Review by horror_spooky
"Gimme a Hale yeah!"
Resistance: Fall of Man was a launch title for the PlayStation 3, and Sony tried very hard to make it the system's "killer app". While the first game was a pretty good game, it definitely didn't reach the same heights as its competition, with Microsoft's Gears of War franchise becoming immensely more popular and pushing plenty more Xbox 360s than Resistance pushed PS3s. However, Insomniac is a talented developer, and the Resistance IP is very valuable for Sony. With the relative success of the original, a sequel was inevitable. But does Resistance 2 break the FPS boundaries Sony wants it to, or is it just another FPS?
Well, it's just another FPS, albeit one of great quality. There have been plenty of changes between Resistance: Fall of Man and this sequel, the most notable being the fact that Resistance 2 isn't trying to be every single FPS game at the same time. The first Resistance was a jack of all trades, master of none, and Insomniac took notice of this. Resistance 2 tries to have a more structured gameplay formula, and I'm sure it's going to click with some people, while others will be left wishing they had improved the basic formula introduced with the first game.
The first Resistance utilized a weapon wheel, which was a change of pace from most modern FPS games. Resistance 2 abandons the weapon wheel and instead only allows players to tote around two different weapons at a time. I am not sure how I feel about this; the weapon wheel in the first game gave me mixed feelings, but there doesn't seem to be a point of excluding it in the sequel. Each combat situation demands specific weapons be used, and the game places these weapons close to the player each time. Why not just have each weapon available at any point? I don't see the logic in this, except to try to be more like Activision's blockbuster Call of Duty franchise.
Another significant change is that Resistance 2 has ditched the health system used in the first game. The first game used a combination of regenerating health and making the players gather health packs. Resistance 2 only uses the regenerating health system. I honestly feel like this makes the game have less of an identity. Practically every shooter uses this health system, and it is getting kind of old. It works fine for Call of Duty games or Gears of War games, but does it really need to in every single shooter franchise? I personally loved how the first game combined the two approaches to a health system in a FPS. The result was a very original feel to the overall experience.
And yet another change comes with the game's campaign. The first game allowed players to play through the entire thing in co-op, split-screen style. This was a very entertaining experience. The second game completely ditches this co-op format in exchange for a single-player campaign with a larger focus on a storyline. While I appreciate the much better storyline and Nathan Hale getting more than a couple of lines and actual character development, a bit of charm is lost with the exclusion of allowing two people to journey through the game together. It's a shame, too, because there are plenty of moments in the campaign that just SCREAM co-op.
Nathan is almost always walking around with other soldiers, and there's no reason that the other player couldn't control one of them. They're pretty useless, anyway. The AI partners almost never kill anything, and are extremely stupid. One time, a computer-controlled partner literally pushed me out of the
cover I was using, and right into the line of fire from the charging Chimeran forces. It's not uncommon for them to run right in front of scopes as well. Thank god this game doesn't punish you for shooting your teammates in the skull, or otherwise it's unlikely it would even be possible to finish the game
from beginning to end.
The enemy AI, on the other hand, is brutal. While Resistance 2 is significantly less frustrating than the original game, it's still a very difficult game to play through. The enemies are brutal, and it's insanely easy to die. There is also a very noticeable lack of balance in the game. The strong enemies are equipped with the most powerful weapons, making them incredibly hard to defeat. The smaller enemies are equipped with the weaker weapons, making them almost pathetically easy to defeat. A little mixing and matching between the types of weapons available to particular enemies and the strength of those enemies would have fixed these balancing problems. The issue expands to the player as well. There are weapons that are virtually useless like the Bullseye, but there are also weapons that are extremely over-powered like the Auger.
Don't get me wrong; I love the Auger. It's my favorite gun in the game. But there's just something cheap about being able to shoot through a wall at enemies and defeat them all before they even have a chance. Likewise, it feels cheap when enemies are equipped with Augers, which makes staying behind cover a damn near impossibility. While this in itself wouldn't have been that big of a deal, the moments where Augers are used in the game just don't make sense. The enemies will be equipped with Augers at moments where there are gigantic, near-indestructible enemies called Titans ready to blow you up if you step outside of cover. You'll be equipped with Augers at moments that are supposed to be challenging, but end up just being a total walk in the park thanks to the capabilities of the weapon.
