First-person shooters are an oversaturated market these days, and with the flood of nearly identical titles being released every month, it is unsurprising that the quality of these games is on a downward trend. Resistance 2, developed by the esteemed Insomniac of Rachet & Clank fame, exemplifies that sad decline.
Resistance 2 is a run-n-gun first-person shooter about an alternate history wherein invading aliens called the “Chimera” interrupt World War II and begin an unstoppable conquest of Earth. The player takes control of Nathan Hale, an impossibly generic marine infected with the “Chimera Virus”, and must fight his way through frustrating levels of irritating enemies. Its a thoroughly uninspired and uninteresting story that has little emotional weight and serves only to break up the action.
In essence, Resistance 2 plays very similarly to nearly any sci-fi shooter to be released in the last five years. Progress down a linear path filled with set-piece battles to the level’s end. What makes Resistance 2 unique is how frustrating its levels and enemies are, making what should be exhilarating combat a frustrating process of trial-and-error.
The chief element contributing to the frustration is irritating enemy design. Small, hard-to-hit drones float in the air, firing weak bolts at you. These enemies are not difficult to dispatch, but disrupt the pacing of the combat by forcing the player to circle-strafe in crowded environments. More irritating are zombie-like enemies that swarm around the player clawing at him. These enemies do little damage, but the sheer volume through which they attack the player makes them especially irritating, causing the player to repeatedly mash his melee attack to survive this encounter. Perhaps most irritating of all, an invincible shark-like enemy that instantly kills the player as soon has he ventures close to it. This makes swimming a trial-and-error experience requiring the memorization of its movement patterns to make a mad dash across water for land. Its not fun at all, and understanding the levels becomes a matter of memorizing enemy spawns.
Disappointing, for the most part, are giant, cannon-wielding aliens intended to represent a “boss-fight” of sorts. These enemies are not challenging and represent the irritating challenge of circle-strafing around cluttered environments. Their great girth makes fighting them a matter of placing the crosshairs over their bodies and holding down the trigger until they explode. Its not challenging, and not very fun.
What is challenging and annoying is navigating the environments. Myriad enemies fire at you from many directions, making decent cover hard to acquire. Most frustrating still, are holes in the environment which, given the vertical nature of combat, usually go unseen by the player until he has already fallen to his death in one. Its a thoroughly annoying and unfun experience.
Boss battles are graphical showcases and are jaw-dropping in their scale. Too bad they are frustrating practices in dodging attacks and memorizing patterns, putting none of the skills that players have learned to use and preferring instead to instill new mechanics for each boss. This leads to scattered gameplay and incredibly irritating encounters. Particularly despicable is a giant insect battle on top of a circular tower. The battle requires the player to consistently fire at the boss’s mouth as it crawls about the tower unleashing annoying spawn that must be killed with melee attacks. The scarcity of ammunition during this fight makes the battle frustrating to the extreme.
When it was released in 2009, Resistance 2 was redeemed by its massive 60-player competitive battles and its deep 8-player co-op mode. However, it is 2011 now and the community has dwindled to about five or six active, unranked matches. As a result, the once great multiplayer is essentially dead, and without anyone to play with, the multiplayer cannot be enjoyed at its fullest potential.
Guns and Ammunition
That said, Resistance 2 is redeemed from the realm of crap by its creative and gleeful weaponry, a testament to Insomniac’s experience with the vastly superior Rachet and Clank series of action-platformers. A standout is the “Magnum”, a .44 revolver modified to have remotely detonated rounds. It is truly great to fire a bullet into an enemy and press alt-fire to detonate the round within his body. Also great is the Marksman, a powerful assault rifle with a sniper-like scope which alternately fire a floating drone that shocks anything in its vicinity. A sniper-rifle that can slow down time, as well as an alien assault rifle that can “tag” enemies for shots to home onto, are also standouts. Despite the fact that, for most of the campaign, players will only consistently rely on two or three weapons, there is little to fault about the game’s varied arsenal.
Graphics and Audio
Graphically, Resistance 2 looks great. A massive draw-distance makes for spectacular environments fraught with stunning set-piece battles. Bosses, despite the annoying gameplay that they arouse, are vast in their size and push the Playstation 3 to its limits without a single frame-rate drop. A strong variety of colorful environments, from a Californian Redwood Forest, to a twilight-shaded San Francisco Bay to the red, rocky canyons of New Mexico, shows off the skill of Insomniac’s art team.
From an auditory perspective, Resistance 2 works well. Strong voice acting combines with thoroughly unlikable characters to create a strong sense of mediocrity. Weapons generally sound powerful and are fun to use. Ambient music is utilized effectively to heighten what should have been tension, but ended up as frustration.
Unless you’re truly bored and are looking for a game to play in-between shooters, avoid Resistance 2. Inspired weaponry and great graphics do little to redeem the game from uninteresting level-design, awkward difficulty spikes, annoying enemies and now non-existent multiplayer. Resist this game. 2/5