Resistance: Fall of Man Review
Interesting setting and fun weapons ultimately save this shooter from falling into mediocrity
Resistance: Fall of Man (often called Resistance or abbreviated to RFoM) is a PS3 exclusive first person shooter from the developer Insomniac Games, better known for their work on another PS3 exclusive series, Ratchet and Clank. Resistance was Insomniac’s first attempt at an FPS title, and it was a very hotly anticipated game since its announcement. Set in an alternate version of the 1950’s, the game follows the actions of the player as Nathan Hale, a member of the USA Army Rangers sent to the UK to battle an unknown threat that has taken over Europe. The Sci-Fi nature of the game shines in every aspect, from the story and characters down to the enemies and weapons you get to use. It is an often engaging and fun shooter that places you in a lot of interesting and engaging situations. The game is linear and action packed, and there are very few gameplay elements other than shooting aliens and pushing buttons to open doors. Non the less, it is an above average title that’s worth checking out if you are looking for a shooter with a fun selection of weapons and an interesting story with a good share of twists.
The story of Resistance is told in retrospect by a member of the British Forces and her experiences with a US Ranger Nathan Hale (the player). It is an interesting take on story telling that is rarely found in games and is more prominent in cinema. The backstory of the game is based on a sudden alien invasion of Earth that begins in early 1950s. The aliens, called the “Chimera”, began in deep Russia and have then quickly taken over the rest of the continent, destroying everything in their path and turning any survivors into their own soldiers using the “Chimeran virus”. It is assumed then that the virus was of extra-terrestrial origin, but once it arrived on Earth it simply infected all living population – so you are fighting transformed humans rather than actual aliens from space. After completely covering the continent, the virus has somehow crossed the waters into England, where the British had a great opportunity to prepare for what was coming. The defenses did not hold though, and British were quickly pushed back inland until becoming almost completely surrounded. At this point a distress signal was sent to the USA, an a few elite squads were sent to help out defeat an “uncategorized enemy”.
The player, as Nathan Hale, is one of those soldiers sent into the unknown British lands. Upon landing, your squad is soon attacked by virus-carrying bugs. Amazingly, you are the sole survivor and you have been infected with the virus, but you are able to survive the infection. You now possess increased metabolism, increased strength and limited health regeneration, and your pupils have become gold/yellow, somewhat like the Chimera. This does not stop you from continuing on, and you seem to experience very little side effects from the infection. Your comrades, however, increasingly take note of your behavior and are cautions around you. As you continue your battle against the invasion, you visit various important locations believed to be the centers of the alien production and source of power. Due to your new abilities, any squads you travel with are quickly killed off while you keep advancing towards the objectives. Towards the end of the game, things become more interesting as your infection starts to develop and all kinds of consequences come into play. However, the further you advance the less teammates you meet until eventually you are alone, clearing hoards of enemies by yourself. Without giving away anything, the game has definite clues that another chapter in the series will come.
Resistance is a first-person shooter set in an alternate history, and many of its gameplay features stem from this, most notably the weapons. Some weapons are based on real weapons of the 1950s, while most weapons are futuristically altered in accordance with the game's storyline. In any shooter, weapons are one of the most important aspects of gameplay and this is where Resistance really excels. The time-appropriate weapons such as shotguns and rifles are of good use and have just as much stopping power as the futuristic weapons. However, the futuristic weaponry is the most fun to use – each gun is originally designed and easily distinguishable. There is ample opportunity to use enough of each type of weapon to get a feel for it and what situations to use it in. All of the alien weapons have at least one unique feature that makes it both cool and useful to fire. There’s a weapon with a lock-on tag that, once placed on an enemy, guides all your bullets towards the enemy from any position, most notably around corners. There’s a weapon that is able to shoot through solid matter until it reaches the target. There is a weapon that produces a shield which absorbs all incoming fire for a limited time, while you are able to take out your enemies. Needless to say, weapons in Resistance are a ton of fun to use. But, shooting isn’t everything without some good targets. For the majority of the game, you will be fighting the Chimera in its various forms and mutations. Ranging from super-sized monsters to small spider-like creatures, there is a wide range of enemies during the campaign to keep you entertained, if not particularly engaged. There are also a few chapters where you are able to drive a vehicle or pilot a robot, but those sections are very simplistic in nature.
Resistance is a linear shooter, but as such it does not create the “infinitely spawning enemies” situation, which allows you to take time as you clear the room before entering rather than rushing through to the next checkpoint so you can conserve some ammo. You are able to carry as many weapons as you wish at any time, and freely switch between them when out of ammo. If you are out, or really close to the enemy, you can also do a melee attack which very often insta-kills the baddy, but does have a cooldown so you cannot spam the attack. There is an option to use a button or the SIXAXIS motion controls for your melee action. Obviously the button method is a lot easier to use and is more responsive, but don’t think that you are safe – there is a type of enemy in the game that loves to jump on you if you get close enough, and the only way to break free is to shake your controller like mad. It’s a gimmick, but at least it is not forced – as long as you stay away from this slow-moving enemy, you will not have to shake anything. The levels in the game are varied, but there are only three types: urban England, country side England, and “transformed” England. The setting is not very memorable nor detailed, and the different locales are mostly generic, save for a few battles inside alien towers. Overall though, there is nothing particularly breathtaking in the design or execution of the game’s setting, but it serves well enough as a backdrop for killing some aliens.
Resistance features a multiplayer mode for up to 40 players online with a 4 player offline coop and competitive modes. The multiplayer runs at a locked 30 frames per second, regardless of the amount of enemies on screen, which is a very nice feature to have when things get busy. There is also a built-in clan system so it is easy to get a team together and play some competitive matches to raise your global rank. There is a wide variety of Ranked matches to be had, such as the usual free-for-all, deathmatch and team objective. Offline, you have the choice of competitive split screen or coop action. However, one change is that there are no vehicles in offline coop mode compared to the single player campaign.
Resistance is one of the shooters that was hyped up to be a great exclusive for the PS3, but it doesn’t quite live up to the challenge. The visuals, an important aspect of the next generation wave of titles, are just average. There are nice effects here and there, but characters and locales look blocky and uneven, with a huge lack of AA on objects in the distance. Without the pretty visuals to sell the game, there is not much left in the presentation department – sound and voice acting are very generic and forgettable. The music is at least catchy and fits the atmosphere well. The characters of the story are thin and nobody except the main narrator has more than a few lines (including the main character, who remains strangely mute through most of the game).
Resistance: Fall of Man is by no means a bad game, not even below average, but it is simply not the great shooter title that many Insomniac fans have anticipated. The shooting is great, so if that is all you are looking for out of an FPS (which some people are, which is fine) then you will find hours of fun with the single player, and the online components. However, if you are looking for a more well-rounded game that has a good story and visuals in addition to the great action, you may have to look elsewhere or just have a fun romp with this title without thinking too much about it.