Balancing issues aside, one of Insomniac's trademarks is providing the players with ridiculous weaponry. The Ratchet & Clank franchise began this trend for the company, and the Resistance franchise has continued the legacy. Every weapon in the game has a secondary function, adding a lot of depth to the gun combat. The Auger can shoot through walls and also deploy shields. The Carbine is a regular, human-made rifle, but it also fires grenade rounds. The Rossmore shotgun can blow the heads of enemies with regular shotgun shells, but it also has a secondary function of firing off two shells at a time. To go along with this wide variety of guns are a few different grenade types. There are regular frag grenades, as well as grenades that when they explode, shoot a bunch of needles in every direction. Yes, Insomniac didn't hold back when it came to providing original and unique weapon designs for Resistance 2.
Enemies in Resistance 2 vary. There are enemies that are fun to fight, and there are enemies that feel incredibly cheap. Two new enemies debut for this game, and both of them illustrate my last couple of points perfectly, so I will focus on them. Firstly, there are zombie-like enemies that burst out of slimy cocoons that litter America in the world of Resistance 2. They often charge in large swarms, and provide a genuine scare as well as being just an incredibly cool take on the stale zombie creature. There are also invisible enemies in the game that are supposed to provide "jump" scares, but end up just being more of a nuisance than anything. These beasts are oftentimes impossible to see coming at first, resulting in sure-deaths. Their only purpose, besides trying to scare you, is to waste time. While it was a neat concept, perhaps giving them ability to off Nathan with one swipe wasn't the best idea.
The reason I mention "scares" in the previous paragraph is that Resistance 2 isn't just like any other sci-fi FPS title. The game tries hard to incorporate survival-horror elements into the formula. As a huge fan of the genre, I think this is a grand idea. There are dark, quiet corridors that will become very loud and bright with gunfire after a giant mob of zombies ambush the player. Little spider creatures feast on the dead and scurry in large numbers, like a big wave of impending doom zooming in on Hale to pick the meat off his bones. I don't want to spoil anything about a particular boss encountered at about the middle point of the game, but it is an impressive and terrifying enemy, which results in an epic encounter I'm not likely to forget any time soon.
The campaign is really all about ups and downs. There are things I love about it, things I tolerate, and things I hate. However, Resistance 2 just couldn't compete in today's gaming market without a few other modes to go along with the campaign. While the split-screen co-op for the campaign that was presented in the original game is missing, Resistance 2 tries to make up for it with a squad-based eight-player co-op mode. It's very arcade-like, and it's also very awesome.
Players choose from three classes. There's a soldier, a medic, and spec-ops. These three classes play off one another, and players that take the time to master the different situations encountered in the slew of co-op levels will find a very rewarding and challenging experience for sure. Players earn experience points by completing mission objectives and defeating enemies, which unlock new perks and what-not, as well as character customization options. Two players can play the game in split-screen and then take the fight online. It's really entertaining and exciting. The best moments from the campaign, like dealing with hundreds of zombies at one time, are plucked and placed right into the co-op campaign.
The key to being successful in co-op is to play off the strengths and weaknesses of the other classes. Soldiers need to stay in front, with their shields activated, killing everything with their Wraith machinegun. Spec-Ops players need to stay behind soldiers, shooting through their shield while constantly throwing ammo at their feet to keep the shield up-and-running. And Medics, as you could guess, have the job of making sure the team stays alive.
I love the co-op mode. I'm sad that it won't be returning in Resistance 3, but at least that won't take away from the community enjoying the co-op in this game. It's frantic, fun, and exciting as hell. I also love that two players can take the game online in split-screen. The co-op is playable offline in split-screen as well, but unfortunately, it's damn near impossible to complete any co-op missions offline due to the difficult being balanced towards eight players. It also takes an extremely long time to level up in the co-op, but that's not a horrible thing since all it does is encourage more playing!
There's also a multiplayer component to go along with Resistance 2. Just like the first game, the multiplayer consists of massive online battles for up to 60 players. The game can't be played in four-player split-screen anymore, which is a disappointment, but it can still be played in two-player split-screen, and can be taken online in split-screen. The multiplayer uses a ranking system akin to Call of Duty, with perks and experience gained to unlock new ranks and content. The multiplayer is acceptable, but it's a tad too chaotic to really make a dent in the FPS market currently consumed by Call of Duty and Battlefield, which are both much more streamlined experiences when it comes to the multiplayer.
