War of the World War II.
In any given war, it’s the demagogues that get all the credit, and console wars are no different. While the games hack, blast and slash away, people talk about Microsoft and Sony as if Bill Gates or Ken Kutaragi were the one actually inside their machine chopping up Sith with a light saber. But just as every battle is won or lost by the real soldiers, consoles succeed or perish on the strength of their games, and in Resistance: Fall of Man, the Playstation 3 appears to have found itself a champion.
A first-person shooter developed by Insomniac (of Ratchet & Clank fame), Fall of Man looked finished when we saw it in August, sporting the kind of speed, power and creativity associated with Killer Apps like Halo and God of War. After playing through a couple single player levels, a boss fight, and a dozen rounds of a twenty on twenty multiplayer match type called “Breach,” we think Europeans are going to have another good reason to be pissed off this holiday season. C’est la vie, suckers!
As its title indicates, Fall of Man presents an alternate history in which humanity is on the verge of extinction at the webbed hands of creepy creatures known as the Chimera. Sometime in the 1930’s, Russia withdrew from the world, ostensibly to focus on domestic issues, chug vodka, and develop terrible weapons away from the prying eyes of the international community, but really, they were being butchered and transformed into bug-eyed monsters by a brutal alien collective.
After eating Russia, the Chimera sweep through Western Europe to England where you, Sergeant Nathan Hale, are infected by Chimer-itis, the horrible disease that turns normal people into crazy, gun-wielding zombies (remember, the T-Virus hadn’t been invented yet). Somehow you survive, and from there your exploits are chronicled by the sexy British Intelligence officer, Rachel Parker. Sony executives refused to confirm or deny that she carries your alien baby, because I forgot to ask them.
Luckily, I didn’t forget to ask lots of questions about the weapons. We saw a gun called the Augur (means prophet or fortune-teller) that can shoot white hot death through up to three walls. Even better, its secondary fire deploys a riot-shield sized force field that stops small arms fire, so you take your cover with you wherever you go, kind of like Maurice Clarett.
A gun called the Bull’s Eye seems like your standard death-ray/assault rifle, except the secondary fire shoots a beacon that can either attach to enemies, inanimate objects or friends. If you tag an enemy, every shot fired from then on will home in on them, even if you’re hiding around a corner. If fired at an object, you can then fire a bunch of rounds creating a swarm of bullets, which in turn can be directed at a foe all at once. And in the multiplayer matches, you can tag a friend, cover him with bullets, and send him into battle as a human hand grenade.
And those two are just the tip of the iceberg, we haven’t even begun to talk about the incredible hail storm cannon, rocket launcher (a very tricky weapon), or creepy puss sprayer. Instead, we want to talk about its multiplayer content.
The guys and gals of Insomniac assured us we’d see all the most modern bells and whistles in the online areas of their game, but what interested us most was a match type called “Breach.” In Breach matches, the Chimera and Human forces each have a base with a generator in it. Each generator has only so many hit points, and the goal is to blow up your enemy’s while protecting your own. However, scattered in the field between the two bases are four nodes that can be captured. With every node in your control, your generator gains an automated enhancement, including landmines, sentry cannons, and more powerful weapon spawns for its defenders.
We like this system, because it takes what’s good about Battlefield 2’s Conquest match type, but gives each side a distinct victory condition, as opposed to an abstract counter. We only played a few matches but could already see how this mode, strategically, goes beyond just about anything else on the market, requiring a balance of captured nodes, base defense and offense to win the day.
The same can be said for first-person shooters in general, and that’s why we think Resistance: Fall of Man has a shot at dominating the scene this November. It looks to have solid single player action, cooperative play, incredible weapons, stunning next-gen visuals, and finally, the most daring multiplayer content since Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. Start saving your arms and legs for a PS3, because this game might just take over the world (except for, ironically, Europe) when it ships in November.