Review by eddybagel
"An Unbiased Review From Someone New To The Franchise (Campaign Only)"
I thought it was important to stress before I start this review that I've only ever played the demo of the original Resistance, so I was largely coming into the sequel with no expectations after picking up a second-hand copy reasonably cheap. After struggling with the game for a week or so I'm now in the process of searching for my receipt and cobbling together an excuse to return it. Right now I'm thinking 'little brother's birthday/he already had it'.
I should also let you know that I won't be commenting on the multiplayer aspect of the game because I am sick of games getting a free ride on quality online play alone. There are still people out there who value the single player experience. Sad, lonely people who fear the contact of the outside world, I grant you, but by God I am one of them and, as such, I shall review as one. So, with that out of the way, let's get on with the campaign.
As far as story goes, for all I know my character was a vigilante baker turned gun for hire, searching for his lost pork pie hat. I found this ignorance useful because, if it hadn't been for the subtitles, I would never have known which character was talking at any given time. Roid-raged supers soldiers are order of the day and I guess it works for the setting so I'll let the story be; especially given that there is so, SO much more wrong with the game that I'd rather pick at.
I wanted to like this game. The trailers I saw looked like a good mixture between the gritty realism of Modern Warfare and the Zerg rush enemy swarming of Serious Sam. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, the developers managed to get the wires crossed. You've got all the testosterone-fuelled, gravel-voiced soldiers you could ever hope for, trudging and grunting around all the cliche ruined city locales. You've also got enemy forces swelling to numbers that would rival the Chinese population after a famine; the problem, however, is that you also have the ammo conservation ability of Leon S. Kennedy and the survival instinct of a suicide bomber.
Speaking of suicide, be prepared to die in this game. You will die and you will die a lot. I've played games for most of my life and I think I pretty much embody the term casual gamer. Not that pretend casual gamer demographic that Nintendo made up to shift more Wii's, but the kind of gamer that will complete a game, but will never five star 'Through The Fire And Flames' or beat 'Dante Must Die' mode. That being said, even playing through the game on the casual setting, I must have died somewhere in the range of 100 times and somebody has got to be kidding me times.
The damage in this game appears to be completely arbitrary. At times you are so pumped up on machismo that you can take a rocket straight to the face and still gun down fifty enemies in a ten meter radius, probably while some rich orchestral music drums up and you drape yourself in the American flag...Other times you'll turn a corner, get shot once with the weakest gun in the game and be dead instantly. And that's just when the game's feeling fruity.
The classic adage poses the question 'is the man that steals bread to feed his family any less guilty than the man who does it to feed himself?' Well, in the case of Resistance 2, the question is 'does the game designer who got drunk and forgot to assign specific damage ratios to weapons deserve a punch in the face any less than the game designer who actually thought it would be a good idea make parts of the game that are impossible to pass the first time around?'
Allow me to elaborate: There are times in Resistance 2 when, taking a leaf out of the Predator's book (by which I mean ripping a page out of the screenplay from Predator), you are pitted against an invisible enemy that will punch a hole through your face before you've even had the time to dust off your MGS4 death soliloquy flashcards. In a good game, this kind of mechanic can be used to create tension and a real sense of uncertainty; in Resistance 2, it is used to show you how much the developers hate people. Seriously, racists don't hate minorities as much as Resistance 2 hates you.
When the Predator is ready he will run at you from a random direction leaving you, literally, two seconds to kill him. And you better hope you kill him, because there aren't any second chances. Every hit from the Predator is an instant kill and the only gun that can kill him in one shot is the shotgun. Without that you're only guaranteed chance of making it through these sections alive is reading the FAQ beforehand or being Mr Miyagi.
That being said, even if you have mastered the art of Wax On/Wax Off, it's not going to help when you literally don't have two bullets to rub together. Seriously, Custer had better odds than you. For a while I thought the fact I was constantly running out of ammo was down to playing badly, but towards the end of the game I was put in a situation wherein I had to defeat a giant turtle with a rocket launcher for an arm using only my basic machine gun. This is the video game equivalent of trying to beat a tank with tips on the stock market. At this point I realised that the developers had attempted to infuse an element of strategy into their game by making you choose the right weapons for the right situation. Well, developers, let me be the first to say that this was a God damn stupid idea.
