Resistance: Fall of Man Review

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The PlayStation 3 was the last seventh generation console I acquired. A lot of the games I wanted to play at the time I was able to play on 360 and there was only a few PS3 exclusives I was interested in. Among them was Resistance and that was one of the first games I bought for the system. Developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment, Resistance: Fall of Man was a launch title for the PlayStation 3, released in November, 2006. Resistance is a first-person shooter that centers on an alien invasion of Europe. I like shooters, I like science fiction, I like aliens, so when I learned what it was all about, I was immediately interested. Resistance became a rather popular series for the seventh generation era but has since died off as of this review.

Set in an alternate history, an alien race known as the Chimera invade Earth in the early 1900s. They infect people which turns them into Chimeran soldiers and by 1949, the Chimera have taken over all of Europe. In 1951, the United States sends a task force to assist the UK and among them is Army Ranger Sgt. Nathan Hale, the protagonist. Early in the story, Hale and his squad are ambushed and become infected with the Chimera virus. We soon learn that Hale is special because he survives but, of course, he’s a little different now because he’s infected. He’s not a silent protagonist but he doesn’t have many lines, either so he just comes across as very quiet with no personality. Normally, I wouldn’t mind this but considering the story frequently reminds you that he’s infected, it left me curious as to what he’s feeling, thinking, and how he’s changing. If it wasn’t for the occasional visions he experiences and the narration during cut scenes, we would have very little idea of how the virus is affecting him. After being infected, he meets up with British forces and assists them with eliminating the Chimera in the UK.

Ultimately, Resistance has a cool premise but I don’t think the plot is one of the game’s biggest strengths. I do think there are some interesting ideas here, some of which are not fleshed out enough. One being Nathan’s resistance or partial immunity to the infection which could have been developed further. I like that there is a fair amount of lore and information on the Chimera and how they operate and convert infected humans.

Resistance starts off with a bang. The game opens by throwing you into the middle of a war zone and in addition to showing you the basic mechanics as you progress, the first chapter or mission teaches you two very important things. One; there’s little to no handholding and two; this game ain’t no joke. Resistance can be a challenging experience and the combat is intense. I did beat the campaign on the Medium difficulty and played through a portion of it on Hard. You can even unlock an additional, more challenging difficulty level.

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown accustomed to more modern shooters, but Resistance felt refreshing and the very first mission really stands out. Unlike many games that have released since, the first mission does not feel like it was designed to be extremely easy to simply show you the ropes. As I was running around a destroyed York alongside friendly AI soldiers as spheres from alien weaponry were whizzing passed my head, I quickly realized that death can come in an instant. I realized getting behind cover, good aim, and quick reaction times are very important. I also realized that the most common enemies in the game are actually quite dangerous.

When you first start playing, you learn that you have four what I’ll call health bars that drain when you take damage and can be replenished by picking up health items. After Hale is infected, the bars will regenerate unless they’re depleted. Weapons and ammo can be found in the environments and are dropped by enemies and Hale can hold all weapons and switch between them at any time. Every weapon feels useful and they do have alternate fire modes. Also, more weapons are unlocked after beating the campaign.

You’ll get your hands on typical weapons like an assault rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, and frag grenades but as you progress, you’ll get to use more interesting stuff. The Bullseye is one of the first Chimeran weapons you pick up. It can rapidly fire spheres but also tags that the spheres will home in on, making it useful against fast-moving enemies. The Auger can shoot through walls and can also deploy a shield that can protect you from most attacks, making it a very useful weapon. Another stand out weapon is the Hailstorm which fires bolts that will ricochet off hard surfaces and it’s alt-fire launches a clip that acts as an auto-turret. One of my favorite weapons is the Air-Fuel Grenade. It releases a cloud of flammable vapor that can be ignited.

Hybrids are the most common foes you’ll face. They’re basically foot-soldiers and are equipped with Bullseyes and what makes them dangerous is that they’re accurate. They will unleash a ton of spheres at you and if you’re not behind something, you’re going to get hit. If you’re not moving or behind cover, you’re going to die, or at least lose a ton of health. It’s that simple. Standing out in the open for too long is never a good idea. Variants of the Hybrids appear as you progress like Steelheads that wield Augers which means cover won’t protect you. Sometimes you just need to keep moving.

Every time I would get comfortable, something new was thrown at me, all the way to the end. From new weapons to enemy types, the game is always trying to keep you on your toes. You’ll want to switch between weapons often to eliminate the different threats and grenades are really great for crowd control. Hybrids and their variants are what you’ll be up against most of the time but you’ll also engage some other foes like Leapers which arrive in swarms, Slipskulls that can quickly jump around the environments and cling to surfaces, and extremely dangerous types like Titans, Widowmakers, Angels, and Stalkers, all of which could be seen as boss types. They’re big and will inflict a good amount of damage.

