While another high profile trilogy recently coming to an end on the Xbox 360, over on the PS3 the fight also reached a head against a similarly rampant alien invasion. It is of course our old enemy, the Chimera, who are intent on decimating the human race and turning earth into a glorified icebox. Seriously, it could happen. Naturally, only one man can save the day, and by chance you play that man throughout the course of the game in a first person fashion.
Erstwhile hero Nathan Hale is no more, replaced by the man who put him out of his Chimeran misery. His name is Joe, and with the help of a nutty professor he intends to traverse the breadth of the United States to get to New York and close down a wormhole. Which is essentially what happened in Duke Nukem Forever. The narrative here is a little subtler however, with Joe forced to abandon his wife and young son to make the arduous journey. Ably tugging on the heartstrings, cut scenes see Joe tenderly cradling his son’s mitten, which he carries as a keepsake throughout the odyssey.
It’s a fair odd trek, and given that this is a 1950’s Americana decimated by an alien force, not one that can be carried out without a little ingenuity. As such, Joe traverses the States via a series of planes, trains and automobiles, hampered throughout by the murderous Chimera. Along the way he encounters pockets of survivors to break up the solitude, or indeed the entire game can be played co-operatively, either online, or with somebody invading your personal space.
Broken up into 20 chapters, it’s a well-paced affair, with frantic battles and occasional bosses interspersed by some more personal episodes, with a number of unlikely twists en route. In terms of atmosphere, the '50s setting is superb, with demolished billboards and authentic vehicles evoking a real War Of The Worlds feel. And while it does tick a few FPS boxes -the train level, the sewer level- it’s all done with panache and in a way that permanently keeps you on your toes.
The enemy and your weapons
You'll eventually grow to hate the Chimera, and take great pleasure in slaughtering them by the thousand. This being the 1950s, earth guns are fairly rudimentary compared to the Chimeran weapons of mass destruction. Fortunately, the advanced technology is carelessly left sitting around unguarded in barns, enabling you to easily amass a fearsome artillery. Selected via a slightly twitchy wheel system, the entire action pauses while you select your weapon, which does slightly diminish the tension. Nevertheless, by the end of the game you will have a dozen weapons at your fingertips, including a shotgun, a Magnum, and pleasingly, a sledgehammer. The rest are alien concoctions, and it is here that the game really shines, with some genuinely inventive ways of dishing out a portion of death to the insectoid invaders.
Each weapon has an elaborate secondary mode, and you pretty much end up using everything on offer in what is a vaguely tactical approach. Admittedly that tactic is often a case of seeing what ammo you are suddenly given, and using it accordingly, but there is some hugely entertaining gunplay throughout. Moreover, the weapons upgrade on the fly, based on the age-old videogaming tenet of something improving the more you use it. As such, you might suddenly find yourself with a new - lifesaving - gadget at your disposal in the midst of a firefight.
Multiplayer-wise, Resistance 3 is a tighter affair than previously, with 16-player battles on offer. It’s also compatible with Move, and the attendant Sharp Shooter plastic gun accessory. It’s even playable in 3D. The real value however is sitting down and ploughing through the single player campaign, and you do genuinely feel compelled to push on, not merely to save mankind but to be reunited with your wife and kid. The story does draw you in, perhaps because the lead proponent is a decent humble man as opposed to a bullnecked marine. Either way, it’s compelling stuff, and this is not only one of the best first person shooters on the PS3, but a strong candidate for one of the best of the year, on any format.
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The PS3-exclusive Resistance trilogy winds up with a dramatic conclusion. By turns frantic, yet pensive, bleak yet hopeful, it’s an epic cross-country journey of redemption. It’s also a fairly straightforward first person shooter given gravitas by a compelling narrative, beautifully damaged scenery, hateful enemies, varied missions and some emphatic innovative gunplay. Always entertaining, and strangely moving, it’s an intelligent counterblast to the macho bluster of Gears Of War.