Resistance 2 Review
The sequel surpasses the original in many ways, but stumbles on some of the new content
Resistance 2 is a sci-fi first person shooter developed by Insomniac Games, and is a follow-up to Resistance: Fall of Man. This review may contain many references to the original game’s plot and characters, so it is advisable that you’ve played through the original game before taking on the sequel. Resistance 2 does not offer much setup or explanation for any new players, jumping right into the action of where the first game left off. The setting is still an alternate version of the 1950s with the Chimera virus spreading around the globe, finally making its way across the ocean to North America, though not yet completely taking over. Resistance 2 is a very true to its nature sequel, taking all the elements from the previous game and attempting to improve on them, while adding new enemies, locations and improved visuals. As far as sequels go, it is a fan’s dream for so many little tweaks and changes to be implemented in the next game, but unfortunately it is not all for the better. On paper, Resistance 2 really shines as a sequel to a fun but somewhat linear shooter – yet on its own, it is still a title troubled by various gameplay annoyances that keep it from becoming a must-own title.
After destroying the Central Chimera Tower in London in Fall of Man, Nathan Hale is extracted by Black Ops soldiers. When they arrive at the destination base in Iceland, they find it under attack by Chimera forces. Their VTOL is shot down by a Chimera Goliath and only Hale and Major Richard Blake survive. As the two make their way to safety, they encounter and unknowingly unleash Daedalus, an incredibly powerful Chimeran creature that is apparently controlling the Chimera. Hale and Blake run across a Russian scientist Malikov, and are able to safely extract him to America. At this point the player finds out about the Sentinels, others like yourself who have been exposed to the Chimeran virus and who take regular injections of an antivirus to prevent them from transforming into one of the Chimeran creatures. Two years go by, and Hale rises through military ranks to become a leader of a special tactics squad that is trained to deal with the most severe Chimeran threats. He continues to take his daily medicine to keep the transformation under control, and things are going relatively well. However, at this point the Chimera launch their first full-scale attack on USA and Hale is called into action with his squad. The rest of the story focuses on various locations and threats that Hale neutralizes across the country, all building up to some huge set pieces and fun boss battles. Then there’s the subplot of Hale never having time to take his medication during the campaign which negatively affects his humanity as the virus takes over. Towards the end of the game, for better or for worse, things boil down to almost exactly the same formula as the original. There are even some extremely similar set pieces in terms of gameplay situations, which is nothing but disappointing. The story keeps progressing at a steady pace, much like the original, though one huge improvement is on how the game ends, which is a big step up from the first game. Overall though, the plot remains cliché and fairly thin.
Insomniac Games clearly took a long look at the original title and the fan feedback, and have brought some great changes to the gameplay, but also some new issues. One of the best aspects of the original – the weapons – all return in full force with their secondary fire features in tact. The weaponry once again feels very fun to use and to destroy the waves of oncoming enemies. However, one significant change in Resistance 2 is that you are only able to carry two weapons at a time – this presents the player with all kinds of extra decisions regarding weapon selection and ammo management. In the original, you were able to carry as many weapons as you could find, making switching easy and conserving ammo not really a problem. With this change, the game forces you to think quite a bit regarding what weapons you wish to have with you, if there is enough ammo for this room and the next. This idea doesn’t sound all that upsetting on paper, it just adds more depth to the game. But for me, this meant that I often had to scout the ground for a new weapon or more ammo for a gun once I ran out. This takes you out of the experience, and becomes rather frustrating at some parts of the game when you must constantly switch weapons in every new area because the game world no longer has ammo for the current weapon you are carrying. Granted, if you are totally out of ammo in both weapons, there are still your trusty melee options; this time they include either a hit with your weapon or a knife swipe. Both are effective and can be one-hit kills for most of the game’s basic enemies. The new selection of weapons is thin, but that is ok because the original arsenal is such a strong suit of the game it needed little change. While the way you dispatch of baddies remains the same, the way you die has changed a bit. The developers got rid of the health bar and aid packs from the original title in favor of the modern regenerating health system. There is no bar, simply stay in cover long enough to recover your full health.
