SCEA Resistance: Fall of Man

Not Gears of War. But...

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SCEA Resistance: Fall of Man
  • SCEA Resistance: Fall of Man
  • SCEA Resistance: Fall of Man
  • SCEA Resistance: Fall of Man

Pros

  • Good storytelling, interesting arsenal, good multiplayer mode, good control system

Cons

  • Graphics

Bottom Line

It's a highly playable action game that will satisfy even the most demanding FPS junkies.

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First off, let's get this out of the way: Resistance ain't no Gears of War. But it's actually somewhat unfair to even compare the two directly (though that won't stop us, nosiree.)

Gears of War is a genre-blending, quasi-experimental approach to duck-and-cover warfare that's closer in spirit to Resident Evil 4 than run-and-gun shooters like Unreal Tournament or Halo. Resistance: Fall of Man, meanwhile, is happier to work within well-established first-person shooter parameters, offering up time-tested FPS throwbacks like health packs and ammo boxes.

Resistance does, however, take an unusual approach to its storyline, setting up an alternate timeline where World War II never happened. Instead, a mysterious race of mutant/human hybrids has swept Europe, conquering and converting everything in its path. Though the setup is epic in scope, the game itself shifts to personal scale as it follows three days in the life of Sergeant Nathan Hale, a US trooper who is infected by the Chimera invaders. Between-level cinematics are presented in faux-documentary style, complete with gritty black-and-white photos and a History Channel-style narration that attempts to uncover the real story behind Sgt. Hale's encounters with the beastly Chimera. It's a welcome touch.

As a whole, Resistance's storytelling far exceeds that of the more juvenile Gears of War. The setup is clearer, the characters are likeable, and the dialogue is actually believable. The tale is surprisingly compelling, providing more than enough juice to keep you engrossed right up to the ending credits.

And certainly, that ability to grab your attention is Resistance's single biggest asset. Its fast and ferocious single-player campaign, which should take most gamers about 10 to 12 hours to finish, is a blast and engaging throughout. Where Gears generally pits you against five to ten Locust at a time, Resistance pummels you with entire platoons of Chimera killers, enough enemies to quickly induce panic in even seasoned FPS vets.

Thankfully, you have access to an arsenal that more than evens the odds. And rather than rehashing a predictable arsenal of lookalike machineguns and rifles, Insomniac has tapped its Rachet and Clank heritage to create one the wildest, most unconventional FPS arsenals seen yet. The resulting firepower shatters some of the genre's most persistent gameplay formulas and injects a dose of manic genius to the shoot-and-scoot action. Some weapons are designed to shoot through, or reflect off of, walls and obstacles. Others lay traps, "tag" enemies with magnetic beacons, summon protective shields, or zap entire crowds of enemies en masse. Dual firing modes jack up the offensive (and defensive) capabilities still further. Even the sniper rifle, a straightforward gun if there ever was one, has been given a new lease on life thanks to a new functionality that turns headshots into a slow-motion dance of death. The boys at Insomniac have clearly left nothing to stale convention, and Resistance's single-player and multiplayer modes owe a great deal to this ingenuity.

Resistance's brawny multiplayer mode also deserves special mention. With support for up to 40 players across several game modes and an online community-building component, Resistance will be the key online title for Sony's new console, likely well into 2007. The multiplayer action is fast, visceral, and endlessly replayable, and the addition of species bonuses (Chimera can see through walls, humans have radar) adds a juicy wrinkle not found in other shooters. In addition to standard death match and capture the flag modes, Resistance also throws in noteworthy team sessions such as Breach, in which teams compete to overload each other's fusion reactors. Our experiences with 40-player battles were smooth and lag free, an encouraging sign, though it's difficult to predict how the performance will be once the game is out in the wild.

Resistance wins another key battle by adopting one of the smoothest control schemes ever seen in a home console game. The increased sensitivity of the Sixaxis analog sticks is especially apparent in Resistance, making the game as comfortable and precise as the best Xbox 360 shooters. The button layout is also clean and responsive, and not overloaded with excess functions. It's also completely customisable.

But if there's one core flaw to Resistance, it's that it just doesn't look like a PlayStation 3 game. Sure, the levels are massive and sprawling, and the architecture boasts admirable detail but the plain-Jane character animations, low-poly enemy designs and underwhelming weapon effects are undeniably behind the times. There are worse fates, but it's a shame nonetheless, especially when you consider the PS3's price point and how much Sony boasted about the console's unbeatable visual prowess. On another sour note, the game supports only 720p. 1080i and 1080p support are out, barring a post-launch patch.

Some of the presentation, however, still shows that characteristic Insomniac flair. For instance, the first level depicts the Chimera forces shooting down several Osprey-like transport planes. The resulting crashes — the Ospreys whirling across the sky and slamming into nearby buildings — set a wonderfully ominous opening tone. The game is also locked in at a rock-solid 30 frames per second and doesn't sputter once during even the busiest action scenes. Several of the special effects, too, such as flurries of snow and sprays of napalm, show a glimmer of the potential behind Sony's next-gen powerhouse.

Hopefully, gamers will be able to look past Resistance's so-so presentation and see its rich inner beauty. In the end, all the hoopla over Gears of War and Resistance probably isn't worth the fuss. Despite their radically different approaches, they're both great games that fill different niches. And hey, if you're lucky enough to own an Xbox 360 and a PS3, why not buy both games? Now there's a next-gen war worth talking about.

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