Most of the enemies in this game are tough. I can’t say they’re intelligent but they are tough. Foes will rush you and run around and shoot at you and sometimes you will come across enemies manning sentry guns. They don’t do anything super sophisticated but because enemies like Hybrids are accurate, they’re very dangerous. The game likes to throw tons of enemies at you at once. Everywhere you go, you’re basically always outnumbered. Most of the time, Resistance remains close to the line that separates challenging and frustrating, staying on the challenging side. Most encounters are tough and never feel impossible or tedious. But some do cross over into the frustrating category. There are certain encounters that feel outright cheap. For example, one mission starts with you being immediately assaulted by a group of enemies obscured by smoke or fog or whatever it is. At one point I had just survived a skirmish and proceeded to run up some stairs and then all of a sudden a shit-ton of foes appeared and almost blew me away within seconds.

Many encounters will simply be trial and error. Often times, charging straight at foes is not the best idea and despite regenerating health bars, enemies can drain those bars very quickly. Sometimes it’s better to flank them or try a different approach or weapons. Some encounters late in the game pit you against several boss types along with standard foes like Hybrids. Needless to say, these battles can be very intense but also frustrating simply because boss types inflict a lot of damage and it can be difficult to balance staying behind cover and moving. Staying behind cover won’t necessarily save you from the boss types. It’s not like you’re actually hidden, either, because enemies will still fire at you and some boss attacks deal splash damage. Combine this with how accurate Hybrids can be, some battles can be infuriating if you don’t have patience. In general, I think Resistance is fair for the most part but some encounters could have definitely been toned down by simply eliminating some of the foes that appear.

Resistance will take you to numerous locations around England. You’ll get to drive a tank and jeep at certain points and even pilot Stalkers which are mobile heavy weapon platforms. The environments are linear with branching areas that are often worth exploring simply for the health and ammo pickups and you will also find intel which acts as a form of collectible. The level design shines more when you’re shooting your way through outdoor environments. Several indoor environments get a bit repetitive because you’ll be moving through a lot of similar looking corridors and rooms. The outdoor environments are often more open with plenty of objects and structures to use as cover.

Visually, the game does look dated in some respects but for the most part the presentation holds up fairly well. Resistance does nail the war-torn Europe look and feel. Destroyed buildings, rubble, and debris are everywhere. Some textures are a bit muddy now and I don’t really care for the washed out look but there are some neat details in the game. The weapon models look great and I really like the design of the Bullseye in particular. You can actually see tubes and screws in the weapon. The gunplay is satisfying thanks to not only good visual feedback and satisfying weapons-fire but also the gore effects. Blood puffs appear when enemies are shot and blood will splatter on surfaces. Some enemies can be blown into gibs which is always cool. When a Hybrid is killed, you can often see that one of its air tubes is disconnected which I thought was a nice touch. What’s really satisfying is the loud growl enemies like Hybrids let out as they die. Seeing my grenade kill a bunch of them or send their bodies flying accompanied by a bunch of growls was always music to my ears. Speaking of music, I can’t say any songs really stood out to me but the soundtrack gets the job done. It’s full of a lot of dramatic and intense orchestral tunes mixed with some ambient stuff to help build tension. On the technical side, I have no complaints.

I was actually very impressed with Resistance. In fact, I think it’s one of the best launch titles I’ve ever played. The gunplay is satisfying, the gameplay is challenging, and it does have quite a bit of replay value which is good because the multiplayer servers were shut down some time ago. You can unlock additional difficulties, skins, and weapons for subsequent playthroughs. You can even play through the campaign cooperatively with another player. I also like that the campaign is rather beefy. There was a few times I thought I was close to the end but it just kept going. The action in Resistance is intense and never lets up. The game does a great job at conveying a human-alien war and the sense that the world around you is actively being invaded by a dangerous alien force. I actually felt like I was part of a war. Just a small part of something bigger. I like the missions that have you fighting alongside friendly soldiers because despite the fact they die fairly easily, the battles are always exciting. You’ll be surrounded by gunfire and explosions which are accompanied by shouting and growling. It’s very cool. There’s a lot of “oh, fuck” moments in this game. One minute you’re running down a corridor or street with little to no resistance and the next thing you know, you’ve strolled into an area populated with a ton of foes and are greeted with a barrage of spheres and other projectiles. A lot of the later encounters had me thinking “oh, fuck, how I am I going to survive this”. And you might not, the first five to ten times. Most of the time, surviving a tough battle feels rewarding. My only major complaint is with the more cheap encounters but luckily, they’re few and far between.

I would absolutely recommend Resistance: Fall of Man to fans of shooters. It still holds up and in my opinion, is one of the best shooters released for the PlayStation 3. It’s not too short, it’s got replay value, it can be played cooperatively, and it’s a challenging action-packed experience from beginning to end. Resistance sometimes feels like a shooter of yore mixed with some modern elements. It often reminded me of Doom or Quake in the sense that I felt like a super soldier hero, constantly on the move, using a varied arsenal of awesome firepower to obliterate the large number of vicious enemies in my way. Definitely check it out.

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