Michael Kontoudis
26 Jan, 2009

Resistance 2 Review

PS3 Review | Irresistible?
In today's gaming milieu, the First Person Shooter has emerged as something of a banner genre; it would seem that every platform is judged in the eyes of the hardcore by the quality of its signature shooter. Indeed, such was the case with Insomniac Games' PlayStation 3 title Resistance: Fall of Man. By virtue of its position as a FPS launch title, early adopters gathered at its heels and elevated a solid but unremarkable game with a fun multiplayer into a veritable 'killer app'. Resistance met with considerable success and so now, two years later, gamers have been graced with a sequel bearing the simple moniker of Resistance 2. Insomniac promised bigger battles, better visuals, and an overall boost in terms of the title's multiplayer options and indeed, Resistance 2 is beefier and brasher than its predecessor in every way. However, the question remains: is resistance still futile the second time round?

Resistance 2 picks up almost immediately from its predecessor's denouement, finding a battered Nathan Hale trekking across a snowy field before being abducted by a group of black-clad special ops. Hale, the lone survivor of an American force deployed to repel an invasion of Britain by the loathsome Chimera, finds himself recruited into a squad named the Sentinels, a specialised unit of soldiers affected by the Chimeran virus and armed with regenerating health and other attributes as a result. Hale and the Sentinels are whisked around from a base in Iceland to various hot spots across the heart of the United States in an attempt to ward off a full-scale invasion of the Land of the Free.

If anyone so much as utters the word 'generic'...

If anyone so much as utters the word 'generic'...

To be generous, the plot of Resistance 2 is underwhelming; barring a few incredible vistas (the invasion of San Francisco is an utterly haunting image) and a brutal finale, Insomniac has done very little to engender any sense of intrigue in the player. The characters, in particular Hale himself, are a series of ciphers and stereotypes with little to say outside their banal military chattering and the Chimera remain an oblique foe. The player is whisked around on various missions with very little rhyme, reason, or context, which makes it difficult to care about the story's outcome.

It is fortunate then that the game's core 'shooting gallery' gameplay is so well-crafted, refined and downright fun. Those familiar with the first title in the series will know roughly what to expect, but there have indeed been a number of changes to the experience this time round. Importantly, checkpoints are now handled better than before, with the game saving the player's progress before every major encounter. Also Hale's regenerating health, which in the first game was segmented into quarters, is now in line with the popular and trendy regenerating health system found in the Call of Duty or Halo series. This is perhaps a controversial change, but it no doubt keeps the action flowing thick and fast without requiring the player to scavenge for health packs. Further, the control layout has been tweaked so as to be even more intuitive than before and the 'weapon wheel' from the first title has been replaced by a two weapon system also made popular by the two aforementioned series. These changes are largely superficial but do much to bring the game into line with modern standards. Some might bemoan the fact that they can no longer carry every weapon into every encounter, but the title is fairly generous in that weapons are scattered all over the United States as if they had fallen out an enormous alien pinata.

This is my rifle, this is my gun!

This is my rifle, this is my gun!

Perhaps more significant is the way in which Insomniac Games has upped the scope and pacing of the title compared to the fairly monotonous slog which was the first Resistance. Large scale skirmishes featuring dozens of soldiers and Chimera are intermittently spaced between atmospheric trudges in the dark, listening to the creaks in the wall and waiting for a crazed Zombie-like Chimera to burst out of its cocoon. Combat is now more focussed on buckling down behind solid pieces of cover and surviving against what seems like insurmountable odds. In essence, what one finds with Resistance 2 is a flair for pace and variety; the set pieces are more interestingand cinematic than those of the first title. Screen-filling bosses are now the norm, capping off most levels in the typical fashion. While most of these drooling behemoths are offed in uninspiring fashion with a couple of rockets-to-the-head, they generally provide some much-needed variety into proceedings. The Chicago mission in particular is tremendous, with vicious street fighting interspersed with creeping through dilapidated tenements and engaging in massive skirmishes. The level climaxes with a confrontation between Hale and a skyscraper-sized leviathan which is about the most memorable moment of the game.

"Do you feel lucky, punk? Do ya? RAWR."

"Do you feel lucky, punk? Do ya? RAWR."

