It must be extremely tiring to be Lieutenant Nathan Hale, after single handedly quelling the Chimeran invasion of England he’s back to war in Resistance 2. Curiously, the Chimeran didn’t take kindly to their plans being foiled during the fall of man, so they’ve followed Lt. Hale home to the United States. Although Lt. Hale had the bright spot of a promotion between the two conflicts, he’s also learned that he has an extremely advanced stage of the Chimeran infection. Rather than dispose of Lt. Hale and other soldiers like him, the US military has decided to play with fire by creating a specific unit of these soon-to-be-enemies. Hale and his team of Sentinels have their work cut out for them as they fight to liberate their homeland.
The first thing noticeably different between Fall of Man and Resistance 2 is its locations. While the first kept you almost exclusively to war torn English cities and Chimeran facilities, the sequel does a much better job of mixing up the level aesthetics. Sure you’ll still tramp through a Chimeran battleship and the ravaged streets of Chicago, but these familiar warzones will be juxtaposed with some interesting and normally tranquil environments, involving sleepy Northwest towns and forests. As locations change, developer Insomniac has done a great job of varying combat across the 7 chapters spanning Resistance 2’s campaign. Along the way you’ll be swarmed by gangs of Grims, stalking Chameleons or digging in against one of the number of large enemies littered throughout the game.
“Insomniac has done a great job of varying combat”Resistance 2 is a game that really runs with the idea bigger is better. A lot of fuss has been made about the sheer size of the bosses you’ll face, including the Godzilla-sized Leviathan, but fighting some of these bosses isn’t nearly the experience you might have been hoping for. Some of the problems stem from many bosses being too simple, featuring only a small handful of attacks that are easily predicted. Resistance 2’s health system also removes some of the tension, allowing you to recover all of your health in between attacks, compared to Fall of Man which sported a more original health system that relied on a segmented, partially recharging health bar.
In addition to auto health recovery, Insomniac has added the now popular two weapons at a time. While it was nice in Fall of Man to always have a small arsenal a few analogue stick motions away, the two weapon swap system works well. The player will have to think about which weapons are most appropriate, and getting to that second weapon is now a lot easier in sticky situations. Although you’ll only be packing heat in two varieties, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to play with Resistance 2’s many weapons. Enemies will drop them and a new one is almost always waiting at the next checkpoint.
Another major change between the two titles is Resistance 2’s lack of narration. Over the course of Fall of Man, Captain Rachel Parker did her best to keep the player informed. She even provided commentary to widen the player’s understanding of the events Lt. Hale was engaged in. Without Parker or a similar voice in Resistance 2, many of the plot details aren’t as easily digested. To really grasp everything that’s going on you’ll not only have to pay attention to the cut scenes, but track down intel scattered throughout the game. Unfortunately these bits of intel provide the only real bit of character to your teammates in Echo team, which is disappointing since you’ll be spending a large portion of the game with them.
“Although you’ll only be packing heat in two varieties, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to play with Resistance 2’s many weapons”To Resistance 2’s advantage if you find the teammates of Echo a little too dour, you’re sure to find some interesting squad mates online in the games’ cooperative campaign. As a squad of up to 8 players (2 offline) you’ll have a number of objectives to achieve as you fight to survive waves of Chimeran forces. As a member of Spectre team you’ll be able to select one of three classes: Soldier, Medic or Spec-Ops. Each class plays very differently, but more importantly each class is essential to a successful cooperative team. The Solder is the front line fighter but can also deploy a force barrier to protect himself and his teammates, while the Medic provides healing and the Spec-Ops distributes ammunition to the team. The design is simple but extremely effective, essentially forcing players to work together and tackle objectives as a team rather than a server full of lone rangers.
As you kill hordes of the Chimera you’ll be gaining experience and picking up units of Gray Tech, which act as currency for buying equipment to outfit your character. There aren’t too many different pieces of equipment to buy but they have a required level attached to them. That way even if you accumulate a lot of Gray Tech quickly you’ll still have to put your time in before you can wear some of the beefier gear. Although the cooperative modes’ objectives mostly involve fiddling with a device or killing a group of enemies it rarely gets boring. Playing Resistance 2’s co-op is strangely reminiscent of Phantasy Star Online, although what you’re currently doing may not seem that interesting in itself, the act of depending on a group of others and getting that next level up pushes you on.
If you’re friends aren’t dependable or you’d just rather see them bleed, Resistance 2 provides a good variety of competitive multiplayer modes as well. The game supports matches of up to 60 players, which sounds like a lot but the game structures each team of 30 into smaller squads creating a series of smaller conflicts. The squad system works really well in match but can be very frustrating when getting friends together to play a competitive game. Even if you’ve invited a friend into your party through Resistance 2’s party-channel, your friend might not be assigned to the same squad as you when you enter a room. Since the game needs to balance squads between the two sides it doesn’t allow an easy way to change squads, making playing together difficult.
While Fall of Man focused on a more traditional arena-based deathmatch, Resistance 2 has decided to open things up a bit more. The game features the standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Core Control (capture the flag), which are fun enough but you’ll probably spend most of your time with the new Skirmish mode. Skirmish is a blast to drop in for a quick round because the game has rolling objectives, so you’re never stuck doing the same thing for too long. One minute you’ll be capturing the opponents’ node and the next you could be protecting a teammate or trying to kill one specific enemy. Not only are you constantly doing something different but it keeps a constant barrage in a small but always changing location. The only downside to Skirmish is that there aren’t that many different objectives and they’re all simple variations of objectives found in other games.
Even with 60 people engaged in battle Resistance 2 doesn’t seem to have much lag and always runs smoothly. Occasionally there can be some strange glitches when things explode in either single or multiplayer, creating some bizarre physics but its fairly irregular. However, some glitches can become apparent and even frustrating during co-op. It certainly doesn’t happen regularly but on occasion an objective trigger won’t react appropriately, which can lead to a door not opening or an enemy not spawning, halting your team’s ability to progress. More often if you join a cooperative game late you’ll hear mission updates out of order, which can confuse the new player about where to go or what objective is next.
“you could literally drop hundreds of hours into the game to gain every achievement.”Although each of Resistance 2’s components have their share of small flaws, the sum is much greater than its parts. Whether playing the campaign, cooperative or competitive mode, you’ll always be gaining experience for your overall rank. Insomniac has done an excellent job giving you the incentive to fully explore all of the modes, between Trophies, Ribbons, Medals, extra Berserks and equipment, you could literally drop hundreds of hours into the game to gain every achievement.
Lt. Hale’s sophomore journey into enemy territory is a more than worthy successor to Fall of Man. It certainly won’t win many points for originality, borrowing heavily from other established shooters and even its fair share of movies. Despite its shortcomings, Resistance 2 remains one of the most complete shooter packages on the Playstation 3. There is always something waiting to be killed, no matter which mode you choose to do it in. The only real question left is whether or not you can resist the Chimeran infection.