Resistance: Fall of Man

There's a few of those evil Chimera that think it's okay to invade my planet... I'll run over and shoot them, after all, there's only three of them, I'll be able to take them down with this rather sexy bullseye gun. Here goes... charge! Shoot! Argh! I then see my character lying on the floor in black and white whilst triumphant Chimera stand over his body checking for any remaining signs of life. There are none.

That was my first experience with Resistance: Fall of Man and it was brilliant. For too long now, first person shooters have spoonfed weapons, tactics, tips and more as you plod through a nice comfortable difficulty curve, gradually working towards the end. Resistance, from the genius developers (Insomniac Games) behind the absolutely outstanding Ratchet and Clank games have created a fresh take on the first person shooter genre and, with it, arguably the best launch game for Playstation 3.

Resistance: Fall of Man

You play as Nathan Hale, an American soldier sent in to assist the remaining European forces in their fight against an invasion by the Chimera, an alien species apparently intent on taking over the Earth and converting any humans into Chimerans themselves. Not long into the game, Hale comes under attack from Chimeran forces in a brutal assault that will change him forever and drastically alter the game dynamic. The most significant change is that Hale has the ability to regenerate a portion of his health when he has the chance to rest, an attribute with remarkable similarity to that of the Chimeran regenerative abilities. From this point on, armed with an impressive array of American, European and Chimeran weaponry, Hale charges through the Chimeran ranks, travelling around familiar locations in England of the 1950s, trying desperately to forceback an invasion that has almost resulted in the complete extermination of humanity in Europe.

For a first person shooter to succeed, the weapons and controls are two absolutely essential aspects. Moving around as Hale is closer to the more traditional shooters like Call of Duty and Medal of Honour and less like the frantic, twitchy motions of the extremely enjoyable TimeSplitters games. Though the movement is slightly slower next to TimeSplitters, you are still far from crawling and can sprint across open ground, dodging enemy fire and grenades chucked in your direction. To take out your opponents, the weapons on hand are exceptional, as you'd expect from Insomniac after the highly inventive and entertaining weaponry on offer in Ratchet and Clank.

As an example, the most commonly used Chimeran weapon is the Bullseye. On it's own, it's a powerful piece of kit, particularly at close range, but where it comes into its own is through its secondary function. By pressing L1 (instead of the usual trigger R1, though the controls are fully customizable) you can try and "tag" the enemy. If successful, you can simply fire at will and watch as a torrent of bullets shoot of into the sky, only to arc severely back towards the tagged location, converging on your helpless victim.

The Bullseye isn't the only weapon that's worth a mention. The sniping, with the help of another of Hale's mysterious powers, is excellent fun, whilst heavy guns like the Sapper (firing alien bubbles of goo as ground traps in front of you) and the Auger (capable of shooting through walls and generating shields) are truly superb. Add to that a pleasing variety of grenades (including the fantastic hedgehog grenade) and other machine guns, rocket launchers and flamethrowers and you've got a decent arsenal in place to take on the enemy.

Resistance: Fall of Man

The story in Resistance is quite intriguing, with Hale and his European allies attempting to undermine the Chimeran occupation, but the game is especially successful through it's difficulty level. Even on "medium" this game is not easy. There were certain sections I had to try several times before I had any success, including one level where, after withstanding an assault from a large number of footsoldiers, I was confronted by several larger, more formidable walking monstrosities with very few resources left to fling at them. The delicate balance of health and difficulty keeps you on edge at all times, constantly striving to make the perfect attack, forcing you always to choose your weapons carefully to minimize the health lost in every encounter.

One of the best things about the game is that the Chimerans aren't just strong, menacing alien creatures, they're also clever. If you run at three of them, they'll surround you and take you down, often with a melee attack if they're close enough. If you stay back, they'll duck for cover and take potshots from hiding. They know how to compete with you, so you have to think carefully before you make a move. Sometimes, you'll have to run back even further if they use the Auger to break your cover by force. One thing's for certain, you can't take on the Chimera without a plan in place.

