Quake of Duty.
There are a number of crackpots, lunatics, cranks and jackasses who will claim that the Holocaust never happened. Let’s not mince words, these people are idiots. But what if there were an alternate history? What if Hitler never amounted to more than a second rate landscape painter? What if a strong Tzar had crushed the Bolshevik revolution?
Over at Insomniac Games, the eventual historical outcome of this thought experiment is almost as terrifying, and it’s called Resistance: Fall of Man. In the 1920s, Russia closes its borders and walls itself off from the world, while Europe unifies under the E.T.O. and enjoys great prosperity. But the global climate is fluctuating strangely, and it seems to be centered on Russia. There are even rumors of horrible biological experiments going on behind the Iron Curtain.
Intelligence reports out of Russia grow stranger and stranger, until suddenly in 1949 the freakish biological constructs known as the Chimera burst through the length of the European border. Their attack is unstoppable and unrelenting, literally spreading like a plague. It is 1951, and the time has come for American involvement…the counter-attack begins in England.
The story and setting is actually one of the most engaging parts of Resistance: Fall of Man, a first-person shooter and launch title for Sony’s mighty new PS3. You take on the role of Nathan Hale, a U.S. Army Ranger and sole survivor of a Chimera attack. Infected with the plague, Nathan absorbs some of the Chimera regenerative powers and physical prowess, rather than falling victim to it. Because of this, Nathan can use the Chimera’s own bio-juice to rapidly rebuild his body and survive otherwise fatal wounds.
And you’ll certainly sustain your share of them in the fairly long single player campaign, which feels a lot like the Call of Duty
series. For good reason, because both games feature frantic battles in bombed out European cities, and both are very linear in order to advance their stories. In fact, many of the battlefields in Resistance
may look open, with humans and Chimera shooting it out, but as you advance, you’ll realize there is only ever one path through the maze of barbed wire, trenches and other obstacles. Still, it’s always easy to find your way forward, just move towards the Chimera and shoot them.
Which you get to do with a satisfying group of interesting weapons. After all, Insomniac are the guys who made Ratchet & Clank
; pretty much all they do is sit around thinking up weird new weapons. You start with a fairly standard assault rifle, but quickly enough you can switch to the standard Chimera armament, the Bullseye. With its alt-fire you can “tag” an enemy and then future shots will home in on the poor tagged victim like a swarm of killer bees. The Auger, on the other hand, only fires in a straight line, but its shots slowly burrow themselves through walls and other obstacles. It can even put up its own floating shield for protection. My favorite is the Hedgehog, a spiny grenade that leaps up into the air and explodes firing spikes in every direction, turning everything nearby into a pincushion.
I can't review a PS3 launch title without talking about the new Sixaxis controller. Movement is tight and responsive, and Resistance uses the motion sensing in a couple ways. You can bring up the map at any point by tilting the controller sideways, which you could also do by just hitting the D-pad. More interesting is when certain types of Chimera grab on to you and start biting, you have to shake them off by literally shaking the controller. The only thing i really missed about the lack of vibration was that it can be hard to tell when you are getting hit, as you can easily miss those red semicircles on the screen when you're in a frantic firefight.
The graphics are solid, and the framerate never stutters. There are, however, textures here and there that don’t look good close up. If the war between the PS3 and the 360 is about graphics, visually, I can’t really tell the difference. The chimera look particularly good and gruesome with their Borg-like external tubing and gaping maws. The tubes even whip around, spewing gas when they get blown out of place. The environments are impressive, too, including a huge cathedral used to shelter the sick and wounded, or a creepy abandoned playground turned battleground.
The sound is just as solid, with excellent narration and voice acting. There’s no real musical score, but the growls of the Chimera are scary and the chatter, boom, whines and rattles of the weapons is satisfying.
A solid experience alone, you can also play split screen with a friend, Halo style. The revive system is a little different, as your companion will eventually recover from death by themselves, but you can hasten the process dramatically if you stop to help. What hurts is that this game lacks online co-op play.
There is plenty of other multiplayer content, though, and this is where Resistance
really shines. Matches can support up to forty players, which I believe is a console record, and even in the midst of a forty player deathmatch, the game stayed smooth. Oddly, many of the multiplayer maps ditch the gritty, realistic feel of the single player game in favor of floating weapon spawns and Quake
-style bounce pads.
On the other hand, players have tremendous control setting up custom games, can adjust many variables, and all the classic multiplayer modes are available. Most interesting to me was one called “Meltdown” where each side has a base with a reactor they must protect. There are also control points around the map that give your base additional defenses, so matches become a balance between defending your base in person, capturing nodes, and attacking the enemy base. The only downside is that none of the vehicles featured in a few levels of the campaign made it into the multiplayer. Some of the maps are huge, requiring long runs to your destination.
Resistance: Fall of Man draws heavily from some of the genre giants like Call of Duty and Halo, and ends up a solid game with great multiplayer, but nothing wholly unique in and of itself. It’s certainly a worthy launch title, and bodes well for both the PS3 and the inevitable sequel. A lot of questions about the Chimera still remain unanswered… and who knows what the past will bring?