[22 February 2009]
The sequel to the best PlayStation 3 launch game arrived in time for the console’s 2 year anniversary and in the midst of a worldwide financial crisis. Is it a title that is going to make Americans obtain another loan deferral to purchase the market-lagging PS3? It was an ambitious project, to not only improve on the original, but to show how far the gaming experience for the PlayStation 3 has evolved over the past two years. So how did it do?
Well, Resistance 2 is great even if the title is uninspired.
Though it can be assumed that there were no appropriate statements to make after declaring the Fall of Man, the simple “2” works well in a thematic sense. It is better than, say, Resistance: Man is Fallen, Deal With It (which is what the overall plot is becoming). Instead replace “2” with “too”, as in “also”, or “too much of a good thing”. It is a good sign that the crew at Insomniac has decided to ratchet everything up a few notches rather than totally rebuild the world. Why wouldn’t they, when the first one was such a successful gaming experience?
Resistance: Fall of Man is a first-person shooter set against the backdrop of an alternate WWII. Monstrosities called the Chimera pop out of the ground. Resistance 2 is also an FPS set during the backdrop of an alternate WWII (because it is a sequel), except now the aliens are also blocking out the sky (as the commercials kept telling us). Resistance: Fall of Man had some Eraser-inspired weaponry, such as the Auger, which can locate enemies behind walls and gains power as it passes through said walls, and the HedgeHog grenade that explodes into a radius of razor sharp metal quills. Thankfully, Resistance 2 also has these weapons plus a new Mini Gun that is like a Gatling gun mounted with an auger-like shield that can keep the leapers at bay. Also, Nathan Hale is back as the typical Last Badass on Earth.
Hale has submitted himself to Project Abraham, which is a united global (of what’s left of Earth) effort to find a cure to the Chimeran virus. As we know from the first game, he was infected by the virus. This gave him extrahuman strength and healing powers, while taking away his humanity by bringing him closer to becoming a Chimera by the hour. To save the human race, he has to become more and more Chimeran and he knows it. But he’s a badass. Nathan Hale is Bruce Willis from Die Hard 4 with a death wish. Further development of this theme could have aided in creating an even more desperate atmosphere, but while some time is spent developing this theme, there is apparently no time to be wasted in lingering when Chimeran ass can be kicked.
Not making this any easier on Sergeant Hale is one of his equally badass squad mates who for some reason just really wants to cap his ass in every other cut scene.
The weapons are innovative as usual from Insomniac, but there are not many ways to use them creatively for purposes not originally thought of by the developers. However, this may be the result of the linear nature of the single-player mode. Sadly, the sexy British voice narrating the story is gone. However, that part of the original was confusing, what with her narrating in the past tense as if we humans had already defeated the Chimera, thus making a sequel impossible. The only truly incomprehensible omission is that of the co-op tour. That was one of the best features of the first game and is missing in favor of a tactically interesting, but way less fun co-op mode in Resistance 2.
It is fitting that this game was released right after the American Presidential election and during our economic crisis. Not to get political, but sometimes our entertainment options mirror our real life current events. We have this economic crisis that seemingly came out of nowhere, but was always lurking underneath just like the Chimera. It seems like we in real life are trapped financially, and in the world of Resistance, the Chimera are collapsing upon humanity and choking it out.
In both worlds’ WWII, America has come across the ocean as a way to make sure war never reaches these shores. The enemy is different, but the goal the same. As we are at war in two countries, it seems that first-person shooter games with war-related themes are more popular than ever. Gaming in general is more popular than ever, but the Call of Duty series, the Tom Clancy series, Resistance, Gears of War, and even Halo stand apart as war-related games that are becoming some of the most popular of all time. We can enjoy tearing apart Grims with shooting saws from the comfort of our living rooms as long as we can separate it from the part of our brains that deal with real events. We need some kind of outlet and not all of us are able to be real life bad asses. Games like Resistance 2, with its alternate timeline and obviously goofy situations make it easier to use as an outlet. Plus, there is always the aspect of community, even if it is online.
The online play is fun, when you can get into a game. I could only connect once in about 50 tries, which is a common complaint with the PlayStation Network. It is nice to have a free service, but it would be worth it to pay for one that works better. Enough people are connected to keep it going, but I would like to try a 60 player deathmatch one of these days, as in actually being able to connect.
One last note: the cinematics during the boss fights are incredible. One in particular was not a difficult boss to defeat, but it felt like Cloverfield and was fun anyway. Overall, Resistance 2 is better than the first as the character of Nathan Hale gets fleshed out a little more (kind of a pun) and some other possibly interesting characters are introduced. It reminds me of Half-Life 2, in that it improved everything about the first, even without the surprise of being thrust into a completely unknown situation. Also, because of the uninspired title.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/70815-resistance-2/