Resistance: Fall Of Man
19th Dec 2006 | 16:36
There's a fair amount of hype surrounding this game. Resistance: Fall Of Man has, like Killzone years ago, been touted as PlayStation's answer to Halo. So this foray into alien inhabited lands, brought to you by the men behind Ratchet And Clank, has a lot to live up to. And after our first hands-on with the preview build, we weren't convinced. "It's like a poor man's Half-Life 2," we grumbled. "Why is it so hard?" we barked as another merciless alien attack ended another life (more on that later). "The Chimera all look the bloody same," noted mardy Dave, failing to remember that all the Nazis in Call Of Duty 3 wear uniforms. But when the finished article dropped on our desks, Resistance had changed. The difficulty's been toned down and the action factor's been ramped up. And it's a lot better than we'd ever expected for a launch game.
Playing as US Sergeant Nathan Hale, you travel to an apocalyptic Blighty (circa 1940) to help the Brits destroy the vicious Chimera, an alien race who aim to spread their zombie-like disease across the world. Unfortunately for you, the enemies have the weapons and sheer aggression to make light work of Hale and his buddies, which they do as you battle through the game's opening stage, the streets of York. It's not until the end of this level that the story unfolds. One minute you're backslapping your buddies as you make it to the rendezvous point and the next there's a swarm of alien cockroaches scurrying over your body and down your throat. Grim.
HEAL OR NO HEAL
But, while your chums lie there deader than doorknobs, you somehow get to your feet and push on to the next fight. Basically, Hale's now infected and starts to display traits akin to the Chimera - like regenerating health after a few seconds relaxation, which certainly comes in handy when pinned down by gunfire. The first hour or so is a hard slog, mind you, but this ability proves just as important as the guns in your hands. And it's not long before you get hold of the Chimera's devastating weapons and can ram their laser treats back down their throats. It's here that Resistance really comes into its own, as the range of guns and grenades on offer puts any realism-based FPS's arsenal firmly in the shade.
A RIFLING MATTER
Examples? Well, accompanying the standard assault rifle with rocket launcher attachment and the double-barreled shotgun, there's also the bullseye. This piece of kit is standard issue for the Chimera grunts but it's only really devastating when it's in your hands. It fires rapid bolts of plasma like an uzi - which means it's inaccurate from range, but devastating up close. But its big trick is that you can hit o to tag your foe so that your shots home in on them - excellent for those blind attacks from cover. Also worth a mention are the hedgehog and air-fuel grenades. When a hedgehog grenade explodes, it fires loads of deadly quills into everyone within range, while the air-fuel lets off a plume of gas then ignites the fumes to light up the enemy like giant, screaming sparklers. The kettle-like whistle as the grenade primes itself and the whoosh of charring flames is massively satisfying in itself and lobbing these packages of pain will take out a gang of charging Chimera with little fuss. There's a genius addition to the sniper rifle too. Hold o and you'll enter focus mode, which slows down the action enough for you to take aim on your soon-to-be-dead target, Hit u and bang, they're going down. The weapons on show are truly great - but of course this arsenal needs some fodder to slaughter in order to really excel and Resistance doesn't let you down.
There are quite a few species of Chimera loitering about the place. From the aggressive footsoldiers to equally angry behemoths wielding fireball bazookas, Resistance is packed with enemies. There's even a gangly one that sprints towards you like an angry Stephen Merchant. Each of the new aliens offers a fresh challenge to your tactics. Do you use the sniper rifle to pick off the speedy wall-leapers or do you rush into them with your shotgun blazing? Should you lay some acid bubble mines to cover your tracks from the pursuing pack or wait until they're in range and launch into an auto-turret, which will pepper them mercilessly with deadly bouncing bullets? Decisions, decisions.
STALKING THE STALK
But even when you think you've got it all sussed out, Resistance has a habit of throwing up something even nastier than before. Take the Stalkers, for instance. They look like a hybrid of ED-209 from the Robocop movies and a particularly large spider as they quickly scamper across the terrain, blasting off rockets and chucking bullets around with their rapid-fire gun turrets. They can take a fair bit of work to bring down, but they have got a weak spot, which we won't spoil for you. Brilliantly, Resistance surprised us by letting us drive them around later in the game. You also get to bomb about in a nippy jeep (with a mounted gun for a mate on the back) and a heavy-duty tank that can clear a rather bloody path with its rockets. Sweet.
And you can play online too. See the supplement free with this issue for the full lowdown on how Resistance online works, suffice to say that it works 'great', whether you're in a select deathmatch with a few of your mates or going balls-out in a 40-strong team game. It's impressive and glitch free - a real surprise for a launch game.
But, while Resistance is action-packed and full of little set-pieces - such as when a helicopter is attacked by a giant squidlike creature (known as an angel) - the story doesn't flow terribly well. Each of the destinations - barely recognisable apart from Cheddar Gorge and London - just feel like bog-standard first-person shooter arenas. You never really get a sense of achievement as you complete a level, as all you'll see is a lifeless cut-scene or a black and white still to piece together the rest of your quest in a particularly uninvolving way. And you never really find yourself warming to the near-mute potato-faced Hale.
But all the same, you can't go far wrong with Resistance: Fall Of Man. For a first stab at a first-person shooter, Insomniac have produced an incredibly slick, exciting PS3 showcase. Buy it alongside your new machine in March and get to see what all the fuss is about.