Chances are you've all played the kind of game where you save up all your best weapons or items until the very end in anticipation of an insurmountable final boss. Well, every single encounter in Resistance 2 is like this. The only problem is it's almost impossible to anticipate exactly what kind of encounter it's going to be; meaning that you'll either discover half way through the skirmish and seconds before you get killed until you are dead, or you'll struggle through the entire fight wasting all your normal ammo only to discover the gun you should have been using for this specific battle was hidden all along behind some boxes or a rock.
This leads me to another fatal chink in the armour of R2. The game tries incredibly hard to guide the player by the hand without ever actually telling you what to do and to be cinematic at the same time. With the Predator sections and bosses that destroy the scenery a real attempt at immersion is made, rather than just a linear route planned around the players destination, but whereas in Modern Warfare they were a core part of the gameplay (crawling across the ground before a nuke hits, wounded/manning a helicopter turret etc.) the cinematic aspects of R2 require you be in the right place at the right time or else be dead. There's a reason no one makes films about the extras in war films and that reason is because the extras are there to get shot, blown up and shot into things that make them blow up.
I hate to say this given how overused they are already in games today, but R2 could have been improved massively by the implementation of quick-time events. The game pulls so many insta-deaths and dick moves on you that it almost seems to want you to fail. Giving the enemy equal opportunity to use a gun that shoots through walls is fair; allowing said enemy to dig in somewhere you can't attack him without the same gun: dick move. There's a sense of the player's own shortcoming when they fail to press the right button and block a Predator's attack; when they get killed in one shot because they literally couldn't see the attack coming there's just a feeling of being cheated.
I know I said I wasn't going to dwell on the storyside of the game but there is a point to be made about the cast of M*A*S*H*:After Dark who make up the rest of your team and that is that they are all profoundly useless. In terms of firepower, they appear unable to hit the broad side of a planet and I assume that, while they were waiting for you to return from your last mission, they killed time by watch Dragonball Z enough to know how to hide their power levels because every enemy will run right past them with eyes only for you.
I'm not exaggerating this, in every single large scale battle I got into I watched all the enemies run straight past my three team-mates and head straight for me; especially in the encounters with the Crimson Heads. You might have noticed by this point that I didn't bother picking up any of the actual names for the enemies, but since almost all of them are bold-faced rip-offs of things from other games/films/H.P. Lovecraft you should pretty much get what I'm talking about. Oh, and have fun fighting the Nemesis a hundred or so times.
The point I'm trying to make, in the end, is that Resistance 2 is a shining example of 'when it works, it works'. I really think that the developers had the best intentions at heart with all the gameplay quirks they crammed in, but at the end of the day far too much of it is left up to random chance to ever really allow complete immersion for the player, especially when they're being forced to reload the same battle for the fifth time cause that one enemy they couldn't see blindsided them with perfect aim from three miles away.
This game brought vivid memories of Jak II: Renegade screaming back into my mind. Jak & Daxter was a thoroughly enjoyable Crash Bandicoot copy, which made sense since it was by the same team. It holds a place as one of the few games I've bothered to complete 100% and so I was worried when I found out the sequel was to be taken in a drastic new direction. Abandoning the coat-tails of Crash Bandicoot and instead hopping over onto the ever lucrative Goodship Grand Theft Auto, Jak II took everything that was fun about the platforming collectathon of the first game and beat it black and blue with badly designed GTA driving missions and awful gun-based combat.
The reason I am telling you this story is that I feel like I've witnessed the same thing happening here. When Jak II swapped out the jumping on enemies to kill them and replaced it with run and gun combat they left in the original health meter from the first game. This meant that, despite the fact you were being constantly barraged with bullets, you could only ever get hit five times or else face starting the entire level all over again. In the same way, Resistance 2 strikes me as a game that wanted to do so much right it ended up with a homogeneous mass of other games that gels when similar and only serves to showcase the disparity when you die for the tenth time on the same encounter because of unbalanced combat.
Still...it looks real, real nice.
Reviewer's Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
Originally Posted: 06/28/10
Game Release: Resistance 2 (EU, 11/28/08)
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