It’s been a little over two years since Resistance 2, and the FPS landscape has changed considerably since then. When Insomniac Games releases Resistance 3 in September 2011, it’ll be entering the heart of the FPS fray.
We caught up with Insomniac at GDC to see what will make Resistance 3 stand out. Going into the event, it seemed like Insomniac was going back to its roots by reviving old favorites from Resistance: Fall of Man. While true, it quickly became clear that Insomniac is bringing some drastic changes to complement the nostalgia.
Arguably, the biggest change in Resistance 3 comes in multiplayer. Gone are the massive 60-player matches in Resistance 2 in favor of 16 player (8 vs. 8) battles. Creative Director Marcus Smith states this will help players become “more intimate” with their enemies while allowing Insomniac to create a tighter multiplayer experience.
There’s also a dramatic shift in the story. Smith described the theme as “heroic survival in a brutal world.”
“In Resistance 3, we’ve moved away from the idea of military might and fighting the Chimera on somewhat level ground. Resistance 3 focuses on humanity and individual stories and what humans are doing; how they’re coping with the Chimeran occupation.”
The story of alien oppression occurs four years after the murderous conclusion of Resistance 2, and casts Joseph Capelli as the leading man.
This story begins with single-player.
The single-player demo starts off with Capelli and his family laying low and doing the whole heroic survival thing. But when a Chimeran death squad learns of their presence, Capelli and friends are forced to take up arms and provide safe passage for understandably terrified town folk.
Smith drove home that Insomniac’s goal was to make Resistance 3 a “choice-based shooter by providing players as much freedom to play what they want to play.”A key means to that end is the return of the weapon wheel from Fall of Man, which allows players easily select a bevy of Chimeran-crushing toys from their arsenal.
This came in quite handy as I began to slash my way through the invasion and provides a very fluid means of weapon selection, each of which also sports a primary and secondary upgrade.
The graphics looked very impressive, almost Killzone-esque. Haven, Oklahoma had seen better days, and Insomniac did a great job bringing this to life. The landscape resembled a twisted-version of a sepia photograph — a gritty mix browns from light to dark. There’s much more polish compared to Resistance 2 and the weather elements of dust clouds and windstorms underscore just how much went into the look and feel. The art direction seems interesting too. Smith tells us that “art direction changes as the story progresses,” so rest-assured you won’t be stuck in the doldrums of Haven, OH.
The open level design, another feature backed by Insomniac’s focus on choice, provides more than one way to skin a Chimeran. Controls were very tight, and gunplay was satisfying, providing just the right amount of recoil.
The AI was impressive in that enemies positioned themselves well, but it never felt like they were making a strategic push toward Capelli and his men. They are invading, after all. Capelli’s rag-tag team also seemed useless and felt more like placeholders than contributing combatants.
But all around, single-player gameplay looks strong. Fans of the franchise will appreciate classic features, smooth gameplay and gorgeous visuals. The big, unanswered question, is how Insomniac pulls off the narrative.
While single-player and co-op campaigns take place in the U.S., all multiplayer maps are set in other regions. Insomniac let us loose on one map – a bombed out prison in the Republic of Chad. Only Team Deathmatch was featured, but Insomniac promises objective-based modes will be available.
Multiplayer consists of two combating factions: humans vs. Chimera. Each player utilizes active and passive abilities. Active abilities are triggered by “activating” left/right on the D-pad. Players can boost health, create ammo drops, initiate force fields and even create a decoy of your player to distract enemies. Passive abilities are just like perks in Call of Duty, and serve to buff player styles. Some include increased hip fire accuracy and faster speed afoot.
Killstreaks vary based on species. One nifty killstreak is a Chimera cloaking ability after three kills. Most notably, a killstreak of approximately six results in a mutation streak that turns your wiry Chimera into an unstoppable beast.
Loadouts come in four presets – Survivor, Infected, Specter and Warden – with added abilities. A custom class can also be outfitted and weapon abilities increase after more and more kills.
In general, the multiplayer is loads of fun. The tempo created by the smaller 8 vs. 8 matches is a refreshing change for the franchise. The prison map allowed for close quarter chaos, but also provided enough cover and space to sneak around. One of the standout elements is how various active abilities quickly change strategy without creating an imbalance. The Chimera’s cloaking ability is nixed after firing a weapon, and after learning the different abilities many players moved toward more strategic combat.
On the downside, character animations didn’t seem to be very diverse, and the strong health meters may be challenging for those used to the quick kill formats.
At first look, Resistance 3 is a strong FPS that will please old fans while bringing new ones into the fight. Its biggest challenge will be whether it can stand out from the crowd when it launches in September.