Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keep fighting: Resistance 2 review

Being a huge fan of the original Resistance for the PS3, I went into part two with high expectations. While the experience is improved overall, I have a problem with some aspects being fixed that weren’t really broken to begin with.

The weapons are one example. I loved the arsenal in R1. The guns were unique and, most importantly, fun. While several of the human and Chimeran firearms make their triumphant return and a couple new additions pop up, the weaponry is slimmed down, less creative and, in my opinion, less exciting.

Also, apparently a lot of folks did not like the way the first story was told. Between chapters, you watched a short cutscene wherein a British operative tells about the exploits of Nathan Hale with maps, photos and blueprints dancing in and out of the background. You were then dropped into Hale’s boots to continue the tale, making you feel like something of a living legend while you mowed down the masses of Chimeran baddies.

Resistance 2’s story is told on the fly, with the game seldom leaving the first person perspective. The intent was to create a more immersive experience, but less story and sometimes difficult to understand commands (hard to hear a conversation when I’m dodging hedgehog grenades) left me feeling like the tale lacked a bit of “umph.”

Other than those gripes, and a much shorter campaign mode (maybe eight hours), I absolutely loved Resistance 2.

The visuals are iffy at times and the difficulty occasionally hits the gas pedal out of nowhere, but otherwise the experience was quite enjoyable. The story was good enough to keep me guessing about what part three will hold and the action didn’t slow down too often. When the greys (think fast zombie aliens with no guns) start pouring over fences and out of buildings in massive droves, you’ll finish knowing you’ve just been in a fight.

While not the best shooter around, a nice collection of epic confrontations make for a memorable battle. Res 2 has some of the most intense moments I can remember in a FPS. Taken as a whole, though, not so much. Thankfully, the story mode is only part of the package, as competitive and co-op multiplayer each bring something new to the table.

Competitive (now sporting a massive 60-man roster) has all the standard events you’d expect in this type of game. You can capture flags and mindlessly blast random opponents to your heart’s content. The new skirmish mode, though, is where competitive truly shines. Divide 60 people into two teams, break that even further into groups of five, and give each group ever-changing objectives to tackle in one big map.

You can run off and play however you want, but more points are awarded to players who work as a team and complete their objectives. Two squads may wind up in a firefight, another two may battle for control of a power core and still another group may have to guard a single player while the other team tries to kill him. Rather than just running around and shooting everything that moves, skirmish feels closer akin to a co-op experience where all the bad guys are controlled by other players.

Finally, we get to the crowning jewel of Resistance 2, the co-op.

In co-op, eight players are thrust into various combat situations while exploring a massive map. Thanks to the class system, this isn’t just another run-and-gun experience. Medics drain life from bad guys and give health to teammates, soldiers provide massive firepower and can produce shields for everyone to hide behind, and special ops take out the enemy from long distance while serving as the sole source of ammo for their comrades. This forces teamwork and communication, and the end result is a lot of fun. Leveling up your various classes means new weapons and abilities, which in turn means more and more ways to play the game.

Resistance 2 is big, plain and simple. And this time, bigger does mean better. While the series does not quite carry the same weight as, say, Gears of War or Call of Duty, Resistance has managed to carve out its own high spot in the crowded genre and, thankfully, provides an experience that’s truly unique.

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