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TVG picks up a LAARK and delivers a hefty knockout blow to the Chimera plans...
- Huge array of content.
- A tough challenge.
- Highly creative weapons.
- Can become a little too frustrating.
- Questions from Fall of Man unanswered.
- Occasional aimless wandering.
Insomniac Games returns with a sequel to one of the few PS3 launch titles really worth considering. Picking up directly after Fall of Man's cliff-hanger ending, Resistance 2 follows Sgt Nathan Hale's attempts to save the world from the growing threat of the Chimera.
Having cringed at the anachronisms of Insomniac's take on a 1950's United Kingdom, Resistance 2 switches the action to familiar territory for the studio. The Chimera onslaught has now passed over the Atlantic Ocean and finds the United States defending its territory on several fronts. Taking the fairly conventional Humans vs. Aliens plotline of the original, Resistance 2 expands upon the storyline with plenty of twists and turns into something that now resembles the grandiose excess of Halo. Whilst the cut-scenes and plot leave plenty of questions, the ability to collect various Intel packages on each stage develops the concept of collectables and helps to fill in many details that are otherwise left unanswered - although fans of the original may find one or two questions still remaining, particularly by the grand finale!
Split into seven different chapters (and a prologue), the campaign mode is adequate when it comes to the hour count; however, Insomniac has packed each chapter full of highly creative sequences that mix up what we've come to expect from shooters. Although it feels largely very similar to the original, at the same time both the storyline and gameplay feel considerably different to what came before. Like Fall of Man before it Resistance 2 is an insanely fast-paced first-person-shooter, yet at the same time this isn't a run-and-gun shooter, as such foolish bravado will quickly leave you as a bloodied heap on the floor. Insomniac evidently enjoys taxing the gamer with plenty of ambushes, assaults, and frantic gun fights, but it's the slightly more creative set-pieces that provide the stand out moments in Resistance 2. On a couple of occasions you'll have to navigate your way through a stage, avoiding larger opponents with the assistance of audible directions from your colleague. Another section challenges you to escape against a timer - lending a sense of urgency that we'd like to see return in more videogames. But perhaps the most enjoyable sections are the boss fights. Despite largely all revolving around the same technique (shoot them with big rockets), the encounters are significantly epic enough and highly memorable in a genre not traditionally renowned for such sections. The fight against the Leviathan in particular is up there with the very best shooter moments we've had this year.
Much of the campaign finds Hale fighting alongside other members of the SRPA, a black-ops team comprising other infected members. Both support and opponent AI is generally superb throughout the entire game. The various ranks of the Chimera will use an assortment of techniques to ensure Nathan Hale doesn't succeed in his mission. From the standard flanking and covering moves, it seems the Chimera have learnt a few new tricks, often switching positions with one another and using charged attacks to unsettle you from comfortable positions. When Hale does separate from the SRPA team the game retains the horror feeling that was prevalent throughout the original. The relative scarcity of ammo almost lends the game a survival/horror feel at times.
Such striking AI combines with a subtle yet effective auto-aiming system to overcome the shortcomings of the SixAxis/DualShock feeble thumbsticks to ensure that the overall gunplay is of a very high and entertaining standard, but it's really the creativity of the stages and the weapons that puts Resistance 2 on the map. Insomniac has wisely focussed on the shooter elements and removed gimmicky elements of the original, meaning no more driveable vehicles (just because Halo had them) and cheap SixAxis options such as throwing Chimera that grab hold of you.
With a heritage that includes Ratchet & Clank it's no surprise that the creativity displayed in the assortment of weapons is top drawer once again. Although it's largely an evolution of those featured in the original, a handful of new additions replace some older ones and others have had slight enhancements. It's the fact that secondary functions perfectly compliment the primary fire that makes virtually every weapon so enjoyable and useful, such as the sniper scope on the Fareye in conjunction with a slow-down secondary or the manoeuvrable shield that comes with the all-new Wraith gattling gun. Ultimately, the guns are the star of the show, and it's fair to say Resistance 2 has one of the most creative arsenals since Unreal Tournament stepped onto the battlefield.
Despite its qualities Resistance 2 is however a game that is likely to frustrate on many occasions. The sheer cunningness of the AI coupled with the effectiveness of the weapons means that despite the fast pace, you've got to keep your head down and in cover. Even on the Normal difficulty setting Resistance 2 is the type of game in which you'll have to repeat certain sections several times over. Compounding the frustration, there are several opponents that mean instant death, whether it's becoming fish food for the Chimera Furies whenever you fall into water or succumbing to the Chameleons that charge at you invisibly and are capable of killing you in one hit. Chuck in some fairly obscure navigation through the levels and one or two devilish sections that again bring instant death and you have a game that can occasionally become particularly trial-and-error. But, despite this I still found Resistance 2 thoroughly addictive. For me, despite often screaming at the screen in sheer frustration, I found the challenge rewarding and compelled to carry on. When you arrive to such scenarios it's often a case of: first time, death; second time, "ok I understand what to do"; third time, "argghhhh"; but often by the fourth time you'll have sussed out the solution and moved on. It walks a fine line when it comes to difficulty and addiction, but largely manages to stick on the 'one more go' side of frustration as opposed to lobbing it out of the window.
But the single-player is only a small part of what Resistance 2 has to offer. Boasting support for up to 60 players in the various competitive online modes and eight-player co-operative play, Resistance 2 is truly the PS3's answer to Halo. An experience points system works in conjunction with a perks setup similar to Call of Duty 4. Players are rewarded with XP in all modes including the single-player campaign, which in turn allows you to buy extra armour and weapons to add a satisfying sense of progression to the game. The co-op mode comprises ten different stages and is in itself an entirely different mode to the single-player campaign. There is just so much to Resistance 2's online modes, it's sure to keep PS3 gamers blasting online for months to come.