The Resistance series has come a long way since its first outing as a release title for the PS3. From the original story of Hale fighting off a seemingly alien invasion, Insomniac have crafted a world full of stories, all tied to a grander narrative. Additionally, Insomniac has experimented with different elements for each iteration, so whilst it's not the most consistent series, it's certainly one of the more refreshing ones, and this third title is easily the best yet.
Set four year after the climax to Resistance 2, Resistance 3 sees Joe Capelli settled down with a wife and child, hiding from the Chimera far from the battlefields in an abandoned town. Having given up 'the fight', Joe is content to live out his days in hiding with his family before being thrust into a desperate journey by old acquaintance, Dr. Malikov, to get to New York and shut down a worm hole tower, delivering a mighty blow to the Chimera. It's a simple narrative that falls on more than few clichs but it feel very different to previous titles in the series. The journey from Oklahoma to New York is one of discovery as Joe witnessed what's left of humanity, in terms of numbers and spirit. By this point the Chimera have secured the United States as their own, and 90 percent of the world's human population is thought to have been killed or converted.
This is where Resistance 3 differs significantly from previous titles. The Chimera are now killing humans rather than capturing them to be converted. Whilst the actual reason for this is omitted, mention of a cure to the virus hints at one possible reason. What this mean for you is that the encounters are more militaristic. You encounter Chimera forces as they secure areas and attack any human resistance rather than whilst saving population centres. It's a more desperate fight for the very survival of what's left of the human race. You encounter pockets of resistance and witness their struggle and their will to overcome the odds as well as a darker side to humanity as the struggle overwhelms them and they give in to selfish needs. It's harrowing stuff that really brings home the atmosphere and immersion Resistance 3 excels at.
In fact Resistance 3 pulls off immersion through atmosphere wonderfully, switching between adrenalin fuelled action, anger fuelled survival, and heart pounding horror smoothly and frequently. The horror sections are particularly effective, as you traverse dark narrow passages and abandoned buildings - well, abandoned of human life. The Chimera Grims crawl out of their cocoons and lurk in the dark corners, screaming and clawing at you before charging at you, often huge numbers. They act like fast paced zombies, with their singular minded effort to tear you apart and being able to survive and continue coming after you with missing limbs, shot off in your frenzy to escape. They're a genuinely scary enemy; let loose at the right times to really drive home the horror atmosphere.
It's not just the atmosphere that shifts expertly to keep the experience fresh, the pacing overall is excellent. Your journey introduces you to new sets of characters, weapons, enemies types and locations as you progress and it never backtracks. Just as you've figured out how to best combat an enemy a new or different one arrives on the scene, and just as you are getting bored of an area you move to somewhere completely different. It's all supported by great variety. Each weapon and enemy has its time in the spotlight with neither suffering from superfluous additions and the locations run the gamut from a dusty town to a snow covered city. It's very difficult to get bored and all too easy to lose yourself for hours.
Whilst boredom is avoided masterfully, frustration is quite common. Resistance 3 is a hard game, especially in the later levels, and running through in singleplayer on normal can feel far too challenging, and therefore off putting. Cooperative play, local and online, alleviates this issue nicely and for those lone wolves out there, the casual difficulty level feels like a better fit.
Additional frustrations come from the waypoint HUD icon, which only appears on screen at the very beginning of a new waypoint and after you get lost for a little while - and you will get lost, a lot. Why it couldn't remain on screen persistently or could be summoned at will, is baffling. It leads to far too many instances where you're trying to jump over impassable objects, retreading old ground, or trying to interact with irrelevant objects waiting for the icon to reappear. It starts off as a minor annoyance that soon grows as it occurs more and more, breaking the flow of an otherwise stellar experience.
Otherwise, Resistance 3 is the FPS gem the PS3 needs as an exclusive title. The Move support works well enough, although your arms really start to ache after a while, and the 3D looks great. What's less impressive is the aesthetic. Whilst the technical graphics seems top class, especially the weather effects, the cartoon-esque art style doesn't do the best job of showing the engine off. The occasional texture lacks detail and human characters look artificial. It's easy to forgive for the most part though, and the style will suit the tastes of some. Meanwhile the sound design is utterly brilliant, with weapons sounding powerful and deadly.
Whilst Resistance 3 incorporates many elements of other shooters: The intensity of Call of Duty, the monstrous enemies of Gears of War and so on, it also benefits greatly from begin refreshing from its predecessors. This mixture gives an overall sense of uniqueness. Moreover, almost everything it does is done to the highest of quality. This is a title well worth owning a PS3 for.