Review: Resistance 3

Murderer with a heart of gold
By MADDY MYERS  |  September 13, 2011

Fall is shooter season, and Resistance 3 is the first of many, with Gears of War 3 out next week and Battlefield 3 and Uncharted 3 a few weeks after that. Resistance 3 will likely not emerge as the frontrunner, but those who play it will be impressed by its extensive arsenal and unnerved by its narrative.

HOT TIP Skip the Doomsday edition of Resistance 3’s PS Move controller and rifle attachment — the rifle is uncomfortable and the Move controls are poorly implemented.
The franchise's previous guns-and-grenade types return, all with improvements and variations. The game now uses a med pack system rather than regenerating health; searching for health adds a sense of frantic momentum. Co-op for the campaign has returned, but the class-based co-op multiplayer system from R2 has been scrapped. The "skirmish" mode now involves 16-player online matches with modes like deathmatch and Capture the Flag. It's clear that with its deathmatch rounds Resistance hopes to compete with games like Gears and CoD, but the multiplayer would have been better served by a different direction.

Resistance 3 has done just that in its campaign mode. For starters, your protagonist is no hero. He's Joe Capelli, the soldier who murdered previous protagonist Nathan Hale. Nathan and Joe suffered from the Chimera virus, which has transformed humans across the globe into horrific monsters. At the end of R2, Hale succumbed to the virus at last, his brain overtaken by the Chimeran hive mind. Joe pulled the trigger, a mercy killing.

In R3, Joe explains that Hale's body contained antibodies — enough to create a cure at last. Meanwhile, Joe's been dishonorably discharged from the army for killing Hale. It's now 1957, and the Chimera monsters have all but consumed the planet; only a few human hold-outs remain. And despite the pre–Mad Men time period, Resistance 3 includes female fighters, which actually makes this game more modern than nearly every other shooter on the market.

Explanations about the Chimera and the strange wormhole in the sky above New York can be found in documents around the game, but the cut-scenes focus almost entirely on Joe's depression and powerlessness. At one point, Joe leaps from a broken-down cable car and single-handledly fights a towering monster. After he defeats the beast, other humans run up and congratulate him. He turns to them, his stare heavy with despair. Victory does not matter to him. Praise does not matter to him. It's a far cry from the behavior of the egotistical, loud-mouthed heroes of past shooters.

Despite Joe's gloomy, passive personality, he's managed to get married and sire a son. At his wife's insistence, Joe travels to New York to help save the world with Malikov, the scientist from the previous games. Joe spends much of the game believing he will never see his family again, and that he may not win this war. He meets characters with varying levels of optimism, including a parish of armed fundamentalist Christians full of faith that the Earth will prevail and, later, a group of human raiders who have reacted to its downfall by killing other humans for sport. Fans have complained that these two plotlines are boring and inexplicable, but the stories shed light on Joe's own sense of futility. Should he have blind, unquestioning faith in humanity's ability to overcome? Or should he give in to madness?

The narrative's insistent focus on these questions over the typical unquestioning heroism makes R3 stand out from other shooters. Depending on their point of view, gamers will either remember this story as a haunting, dark horse favorite, or as a disappointment.

  Topics: Videogames , Gears of War, SHOOTER, Nathan Hale,  More more >
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