Resistance 2 takes you a lot closer to home this time around, with the vast majority of the game taking place across the 1950s US locales. Since the historical timeline is completely different, the developers were not overly concerned regarding recreating any true to life replicas of the 50s era, though there are some landmarks that the player will come across. The gameplay continues to guide the player through various buildings, hallways and alleys on their way to the next rendezvous point or enemy target. The game remains linear, which is somewhat disappointing as there are plenty of opportunities to at least let the player choose one of two paths to reach an objective. Majority of the gameplay consists of clearing out a building, getting separated and regrouping with your squad, and avoiding water as there are new fish-like Chimera in it. Yes, it seems with the alien takeover, almost 50 percent of the environments you travel through are covered in water so you perform a lot of platforming in the game. There are also completely dark buildings and tunnels that you must often adventure through, alone of course, so be prepared for stuff jumping out at you from cocoons. A lot of the enemies from the original game return, along with some new types such as the Overlords or the Chameleons. The latter are especially annoying, as they are completely invisible up until a second before one-hit killing you. The gameplay idea here is that you have to twitch-kill them as they make noise and appear in front of you for just a second before striking – the problem is this creates quite a bit of needless trial-and-error gameplay so that you know from which direction they will appear from. At one point, I was actually stuck on one of these enemies – at one checkpoint in the game, it kept spawning behind me (instead of in front like it is supposed to) leading me to die continuously with no chance to turn around, so the only solution was to restart the level. Does it add to the immersion and suspense? Absolutely not, as these enemies appear randomly through the campaign with no prior warning to be on the lookout, leading to more checkpoint restarts. Overall, the game very quickly settles on a pattern – either let the player fight a number of regular enemies, swamp the player with a ton of small and quick enemies, or let the player fight two or three huge enemies at once. This pattern repeats through the whole game, occasionally combining two of these three encounter types to provide a greater challenge.
Mutliplayer in Resistance 2 returns once again as a huge part of the experience. Competitive mode features support for up to 60 players during the Skirmish mode, which is a record for the highest amount of players in an online PS3 title, and is only set to be beaten by the upcoming MAG. Mutliplayer modes include the familiar Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Skirmish. Unlike the original, Resistance 2 does not offer co-op for the single player campaign offline or online. Instead, the new cooperative mode features a separate campaign which runs parallel to the single-player campaign. The players battle incoming waves of enemies while completing objectives on maps modified from single player. There are three classes to choose from: Special Ops, Soldiers, and Medics – all with corresponding functions and special perks. The ranking system is also identical to the original Resistance, with players progressing through 20 ranks with 3 tiers. As you progress through the ranks, players unlock various items such as different skins and in-game advantages. The multiplayer remains a strong part of the package in Resistance 2, but the omission of the single player co-op campaign is disappointing.
There is no doubt that the game has gone through a huge graphical overhaul since the original, and after the first hour or so, I was almost ready to call it one of the best looking games of the year in large-scale visuals. Unfortunately, this feeling faded as I advanced through the game and found myself in small rooms, buildings and narrow streets, taking away from any kind of grand scale feeling there was at the start. The environments still look solid though, but the breathtaking visuals of opening levels sadly do not make very many reappearances. The weaponry also got a facelift, with your guns looking great and weapon modes producing all kinds of visual havoc. Character models are also well done, especially with some of the facial speech captures making things look very realistic. The voice acting has not changed much, though Hale finally speaks a fair bit of dialogue compared to the first game, so you can get a better sense of his character. The soundtrack remains very similar to the original, with many sound bytes likely being re-used. The presentation in Resistance 2 is strong, but there is still a feeling that it is just not as creative as it could have been.
Resistance 2 is very much a fan’s sequel. The developer learned many lessons from the original title, and wanted to please their dedicated fan base which they undoubtedly succeeded in. However, perhaps there is yet another lesson to be learned – the dedicated fan base may not always know what is best for them, or for the casual audience. Resistance 2 is bigger, louder, but unfortunately not a huge deal better than the original. Many of the issues from the first game are resolved, and some new great ideas were implemented along with a graphical overhaul. But with some changes being tailored to the hardcore rather than those just looking for a fun shooter experience, and a few gameplay additions not quite being fully realized, Resistance 2 manages to be only marginally better than its predecessor.