I mentioned earlier that I appreciated the fact that Nathan Hale gets more character development in this game. I really do appreciate this, especially since in the first game, Hale rarely spoke. It was like an awkward mix between steroid-induced space marine and Link. It was odd, to say the least. In Resistance 2, Hale talks a lot, as do the people around him. While the other characters in the game get so little character development that they mean nothing, Hale becomes a lot more interesting. He's a Sentinel now, which equates to a super-soldier created through use of the Chimeran virus thanks to a certain scientist. Hale leads a squad of other Sentinels in their attempt to fight off the Chimeran invasion of the United States of America.
The change of scenery is significant for this game. The first game definitely felt like a World War II game with aliens, which I think was what Insomniac was shooting for anyway. The European setting really helped this fact. For this game, the Chimeran civilization has already conquered Europe, and has set its sights on the United States. The United States Army spends its time trying to fight off the Chimeran forces while also trying to sabotage the large air fleets that fly above the country causing all sorts of issues. Nathan spends a lot of time in high-tech compounds and inside Chimeran spaceships, or in the woods. This takes away from the cool antique setting that was represented nicely in the first game. It no longer feels like a typical World War II game with aliens. It feels like a game with aliens, kind of set during World War II. And trust me, there's a difference.
The drop in quality with the atmosphere is forgivable, however. The reason for that being is that Resistance 2 is infinitely better looking than its predecessor. The first game was actually quite ugly. Despite being made by one of the most talented video game developers in history, Resistance was just uglier than sin. There was barely anything about it that screamed "I AM A SEVENTH GENERATION GAME". On the contrary, it looked like it belonged in last-gen. There was one key moment during that game that made me go, "Wow", though. And that was when there was snow falling out of the sky. The snow felt in such a realistic and cool way that it really amazed me. I had to take a few minutes to stop and appreciate these fantastic weather effects. Other than this one instance though, the first game wasn't impressive at all visually, to say the least. There were a lot more "wow" moments in Resistance 2, rest assured.
Seeing the gigantic Chimeran spaceships floating above sprawling cityscapes is a truly amazing sight. There is a ton of detail put into everything as well. There is no city street that looks identitcal to another one. Not a one. The enemies have such an incredible level of detail to them, that I oftentimes found myself examining dead bodies just to appreciate how much work went into crafting these ugly brutes. The framerate never skips a beat as well, which is pretty damn amazing considering there is constantly a ton of action going on at any given time. Resistance 2 is a good example of a game that probably couldn't be done the as well had it been developed for the Xbox 360. This game really does show off the graphical and technical prowess of the PlayStation 3.
Voice acting is alright in this game, if not typical. A lot of the characters in the game sound too similar though, which can cause confusion for sure. The soundtrack is rather epic, which more than makes up for the voice-acting. Resistance 2 is also a reasonably loud game, which really sucks players in and makes the overall gaming experience far more immersive than if the sound design was lacking. Just like Resistance 2 looks amazing, it sounds amazing as well.
The campaign can be beaten in about five hours, which is typical for today's games. The meat and potatoes really isn't the campaign, thankfully. The co-op mode will make it easy to dump a ton of hours into the game, due to the three different classes and the push to unlock everything for each class. The multiplayer mode is a nice distraction, and allowing players to play the game in split-screen and take it online was a brilliant move on the part of Insomniac. Resistance 2 also touts trophy support and multiple difficulty modes to boot. There's a whole lot of game here.
Is it as good as the original? That's hard to say. I feel like Resistance 2 surpasses Fall of Man in many ways, but I also feel like it doesn't compare to the first game in an equal amount of ways as well. Resistance 2's campaign definitely could have used a more focused vision and polish, but the co-op mode and the multiplayer do a lot to make up for the misgivings found in the campaign. Those that enjoyed Fall of Man will most likely find a lot to like with Resistance 2, and picking this up should be a no-brainer. Those burnt out on FPS games should just rent this game for the story in preparation for the third game since there really is nothing here that's going to sway you away from Call of Duty. Resistance 2 may not be the most original FPS ever crafted, but I'll be damned if it's not one of the most well-made.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/14/11
Game Release: Resistance 2 (US, 11/04/08)
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