat is for the most part fast-paced, although thanks to some aggressive foes not without some need for tactical employment. Following the huge robot as it makes its way across the level, you need to destroy its four ventilation ducts one at a time when you reach specific locations, and unsurprisingly once they’re all dealt with the machine falls and the level is over. While enjoyable and viscerally impressive in places, the most galling element we found was that some of the enemy designs were a bit stupid – a flying tentacled beast with a human face was the most absurd, which felt like a half way point between the Metroid Prime and Duke Nukem‘s flying brain enemies.
Moving on to the other level, things were a little more enjoyable. Seemingly set in a small town in New England, you at first have to fight your way through an open area against foes sporting optical camouflage. However, the powerful shotgun makes this an easier prospect, with its one-hit kills. Reaching the outskirts of the town, we were set upon by a number of Chimeran troops, as well as a larger version who sports a frontal shield and can take you down literally in seconds. After introducing him to a couple of grenades, we made our way into the town, shooting a few more troops scattered around the rooftops. Upon entering a clearing in the middle of the buildings, we witnessed the carnage of their landing craft in the centre, but before we could reflect further another even bigger brute crashed through a wall and set about us with his rocket launcher. After trying several different tactics and each time meeting our end (whilst wishing we hadn’t been so ready with those grenades before), we armed the huge revolver with its explosive ammo and used our much smaller size to our advantage; forcing the slow, cumbersome foe to follow us as we circled the crashed landing craft, as we took shots at its back. Before long, even this massive foe had fallen, and our time with the level was at an end.
Graphically, Resistance 2 is a very mixed bag. Both levels’ openings do the game no favours, as it does not appear too competent with foliage, and there are jaggies aplenty. Animations also seem a little primitive when compared to the likes of Gears and Killzone 2 – the latter of which was positioned beside Resistance 2 and we agreed that it really served to show how visually advanced Guerrilla’s shooter was by comparison. However, character models in Resistance 2 are excellent, with a really high level of detail (you’ll notice this if you investigate fallen foes), and we saw no stuttering of the frame rate, despite the epic scenes often playing out. Further, the colour palette is bright and varied which is a refreshing change against most grey FPS out there.
Our time with Resistance 2‘s campaign didn’t blow us away, but it looks as though it will be a solid and enjoyable single-player FPS, if not particularly impressive. However, the online Beta has been getting some extremely good feedback, so perhaps that will again be the game’s saving grace. It looks like being in the very least adequate and enjoyable, but in a genre ruled by titans like Call of Duty 4, The Orange Box and BioShock that might not be good enough.