So many shooters over recent years have grabbed you by the hand and dragged you along for the ride. They strap you into their linear rollercoaster so tight that it hurts. From that point on, you spend every waking moment waiting for the end, begging for some breathing room and a chance to just soak it all in. That rollercoaster just keeps on rolling until you want nothing but to get off.
Few of these games manage to mask their linear ways, to hide away their walls and give you that elusive sensation that makes you think that you’re the one deciding where to go. These games provide a reason to jump on board, to grasp hold of that hand and to buckle that belt yourself. Resistance 3 can now be counted amongst the ranks of games that are road trips, that provide meaningful incentives to continue.
Resistance 3′s intended incentive for this journey is Joe Capelli, an ex military man with a wife and kid, who has been dragged away from those he loves by a crazed scientist. The alien Chimera have tightened their grip on the world – their dominance is both clear and frightening – and in hopes of finding a cure-all, Joe must make the long and arduous trip cross-country to New York.
It’s a premise set up through the game’s slow, methodical beginning. Though even this slow start doesn’t allow enough of a ramp up for a connection to its characters to be made. The game immediately asks you to feel its emotions rather than earning them, and the bond with its protagonist never comes. Yet Resistance 3 still has a personal reason to continue along its path, a human one. The character beats it hits may be a stretch at times, but it’s the deeply human impact of the ongoing war that’s the game’s driving force.
Resistance 3 sells a sense of hopelessness and destruction that’s simultaneously engrossing and shocking. It does an even better job at ensuring it allows enough time to soak it all in. Most of your time is simply spent walking – or skulking – through what little ramshackle defences are left, avoiding the Chimera at every possible turn. It’s moments like these that hammer home a constant sense of vulnerability that’s prevalent throughout the entirety of the game’s campaign.
Its levels play out as homages to many different shooters. Not too long into a mission will the sudden “Ah ha!” moment hit you of where you may have seen it before. Yet more often than not, Resistance 3 manages to stamp its own identity on them.
Every building you burst out of or tunnel you emerge from greets you with another scene depicting the brevity and scale of a losing war. Each situation you enter feels like it was already happening before you arrived, that the whole world isn’t centred around you. It’s an important distinction to make.
The world’s sense of vulnerability couldn’t feel at a wider juxtaposition with the sheer gunplay joy that unleashes once the firefights begin. After numerous players bemoaned its absence from the second game in the series, Resistance 3 sees the return of the weapon wheel and with it, ready access to a massive arsenal.
As always, the weapons available for use and the enemies you face diversify as the game progresses, though even early on there’s a constant sense of chaos to every battle. Swarms of Chimera – ground troops, armoured brutes and some of the flying variety – are all thrown in to the blood soaked melting pot.
With so many different enemy types and arms at the ready, battles are tense and rarely frustrating. While the game ensures that the ammunition and health you need are provided, it’s the act of managing their amounts and their locations mid-battle which adds the extra layer of tactical thought.
The range of weapons on offer also carry over to the game’s multiplayer, which is entertaining if not particularly exciting or new. You’re again climbing the ever-familiar progression ladder of unlocks, perks and skins, all with an admittedly nice looking Resistance skin. The series’ love of distinct guns does manage to mix things up, though the disparity between a beginning player and those who’ve invested the time for later unlocks feels even wider because of it.
Fortunately, singleplayer skirmishes are broken up with yet more downtime, something so many shooters skip on past. Expect silent moments that have you traversing what was seconds ago a lively battlefield. Wander through the last few remaining human encampments, where the effect of the war on humanity can truly be seen. Witness the disgusting, selfish destruction of any form of society. It’s a sombre road trip at best.
Yet it’s when Resistance 3 moves away from the bigger picture that is begins to lose its focus and sight of its end goal. After the explosive opening, the game begins to meander and becomes bogged down, and no one moment ever truly manages to match the heights set by its first hours.
Its homages begin to feel less like interpretations on classics. Levels start to feel like they’re ticking a back of the box checklist of ‘how to make a shooter’, and the twists and turns that stitch them together begin to become even more abrupt. The game, sadly, takes a liking to funnelling you down tunnels and corridors, eschewing its open spaces and vistas in the process.
As it does so, Resistance 3 asks you to care about its sudden and new-found shifts in focus, and it’s hard to go along with. You can’t quite escape the feeling that later moments in the campaign would have had so much more impact if they’d been at the end of a slower build-up, rather than a single moment. Its abrupt twists and turns culminate in an even abrupter end.
So it’s a journey that peters out towards the end. Though at times, it’s one that shows glimpses of returning to what grabbed you so violently to begin with. No sooner do you begin to question some of its corridor crawls, than it throws you back into a vast, open environment with yet another of its haunting vistas before you. That feeling of helplessness returns as the world continues to revolve around anything but you. You remember why you were on this trip to begin with.
As much as Resistance tries, you’re not here for the protagonist attachment. Some of its side characters do a better job than that. No, you’re here to be a part of its version of a humanity only just managing to hold on. It’s a road trip that can put its foot through the accelerator at times – it speeds up as the game’s impatience to arrive at its end begins to show. Thankfully, it’s also a trip that returns to what it does best more often than not, a methodical and measured walk through a world ripped apart. Thankfully, on a journey to New York, there’s a lot of walking to do.