It is a funny thing being shown just how much of a soft and a cowardly first-person shooter you have become. Years spent in the decadent, coddling warmth of regenerating health bars and a love affair with knee high concrete walls has left my skin supple and baby-pink, in no way prepared for a game that plays like a shooter from yesteryear.
Like a basketball player who made his way from the streets to the NBA only to return and realise he’s forgotten how to throw elbows, Resistance 3 has reminded me where I came from: the mean streets of finite life points.
That’s the lasting impression of Insomniac’s third Resistance title – a game that looks brilliant but plays like a first-person shooter of old. No cover system, a health bar only regenerated by picking up health packs and a wide variety of unique guns – all of which are available at the same time. It’s like playing a gorgeous, 3D-capable first-person shooter from decades past, and it’s those thoughts that will make familiarity with the loading screen bearable.
That’s not to say that Resistance 3 is particularly hard. The third weapon received picks out the heat signatures of enemies, and the projectile actually increases in velocity the more walls it passes through. If all else fails, shoot from the next town over.
What causes so much game reloading is repeatedly forgetting that life is a fragile and valuable thing. Years of suckling at the regenerative teat of Fenix, Mason and their ilk have conditioned us to belligerently stride into fire-fights, safe in the knowledge that waist high concrete walls have inexplicable healing properties.
Resistance 3 is set in August 1957, four years after the events of Resistance 2. The alien Chimera have won the war and humanity is on the brink of extinction. Joseph Capelli, the last sentinel, must leave his family in Oklahoma and attempt a last-ditch strike against the Chimera in New York.
The preview content we played features guerrilla warfare in small-town Oklahoma, beginning with an on-rails gallery shoot boating up the Mississippi river, and a series of claustrophobic skirmishes in St Louis. Beneath the ruined white picket fences of Haven, Oklahoma lies a vast web of subterranean tunnels occupied by The Resistance. It’s a fine canvas on which to display the bleak, cold-grey alternate history humanity is enduring.
Watching a monstrous Behemoth break through the fog on the banks of Mississippi, or racing through a dark factory with only a weak torch as unknown horrors emerge from pulsating egg sacs is enough to leave the hands aching from gripping the controller too tightly.
Most gameplay scenarios task Joseph with clearing out an area and moving on, or defending a position interspersed with the occasional wild sprint to freedom for good measure. A healthy array of enemies keeps the experience fresh while choosing the perfect weapon for the situation is extremely satisfying.
Courtesy of the Chimera, the arsenal in this alternate reality is far more varied than what we might typically expect to find on grandpa’s gun rack. Each weapon – and there appears to be room for about 11 in total – has primary fire and a secondary fire. It’s these secondary firing abilities that add significant dynamism to the shooting mechanics.
The starting weapons, for example, are a machine gun and a revolver. The machine gun is the standard - not particularly accurate but gets the job done. However, hit an enemy with the secondary fire option and next few seconds of fire home in – great for those targets flying around the screen. On the other hand, the revolver’s primary fire lodges explosive-tipped bullets in the target with while the secondary fire detonates the round.
Other secondary fire abilities include energy shields, sentinel-gun pods and gravity wells, to name but a few. It’s equally refreshing to have all of these weapons available during a fight rather than a load-out limited to two.
Along with their default abilities, weapons are upgraded as they’re used: Jospeh’s experience increases the weapons level and with it new features are unlocked. The aforementioned machine gun initially upgrades to explosive rounds while the revolver upgrades its bullets - giving off a phosphorous-like burn that, if left to get brighter, causes more damage when detonated.
These gameplay vignettes suggest Resistance 3 is a promising title in a crowded genre. It’s undoubtedly a beautiful and enjoyable first-person shooter, one that casts off the shackles of recent cover-based, health-regenerating clones with thought required in combat and an arsenal that shows pleasing variety. Set for release in early September, Resistance 3 is one to follow closely.