Resistance 3 feels like Insomniac had something to prove. Maybe because Resistance 2 was such an awful sequel to the very good Resistance: Fall of Man that they had to redeem themselves. And redeem they did, mostly. Maybe they can put this franchise behind them now.
Resistance 3 takes place in the 50s where WWII didn’t happen, and aliens known as the Chimera invaded Earth to take it over. I don’t much remember what happened in the second game, other than being hopelessly depressed over the experience. But Resistance 3 takes off nicely and runs with a genuinely good character who goes by Joe Capeli, who goes off to New York to try and shut down a tower that threatens to destroy Earth.
What’s kind of striking to me is the way the game “borrows” classic moments from other games and makes it it’s own. Example: one stop across the USA lands Joe in a nighttime abandoned coal mining town, with aliens coming down upon him. It’s up to a gun-wielding reverend to try and help him through the land and kill bad guys good. Sound remotely familiar?
While it succeeds in bringing up fond memories of Ravenholm in Half-Life 2 (and in fact, I think Resistance 3 pulls off the setting better), it simultaneously fails to create it’s own experience. While in the game I enjoyed playing through that town, in the end I’m still probably going to remember Ravenholm before I remember Resistance 3.
That’s not to say this game doesn’t have it’s own moments. The complete shift in tone towards the end of the game, when you’re dealing with an entirely new threat besides the Chimera, was very surprising and creates a sense of dread that I hadn’t experienced with the game up to that point. There were moments where I felt like I was actually playing Half-Life 3 thanks to the similar look and design, but again, I wanted new experiences, not the evoking of older ones (albeit unintended I’m sure). And the ending, well, it’s not at all where the tone of this game was heading, and seems like a complete cop-out. I think it’s more of what Insomniac thought fans might have wanted, but I certainly didn’t want this. I wanted the earlier story frame of 90% of humanity being destroyed to go through the bitter end.
I don’t really play much online multiplayer so I can’t really comment on that side. What I can say is that this is the proper sequel I’ve been waiting for, the one that Resistance so deserved. But like Dead Rising 2, I feel it’s just a few years too late to make the impact it really could have had, and that’s a real shame.