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Resistance Retrospective - From The Fall to Today

G4Staff

Posted May 30, 2012 - By G4 Staff


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Resistance Burning Skies

Resistance: Burning Skies is arguably the most keenly anticipated Vita game to date. The big deal with Vita’s second analogue stick is a lot to do with the PSP wanting to showcase the kinds of game coming out on PS3, but struggling to with just one stick. In Burning Skies, the Vita has the ultimate test of that additional analogue stick: a first-person shooter.

But Burning Skies isn’t just about the Vita and FPS games. It’s also the fifth game in the nearly 6-years-old Resistance franchise. Sony’s PlayStation-exclusive series first burst on to our screens with Fall of Man, but now, one trilogy and millions sold worldwide later, the flame that developer Insomniac Games once held has not been passed on. Who will take it up next? Will anyone?

There’s a chance that Burning Skies will be the final game in what’s been one of the biggest PlayStation franchises of this generation. So if Burning Skies is the last we’ll see of the Chimera and their scary, scary teeth, it would seem high time that we paid some retrospective dues to a series that taught us just how much fun a grenade with spikes attached to it could be.

Here’s our game-by-game retrospective of the Resistance series.

Resistance: Fall of Man

Resistance: Fall of Man

In late 2006, the PlayStation 3 stuttered into launch with a no-thanks line-up of games and a yeah-right price tag. At the time, the one ray of software light for Sony was as simple as a printed-out screenshot of Call of Duty with some aliens doodled onto it, but just as fun.

Few would say it innovated much, but Insomniac’s shooter did have a bit of everything. Carving through the mist of downtrodden 50s England while straining to spot the big old canines and neon spine-sticks of the Chimera evoked the eerie dystopia of Half-Life 2. The weaponry, meanwhile, had the sci-fi swank of a Halo; slowing down time to snipe mutant-alien punks was cool, but gunning them through walls with the Auger was like a giant ego-cuddle. As for Call of Duty, that was there in the twitchiness of the single-player’s cover and fire, but that twitchiness transformed into Quake-like bedlam in the close-quarters 40-player multiplayer, and all at a locked, silky smooth 30fps.

Also, it’s probably the only game to venture into the North of England – a cold place full of tradition and meat puddings. We saw Nathan Hale swashbuckle a UK tour, discovering secret Chimeran tunnels that led him all the way to the Tower of London which he of course destroyed with an explosion so mighty that it liberated all of Britain (including the North) from the sharp-toothed doodads. And so it all ended.

Except it had only just begun. Even with the PS3’s poor launch, Fall of Man sold and rated encouragingly. Some reviewers went as far as to use those holy ancient words “killer” and “app” to describe it. On the subject of holy criticism, there was also the matter of the Church of England accusing both Insomniac and Sony of desecration for featuring violence within the walls of a virtual Manchester Cathedral. After the story broke, the game’s UK sales swiftly rose, and sharply. File that under Mysterious Ways of God.

Resistance 2 Pre-Order Multiplayer Skins Now Available For Free

Resistance 2

Two years later, the PS3/360 battle was in full swing. The term “system seller” was being thrown around like a naughty magazine at recess, and no more so than in the lead-up to a frantic Q4 that saw Gears of War 2 and Resistance 2 release in the same week. Of course they were two pretty different games, but that didn’t stop all manner of flag-waving, from console fanboys right up to Microsoft and Sony execs.

So the spotlight was on Resistance 2, and the expectations were astronomical. Unlike the second Gears game, the Resistance sequel changed up the formula significantly, and it was soon evident that it wasn’t going to please everyone. In fact, so fervent was the criticism from certain quarters that Insomniac’s community manager spoke up about how the “hardcore fans” had decreed Resistance 2 a failure.

What got on people’s nerves? There was the change in presentation, with the haunting atmosphere of the first game replaced by a more bombastic, colourful, action film approach. The weapon-wheel made way for two-weapon restriction, and the health bar for regenerative health. Some argued, and loudly, that Resistance lost its identity through the changes, that it had become so generic it was plain dull.

Plenty of people didn’t, though. The critics rated Resistance 2 higher than Fall of Man, and it sold over 3 million copies worldwide. They enjoyed watching Hale make the journey back home to defend the stars and stripes from full-scale Chimeran invasion. After all, in America everything is bigger, and this was definitely true of Resistance 2.