Happily, the single player game lasts a decent length of time as first person shooters go. It's no Final Fantasy, but should keep players happy for a while, particularly since there is also a cooperative mode - a feature I wish was available in virtually every game. The main addition to lastability though is the online play. That PS3 games will look good is pretty much a given. That PS3 games will play well is down to the developers, but excellent games will always come along from time to time. That PS3 games will have good online features... was a bit of an unknown before the release of PS3. Whether or not Sony will develop an online network to rival that of other consoles isn't certain, though the Playstation Store has made a good start whilst features like Home, due for release later in 2008, suggest that the future is bright for Sony's online plans. As far as games go though, Resistance is the perfect start in the world of online play. Bringing together groups of up to 40 players for seamless, stable online fun, Resistance has made an excellent impression.

Resistance: Fall of Man

From the main menu, it's a simple process to select the online multiplayer mode. From there, the choice of ranked games (where you can earn medals and ribbons whilst improving your rank) or custom games can be found, as well as community options where you can form parties and clans so that you can stick together with friends. The main focus is likely to be ranked games and joining one couldn't be easier. Either alone or in a party, you can elect to join a game and the server will automatically set you up in a match against players of similar ability.

The available modes range from deathmatches and team deathmatches through to objective based team affairs such as capture the flag and meltdown (in which teams fight to take control of nodes spread across the map). The flexibility and decent level design ensures that each of the modes works extremely well. On top of that, the games themselves run very smoothly, never stuttering at all provided your internet connection is reasonable. Beyond that, the most important thing to note is that, with full headset support, it's relatively easy to keep in contact with friends online. Here, we tend to meet up at the XMB in advance, head off to play Resistance, form a party, then take part in games and chat amongst our squad whilst we play. So far, there really isn't anything better on PS3 with regards online play and hopefully future games will take notes from the successful start Resistance has made.

If you have an HDTV, Resistance looks pretty stunning, but even on an SDTV, particularly if you have a reasonable cable (get yourself an RGB cable at the very least) it looks excellent. The game doesn't shout "next generation" at the top of it's lungs like perhaps fellow launch title Motorstorm does, but there's nothing sloppy about it's presentation and style. The character models, whilst perhaps a little waxy and pale, are pretty realistic and the various types of Chimeran foe, ranging from tiny critters to footsoldiers, through to enormous spiderlike creatures, all move with alien, but believable motions. The levels are nicely put together and, although they may not reflect areas such as Bristol very accurately, it'll likely have a familiar British feel for parts of the game before Hale ventures deeper into enemy territory that will gradually become more and more alien in nature.

Resistance: Fall of Man

There's not really anything to criticize visually other than the fact that there's nothing major to congratulate. As launch games go, it's a decent attempt and the combination of decent visuals and excellent gameplay ensure that this is an exceptional launch title. The only thing I can say is that, within a year, Resistance won't be the game used to show people what the PS3 is capable of. Even now, that honour perhaps resides with Motorstorm.

Musically, things are fairly quiet during the game itself, with themes generally only playing a role during cutscenes, menus and significant passages of play. This dynamic use of music is quite effective during the game, often appearing for short periods of time when a Chimeran assault takes place or, conversely, when your character is very suddenly alone, searching through dark caves, waiting for the next ambush. Personally, I'm a fan of bigger themes and more emotional music, which, used effectively, can really add an extra level of emotion in a situation like that, but the subtle use of music is effective.

More impressive though are a decent array of sound effects. Every gun has a unique sound that single-handedly makes up for the lack of rumble feature in the current PS3 pads. The frantic high pitched jitters of the bullseye are at the opposite end of the spectrum to human counterpart, the M5A2 carbine and the low thrums and booms of the shotgun and grenades. The voice work is also very decent, though Nathan Hale himself is relatively quiet. British soldier Cartwright, a collaborator with Hale for many parts of the game, is particularly fun to listen to, whilst the narrator is much easier to listen to than the average videogame voice.

Resistance: Fall of Man does everything a launch title needs to do and more. It's the best game available for Playstation 3 at the moment and provides a real challenge, even for first person shooter experts. The online and cooperative play are superb and the single player story is great fun. With a few graphical improvements and a few extra features to extend the story, this game could have beaten the best in the genre. As it is, Resistance is embarrassed by none, doing an exceptional job, but there will be better games PS3 before long. For now though, enjoy Resistance, it's one of the best first person shooter games around.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Insomniac Games

Players:

1-2

Online:

1-40

Release:

2007-03-23

Trophies:

0

Review summary

Gameplay:

Great single-player and online multiplayer battles

Graphics:

Definitely next-gen, but room for improvement

Sound:

Excellent voice work and thumping sound effects

Lastability:

Average story length; multiplayer adds depth

9.6

Meteoric

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