Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Resistance: Fall of Man

Tech Info :

Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Insomniac Games
Release Date: Nov 14, 2006
ESRB Descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

Graphics & Sound:
Because of all the hype surrounding the PlayStation 3’s graphics, Resistance: Fall of Man is a sure target for visual scrutiny. True, the game doesn’t do much more than other first-person shooters, but it does everything a first generation title should do. It gives you just enough to show what the new hardware is capable of. At the same time, it doesn’t show everything the hardware can do and leaves room for growth.

The sense of scale and clarity of the visuals are what impressed me the most about Resistance. Even on a standard definition set, the game looks good. On a HD set, it looks great as long as it is viewed at its native 720p resolution. My impressions of the game upscaled to 1080i weren’t good. There isn’t much variety among the different Chimera you face, but the designs are neat to look at. Nathan Hale, the main character, is one of the better looking player models I’ve seen in a game. You don’t seem him much, but the model (as well as other character models) is devoid of the fake, plastic look found in many next-generation character models.

One of my few visual nit-picks was the lack of consistent lighting and shadow. Some light sources showed off great lighting while others didn’t. Chalk this up to the visual scrutiny I mentioned earlier.

Resistance’s soundtrack is the loud, booming orchestral stuff you’d expect to hear in epic war movies. There are times where it is barely noticeable, only to flourish when the action picks up. There isn’t much voicework in the game, but what is there is pretty good compared to the standards set by other games. I was really happy with weapon report, which have the impact other games lack.

Resistance: Fall of Man takes place in an alternate universe where, much to the chagrin of many game developers, WWII never took place. In the absence of one big world throwdown, political tensions are running high, allowing a virus-infected race known as the Chimera to slowly take over the world. At the start of the game, the Chimera’s influence has spread from their origin in Russia across to England. You play as Nathan Hale, a solider with the United States Army that is just now getting into the war.

It is really easy to want to compare Resistance to Halo, the current “standard” when it comes to console first-person shooters. And, while Resistance does stack up well to Halo, it actually shares more in common with another Insomniac game, Ratchet & Clank.

It is an odd comparison, but hear me out. Although the two are completely different genre-wise, Resistance features the same smart level design and attention to craft as Ratchet & Clank. Levels are very linear, but give the illusion that they are bigger than they really are. The effect doesn’t come off quite as good as it does in R&C, but levels still follow something of a progressive story from start to finish. Early on, this translates into lots of empty hallways connecting enemy-filled rooms, but later on things begin to open up a bit.

Layout and pacing is also similar. Health and ammo are placed in areas that just make logical sense. It is rare that you’ll go long without seeing at least one of either, yet there isn’t an overabundance of them. Early on, you gain the ability to heal one health bar, so you’re never left completely desperate. Instead, the regenerating bar simply gives you that little bit of lifeline you need to hopefully make it through to the next area. This also adds a small level of strategy to what would otherwise be a standard shooter. You’ll have to decide when to retreat and heal up during fights. It also makes cover a little more important since you’ll want to duck down and heal a bar before popping back up and shooting.

Although most of the game is played as a first-person shooter, there are also a few vehicle levels scattered around. These include tanks, Jeeps and a Chimeran walker that a lot like Deadlocked’s Landstalker. All handle really well and feel right. The Jeep is fast while the tank is slow. The only downside is that vehicle levels aren’t that common and, with the exception of a Jeep ride a third of the way through the game, aren’t that long.

As you progress through the single-player campaign, you can uncover files that offer backstory on the Chimera as well as completing a number of challenges that earn you skill points. These can later be spent on unlockables, like art galleries. The single-player game can be played through as a co-op campaign, completely changing the game’s dynamic. Unfortunately online co-op isn’t available, so not as many people will have a chance to experience it.

Resistance’s multiplayer side contains six different online game types. A variety of maps are available that support anywhere from 8 to 40 players. Game types include standards like Capture the Flag and Deathmatch, as well as a survival mode called Conversion, and Breach and Meltdown, where you defend points on a map. The online games I played were lag-free, though I was unable to find a 40-man game. This should pick up once more consoles are off eBay and available to players. Resistance offers clan support, as well as an in-game Friend List. You’ll also earn medals based on your performance during matches.

One of the neat things about multiplayer games is that you can choose to play as either the humans or Chimera. Each plays differently. Humans have access to an in-game radar and sprint ability while the Chimera can enter a “rage” mode where they become stronger, faster and gain the ability to see through walls. Both races seem balanced and teams switch sides between rounds, so if one does have an advantage, both teams have it.

Again, Resistance’s pacing is handled well and lends itself to different play styles. There is lots of cover for more cautious players and plenty of fighting room for anyone who just likes to run in and shoot. The best way to tackle Resistance is by staying balanced and using both styles. During large-scale battles, you’ll find yourself at the end of several gun barrels, so caution is the preferred method. During closed-quarter fights, it is better to take the fight to the small groups of enemies. The game’s pacing promotes having to change tactics on the fly. You could clear out a room only to have a swarm of bugs suddenly bum rush you or face a surprise Chimera attack.

As you progress through the campaign, your progress is saved through checkpoints. Checkpoints aren’t all that common, but like health and ammo, are evenly spaced. You never feel like you’re being severely punished for dying. You’ll be thankful for this later in the game when it becomes much, much harder.

Game Mechanics:
Weapon design is what helps to separate Resistance from other first-person shooters. Your arsenal consists of a variety of weapons and includes both fictional real-world weapons, as well as an array of fantastic weapons. You begin with a standard machine gun with a grenade launcher attached and soon uncover the Bullseye, a rifle that lets you tag enemies, turning your bullets into homing rounds. Over the course of the game, your arsenal will expand to include a sniper rifle, a gun with ricocheting rounds and a gun that shoots through walls. Each weapon also has alternate firing modes. For example, one gun lets you deploy energy shields and another lets you eject the clip into the air and unload it on several enemies.

Once again drawing parallels with Ratchet & Clank, weapons are balanced. Weapons earned earlier in the game are just as useful as ones found later in the game and there are several times in the game where you’ll find yourself falling back on your machine gun not because you have to, but because it is the best weapon for the job.

Resistance follows the same basic control scheme as other console first-person shooters. The overall response is excellent, though once or twice I had the controller cut out on me. At one point, I kept moving even though I wasn’t pushing the analog stick and another time it shut down and gave me a “Please Connect Controller” message. This seems to be more of a hardware problem since I experienced the same thing while playing Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom.

It is also worth noting how Resistance uses the Sixaxis’ motion sensor. At points in the game, enemies will run up to you and grab you. If this happens, you can shake him off by shaking the controller.

Resistance: Fall of Man is something every first-person shooter fan should check out. It may not do many things differently, but what it does differently helps to make it stand out. If you’re still undecided on a launch title to go along with your PS3, Resistance: Fall of Man is your best bet.

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