Many players appreciated the cranked up Bay factor of the campaign, revelling in pushing through the Godzilla-like boss fights and working out how to defeat the increasing numbers of smarter, meaner Chimera. Particular love was given to the 8-player co-op which cleverly mixed Call of Duty’s RPG perks with Team Fortress 2’s class-based shooting to make an online FPS mode that stood out. Insomniac may not have been thrilled with the reception, but the figures paint Resistance 2 out as a big success.

resistance retribution, insomniac games, ted price is awesome

Resistance: Retribution

The series then took a diversion onto PSP in 2009 in the hands of Sony’s Oregon-based Bend studio. Bend brought their experience with Syphon Filter to Resistance’s handheld debut, and the end result was as classy a handheld shooter as we’ve seen to date – Burning Skies potentially aside.

While the design changes in Resistance 2 were divisive, the handheld application of Retribution reeked of sense. Third-person shooting with assisted targeting and context-sensitive cover compensated for the lack of a second stick, and the PSP’s power was used to full effect to retain the spectacle of Retribution’s siblings. But what was the game’s USP? Well, it required a USB stick, a PS3, and copy of Resistance 2.

Most things that involve linking a handheld to a home console aren’t worth the time, but Retribution’s infected mode was pretty interesting. By connecting the PSP to the PS3 you could infect the game’s new protagonist James Grayson with a virus similar to the one that infected Hale. Not only did his infected eyes glow a cool ochre, but Mutant Grayson got regenerative health and could breathe underwater to reach places he couldn’t before. Maybe most fun was seeing how the story changed, albeit in subtle ways. The infected mode added to a game already strong in content, and rewarded fans for their loyalty.

Set in between the first two games, Retribution also rewarded fans with titbit reveals as they bombed around Western Europe conking continental Chimera. Maybe the most interesting was finding out why we hadn’t seen female Chimera until they actually appeared in Retribution. Let’s just be glad that when it came to naming them it only went as far as “boilers” and “hags”.

Resistance 3 Gameplay Trailer, Screens Reveal Chimera Brawler

Resistance 3

One thing people did agree about regards Resistance 2 was its soul-slap of an ending – in a good way. Having been infected with the virus which transforms humans into Chimera, Hale destroys the invading fleet all on his own (albeit with a nuclear warhead) only to then finally succumb to the virus’ effects.

As the evil glows in Hale’s scarlet eyes, it’s up to belligerent squad-mate Joseph Capelli to turn the gun on our hero. With barely a moment’s thought, Capelli shoots Hale point-blank in the head. Fade out.

Resistance 3 picked up four years later, with a dishonoured Capelli hiding with his family in a settlement secluded away from the Chimera. But within seconds of the title screen the Chimera were tearing up the place. Soon enough, Capelli is thrust into the bleak post-apocalyptic wilderness (you know the type) to make one last hurrah to bring down the Chimera and save the human race. And just as it was humanity’s last hurrah, Resistance 3 was Insomniac’s last hurrah with the franchise.

In light of feedback they got with Resistance 2, Insomniac resurrected the first game’s weapon wheel and health bar, and then complemented them with an experience-based (of sorts) upgrade system for weaponry. The mix of all these elements, along with the scale and cinematic action that Resistance 2 brought to the series, made for a finale that drew high acclaim.

There was a sense of experimentation that the series had never had in previous incarnations. The game’s hefty range of weapons all had Insomniac’s marquee whimsical twists on them, like a meaty shotgun with combustible bullets and a sniper rifle that can shoot through walls like the Auger. And yet even with the gleeful approach to weaponry, Resistance 3 made time for tension and horror.

Clearly Insomniac were satisfied enough with Resistance 3, even if the game has appeared to not sell as well as previous entries. With the studio moving on to four-player zany co-op with new IP Overstrike, CEO Ted Price revealed earlier this year that Insomniac would not be making any further Resistance games. And with the universe seemingly saved at the end of Resistance 3, that’s would appear to just about be it for this venerable series. Oh, wait, that’s right...

Resistance Burning Skies

Resistance: Burning Skies

Yes, a Resistance game is coming to our Vita screens courtesy of the good folk at Nihilistic Software, a name you may recognize from Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption. Like Retribution, it takes place in the gap between Fall of Man and Resistance 2, although it will tie closely to the events of the latter in particular. You won’t be playing as James Grayson this time, or Hale or Capelli for that matter. Burning Skies puts you in role of Tom Riley, a fireman caught up in the invasion upon Ellis Island in 1951.

The spotlight is definitely on Burning Skies less because it’s a new Resistance game and more to do with its status as the first portable FPS with dual analogue stick controls. Resistance fans, meanwhile, will be hopeful that it carries on the legacy of what has been one of this generation’s strongest new franchises. After all, just because Insomniac won’t be involved that doesn’t mean there won’t be a Resistance 4. So it’s up to Burning Skies to keep the good name and those very scary teeth going. Let’s hope it can.

Resistance Retrospective - From The Fall to Today
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