Best of all, Resistance 3 takes a few deliberate steps backwards that will warm the cockles of any Resistance fan’s heart. For a start, the restrictive two-weapon limitation of Resistance 2 has gone, bringing back a weapon wheel, and instant access to any weapon which you’ve uncovered and which you have ammo for.
This is a great idea, because Resistance’s weapons are so deeply lovable. Each has a secondary fire mode, transforming a shotgun into a grenade launcher, or allowing you to tag an enemy with a homing round which subsequent bullets will steer automatically towards. How do you improve on a magnum? By making the rounds explode when you hit the right trigger, that’s how. One weapon freezes foes with one blast, then shatters them with another, while another throws out a shield and shoots through walls. Throw in the fact that weapons develop new powers the more you use them, and you have a game that gleefully throws away stodgy realism in the cause of thrills and OTT violence.
Secondly, Resistance 3 studiously ignores the recharging health system that has become the genre standard since Call of Duty 2. It’s a smart move, because in a world where you can be on your last legs, hoping there’s a Chimera health pack around the next corner, there’s a lot more tension, and there will be times when you’ll find yourself almost cornered, desperately searching for a survival line. This should be a recipe for frustration, but in Insomniac’s steady hands it’s anything but. You’ll always find an answer hidden in your arsenal or the environment nearby, and the difficulty level is perfectly judged. The same goes for the AI which, despite the odd moment where you’ll find a Chimera sitting pretty, waiting to be triggered, is convincing without ever seeming supernaturally perceptive.
In short, Resistance 3 plays a staggering single-player game – and one you can also enjoy with a friend in online or split-screen co-op. The news on the multiplayer front is slightly less positive, though as the servers have only just opened up we’ll give it some benefit of doubt. Insomniac has taken a step back from the huge-scale action of Resistance 2, with its sixty-player skirmish mode, and while Resistance 2 could be a bit messy, it’s a slight disappointment to find Resistance 3 such a conservative, sixteen-player affair with a straightforward selection of deathmatch, team-deathmatch and objective-based team modes. The maps, which cheerfully take you all the way from Alice Springs to the Glamorgan coastline, are interesting and the action is slick. The arsenal is as effective as it’s always been. Yet there’s something slightly prosaic about the whole affair. With a few more experience levels under our belt and a little more time online, however, there’s a chance that our opinions could change.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Resistance 3 supports both Move controls and stereoscopic 3D. We haven’t had a chance to trial the latter, but the Move controls work every bit as well as they did in Killzone 3, even if it still takes a while to get accustomed. Sony appears to have this nailed.
Is Resistance 3 Sony’s long-awaited Halo killer? Maybe not, but that’s a question that no longer seems to matter. What it is, unquestionably, is a superbly wrought and polished sci-fi FPS, and one that – in campaign mode at least – can stand on its own two feet with the genre’s best.
Resistance 3 is a triumph. While you can see its many influences showing through, it’s one of the grimmest, most compelling and most spectacular FPS games on any platform, and amongst the very best on PS3.