Welcome to Earth
Well, I may be a little late in rolling out the welcome mat for the Chimeran invaders. The Resistance franchise made its debut on the PS3 when the console was still in its infancy. Fall of Man filled a void in the PS3's launch. Resistance 2 made in-roads in what was, at the time, a buzz word in the industry: co-operative play. Resistance 3 will go down in the books as the best in the series.
I should note that I haven't yet played the original Resistance titles. I'm not teary-eyed at the loss of Nathan Hale. I could care less about the Chimera virus. I don't even know what these alien bastards are doing in my backyard, but goddamit, I'm going to send them home.
In Resistance 3, you play as Joseph Capelli, family man and, as happenstance would have it, the man who killed Nathan Hale. Despite the prologue setting you up as such a bad guy for this, it never comes up again. Whether you're blasting Chimera while the rest of the town escapes, or meeting up with other resistance members, no one cares who you are.
"Hey Joe," they say. "Help me out over here." Capelli can't help but oblige. Despite, or possibly because of, their earnestness, the supporting cast in Resistance 3 all sound stupider than a stick in a cow patty. Most of them sport silly sounding country accents, but not Joe. In fact, Joe is a bit of a mystery man when you're in control. He'll never utter a word while you're in the first person perspective.
NPCs will bark orders at you, tell you to pick up ammo, or destroy certain objects, but Joe won't reply. At times I wondered why people were just talking at me, instead of with me, but that dysfunction will quickly fall by the wayside. Well, at least until the next cutscene when Joe opens his mouth again.
The semi-silent protagonist harkens back to Valve's Half-Life 2. You'll have deja vu in more than a number of places, most notably in the Ravenholm-paralleling Mount Pleasant, PA. Even Resistance 3's alien architecture calls back to the imposing design of the Combine in City 17. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right?
And if you're going to imitate, you might as well follow the best. I know the Resistance series has a long history of secondary fire options on their weaponry, but I can't help but think of the grenade lobbing SMG in Half-Life 2. Resistance 3 doesn't stop there. The Rossmore shotgun is just as satisfying as HL2's shotgun. Resistance 3 all but hands you a crowbar.... Instead, it hands you a sledgehammer half way through the game.
Let's talk about weapons. In a first-person shooter, your primary mode of interaction with the game is shooting stuff and R3 dishes out the shooting in spades. All you do is shoot. You snipe, blast, freeze, mutate, atomize, perforate and explode enemies in every section of the game. The game skips the needless platforming and trickles new guns to you throughout the campaign. You'll be experimenting with new weapons up until the last quarter of the game.
Each gun has a wonderful rhythm to it, whether you're freezing enemies and then blasting them into tiny pieces, or firing rounds from your magnum into enemies before detonating them, you won't get bored throughout the lengthy campaign. What's more, as you use each gun, they'll level up and unlock newer abilities or just become more powerful in general. That's probably the best reason to play single-player before multiplayer.
The ever-present multiplayer mode obviously makes a showing as well. R3 is a first-person shooter, after all. New modes like Chain Reaction join classics like Team Deathmatch. It's playable, there are plenty of people online, and it's about as fun as any other first person shooter you'll find out there. Some weapons are a little over powered, and if enemies have fully leveled up their kit, you can easily get overwhelmed.
As much time as you may spend in multiplayer matches, the single-player campaign is really the star. Sequences will leave your heart racing; certainly on higher difficulty levels. One section sets your character on a boat in a murky, foggy, flooded area. As enemies jump to your vessel, you'll have to fight them off while also hitting unfriendlies at a distance. The cramped quarters can feel confining at first, but will nevertheless end up terrifying you and leaving you white-knuckled.
Resistance 3 manages to avoid a dirty, brown look, instead favoring contrasting night and day levels, in addition to colorful alien architecture. While the game is a joy to play, it's also a joy to look at. Textures are smart, and environments are packed with nooks and crannies, filled with details to gawk at. Don't get caught staring; the vicious enemy AI will tear you apart if you're not careful.
Resistance 3 treads a line between homage and original work, loads the player up with amazing guns to play with, packs in a passably stocked multiplayer mode, and offers an amazing single-player campaign. It is easily the first major shot in the annual holiday console war. If you're looking at the newly reduced price of the PlayStation 3 and are wondering which game to buy with it, Resistance 3 will happily occupy your console for the long, cold winter months.