Review by Gruel
"So promising, but unfortunately a misstep for the franchise."
When the Playstation 3 launched with Resistance as their lead game, Sony finally managed to capture the eye of the elusive first person shooter crowd with one of the best shooters that year. In fact, the original Resistance was such a hit that Sony pushed back the release a few months of Sony's other anticipated first person shooter, Killzone 2. Resistance 2 continues Nathan Hale's quest to exterminate the alien breed known as the Chimera in an alternate version of a 1950s United States.
At the start of this sequel, Nathan Hale is paired up with comrades who also have been infected with the Chimera virus, yet they have managed to find a way to control it from taking them over completely. This squad is assigned to the toughest tasks in order to save humanity. I thought the narrative for Resistance was one of the best to have grace a first person shooter to date, and its successor continues to examine the intriguing mysteries of the Chimera. While not all questions are answered, and some key plot points were disappointingly treated as afterthoughts, Resistance 2 still manages to deliver a fairly decent, albeit disappointing single player experience. Just like its predecessor, there are a wide variety of weapons to tinker with and enemies to devour (including boss battles of ludicrous proportions) to keep Hale's journey fresh and exciting to the very end.
Now bear with me because I have some complaints about the campaign. It is still a mostly enjoyable story that picks up right after the first game, but there are a few issues that hold it back and take it down a few notches from the classic campaign of the original. My main gripe with single player campaign is that it is well, only playable for one person. This is a shame because the last game was a blast to experience with a friend in co-op play, especially when facing Resistance's tougher-than-nails difficulty. If you're like me and you're use to playing on the normal level of difficulty, make sure to adjust the setting to casual, because even at the easiest difficulty level I perished a total of 68 times in the seven and a half hours it took me to finish Resistance 2.
Another element I wish that would have carried over into Resistance 2 was the weapon wheel management system. As much as I am a fan of the new two-weapon system standard of first person shooters, it just seemed a little unnecessary here after adapting to no limits on the amount of weapons one could carry in the first game. Finally, this sequel suffers from an identity crisis, where parts of the game attempt to add a survival horror element to the mix, but the developers at Insomniac never go all out with it, while the rest of the game maintains its all out shooter dynamic. The end result is inconsistent gameplay that took me out of the core campaign experience.
While the main campaign is only playable for one person, there is a whole new set of missions exclusively designed for co-op play for up to eight players online. The narrative is kept to a minimal in these co-op missions as players instead control one of three character classes (soldier, spec ops, medic) where working together is vital for survival. Once becoming familiar with the character classes, the co-op missions wound up being all sorts of crazy fun, and in the end they were a somewhat welcomed tradeoff for the lack of co-op in the main missions.
Resistance 2 also features a great competitive multiplayer component with a stacked list of features such as clan support, buddy lists and detailed stat tracking. Battles can contain up to an astounding 60 players online in a variety of standard versus modes, the most ever for a console first person shooter for its time (Sony's online shooter MAG later surpassed the record). 60 player online play I found to be a little overwhelming, and most times I felt lost in a hailstorm of bullets coming from all directions. Kudos to Insomniac for experimenting with this ambitious multiplayer, but it just felt too much chaos was going around for me to get my bearings.
With the exception of the gorgeous works of evil that are the mammoth bosses, most of the graphics for characters, environments and animations are above average, but nothing extraordinary. On the audio side of things, if you were a fan of the voice work and soundtrack of the first Resistance, than you are in store for another fitting score.
Developer Insomniac Games did a ton in the two years since unleashing the first Resistance upon us. It is worth playing through the campaign, though be forewarned the changes to the core gameplay will definitely yield a lesser quality experience. The separate online coop missions and revamped multiplayer were ambitious, but ultimately did not work out to make a better game. Poor Insomniac swung for the fences with the sequel, but instead Resistance 2 ends up being a fraction of its all-star predecessor that some people felt justified the PS3's launch $600 price tag.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 09/30/11
Game Release: Resistance 2 (US, 11/04/08)
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