However, Resistance 2 is not much of a showcase for the PS3 like its predecessor was some two years ago. While Insomniac Games has upped the scale of their level design and combat scenarios, they have been unable to provide gamers with the technical bells and whistles which have come to be expected of modern hardware. The character models, from the zombie-esque 'Grims' to the ubiquitous Chimera 'Hybrids', look fairly solid and react satisfyingly to every bullet, blade or grenade hurled at them, but the assortment of American landscapes are all rather pedestrian. Incidental details such as blades of grass and rippling water stun occasionally, but for every beautifully-designed and modelled level is another graced with bland textures and a myriad of sparse, dark tunnels which induce nothing but tedium. While the game's colour palette is impressively varied compared to the original title, and the scope of some the monsters and battles is impressive, the overall impression conveyed by Resistance 2 is that it feels slightly behind the curve. In this way, the spectre of titles like Killzone 2 haunt the game's every step.

On the aural side of the game's presentation, things fair slightly better. The weapon sound effects are serviceable as is the musical score, which hits every militaristic, heroic beat one would expect without being especially memorable. Voice acting is generally of a good standard, which is fortunate given that many of the non-player characters will consistently fill players' ears with unintelligible chatter. Ultimately however, the title's graphical and musical insipidness never really detracts from its deeply engaging core gameplay.

Clearly on vacation from Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction. Good for him.

Clearly on vacation from Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction. Good for him.

Presently, Resistance 2 sits at the forefront of online multiplayer gaming for the PS3, and for this reason, it's a title that will keep on giving months down the line. Players can launch into standard modes such as Death Match, Team Death Match, and Core Control (Capture the Flag), but can also partake in a mode named Skirmish, which allows up to 60 players to be assigned into small squads with fluid objectives. All of the competitive modes play well and the servers are admirable in that lag is almost non-existent for those with a decent connection.

For those who prefer to play nice, Resistance 2 also offers up a unique co-operative mode which, rather than merely allowing a second player to hop into the single player campaign, allows up to eight players to traverse a storyline which complements and runs parallel to Nathan Hale's journey. The mode offers classes, ranging from hardy Soldiers to Medics, and like all other modes in the game, utilises an experience system not unlike that of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Every kill and every action garners experience which allows players to improve their skill ranking and earn other rewards. The co-operative mode is unique among shooters, and for a group of players who make the effort to work together, the results can be riotous and rewarding. It may not satiate those looking to play through the campaign with a friend in the traditional manner, but it is no doubt an impressive and significant part of the package that is Resistance 2.

Resistance 2 may not be the PS3 flagship title it aspires to be, but is nonetheless a welcome feather in the console's cap. It ticks all the right boxes, with tight controls, satisfying gun play, and an amazingly robust set of multiplayer options. The only caveat is that for all its competence in every facet of its production, it fails to wow at a narrative level or provide that je ne sais quoi which would elevate it to something truly special. Insomniac Games have yet again produced a top quality title, but it's ever so slightly soulless for all its craft. Nevertheless, those who can look past the incoherent story and uneven presentation will find themselves embroiled in a superior sequel and one of the best shooters of 2008.
The Score
Resistance 2 is a rock-solid sequel and does everything required of a shooter in an extremely capable fashion. It may not be the most technically adept or memorable piece of software, but it remains consistently enjoyable for the months of gameplay it provides.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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5 years ago
The best part of this game was the suburban levels with the grimms, by far. Sony did the right thing releasing this game first, if it had of come out after Killzone 2 it would have been DOA in the sales charts.
5 years ago
I personally preferred the first Resistance more, only because it had more of a 50's grey-feel about it, where as Resistance 2 was more colourful (if that makes sense?). Still a great game though; 9/10
5 years ago
I was never a fan. And bought R2 on release as it looked good. Not long after i traded it on the forums.
This was the most boring and worest shooter i had played for 2008
5 years ago
I was a big fan of R1.
However due to the big backlog of games, I decided not to buy R2 at launch - I should have stayed that way.
I got R2 after the launch weekend, finished it and was left utterly dissapointed and traded it!!!
This game just felt like Insomniac wanted to please the entire gamut of Shooting Fans by incorporating the "Zombie" like Chimera - which at the end, felt like a messy idea.
The graphics were a let down - c'mon, this was SOny's flagship shooter for the holidays and they come up with this ...
This game deserves a 5 or a 6 just because it is from Insomniac and they can do sooooooooo much better -
if this was a standalone game from an unknown developer - then a rating of 8 + would have been justified...
5 years ago
Yeah it was a stange mix of some cool set pieces and some cheap sequences of throwing 100s of enemies at you too may times. Lots of cheap deaths as well. But there was a lot to like as well.

A 5 or 6 is very harsh Shiraj. I'd give it an 8, but an 8 and a half is fair enough as well.
5 years ago
I didnt mind it but it didnt seem to have the same impact on me as the first one did. I too thought the visuals were a bit off everynow and then. Standout level though was Chicago it looked very sweet in HD but then having said that the forest levels seemed to be a bit bland........
5 years ago

I just glanced at the little icon for this article on the main page and mistook the 4 eyes of the Chimera for being 2 eyes with the bit between each set of 2 being the pupil and with the lower part of the jaw not being well defined I mistook it for a photoshop of ET with yellow eyes and fangs.

Chimera menacing factor just dropped 99% :P

ROFL just did it on the red one by squinting a bit and he looks totally spaced out!
5 years ago
my main annoyance with this game, is you die way to quicky, i just found that sometimes you weren't even given a shot to try and get out of a sticky situation. And it was just annoying at points.
5 years ago
Shadow Wave - this is true, sometimes you can turn a corner and two shots and die. It does seem a cheap way to extend the life of the game.

However, I have to say the game is very generous with its checkpoints so this goes some way to reducing this issue.
5 years ago
I just can't make myself care about this game enough to warrant a purchase. I did try and play the first, and it was one of the most generic and boring shooters I've ever played, I was unable to finish it.

I think I'll just hold out for Killzone 2, which really does look to be shaping up as something special.[/quote]
5 years ago
I enjoyed the first game, but there were really annoying bits that held it back from being 'great' in my mind. The levels that were slow-paced, creeping through buildings or tunnels were great, but then the big battles usually ended in death 10 times over until you figure the exact way you need to survive it. That's just annoying for me, I hate the flow of the game broken by the 'game over' screen...

I'll give this game a look-in eventually, but I'm still catching up on the landslide of games from last year. I think I'm up to about half way through the year... icon_lol_old.gif
5 years ago
I think you guys missed the most fun part: the coop. Having 8 people playing with you and working together to achieve objective is awesome.

The single player of Resistance 2 is decent. I truly hate all of the one hit kill monsters but luckily they don't do that in coop.

You have not really played Resistance 2 until you have played its coop mode.
5 years ago
Played Resistance 1, finished it. Love it. I thought it was the perfect launch title and introduction into the PS3. Since then i have been spoiled with many great games, namely the FPS masterpiece that is COD4. This game is alet down through and through. Took it back within 7 days to EB. COuldn't even committ to passing the first level. Not fun at all.
5 years ago
I agree with this review. The game, although good, was just plain old average. It did very little to make itself stand out from the pack, and with many of the releases, both alongside it and future, I get the feeling it will be easily forgotten.

The multiplayer was fun, but I played a few days of it and stopped. After all, I had COD4 sitting there, tormenting and mocking me.
5 years ago
This is the only game I bothered getting platinum for.I enjoyed this game quite a lot.

8 1/2 is a a perfect score imo.
5 years ago
Another great review from PALGN. Much better than the overhyped reviews from other sites. A solid shooter for PS3 fans for sure, but yes, very generic.

Doesnt quite reach COD multiplayer highs or say Halo/Gears single player highs. The co-op is awesome, but its been Left for Dead by, L4D.
5 years ago
My favourite part of Resistance 1 was the split screen co-op. Finally my house-mate and I didn't have to flip a coin to see who got to use the PS3. Based on that, I bought this looking forward to the two of us (and maybe some online friends) slogging through the co-op stages. While the experience may be unique and mad fun with 7 distant friends the SPLIT screen is a disappointing PILLAR-BOXED affair with no option but to play in HORIZONTAL split. If this aspect was a draw-card for you BEWARE.
5 years ago
i think if you've played any remotely decent shooter in the last year or so, you can probably pass up on resistance2.

i can't even think of one thing that R2 does that's even original. Aliens? WW2? Giant monsters? Cliffhanger ending?
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