The nature of the combat against the Chimera changes quite dramatically depending on where you're fighting. Much of the shooting in Resistance occurs at medium and long ranges as you, any fellow soldiers, and the Chimera move from cover to cover, taking potshots. However, you can also look forward to plenty of room-to-room fighting, as well as shoot-outs from within dimly lit, claustrophobic corridors. Even if you don't usually get a good sense of a desperate war being waged, you get a good sense of scale from the different environments in the game. Battles can be particularly fun when you're joined by friendly soldiers and get to intercept enemies focused on taking down these computer-controlled comrades. But there are never more than a handful of humans there to help you out, and they'll probably wind up dead soon anyway. The game does have a few nice moments in which you're able to save another man's life as he's about to be executed by a Chimeran monster. Yet this aspect seems like it could have been more fleshed out because the game does little to make you care for your disposable allies, who run into combat shouting typical "we're under fire" platitudes.
A few vehicle-driving sequences are thrown into the campaign for good measure.
For variety, Resistance throws a few vehicle-driving sequences into the mix. And if you squinted your eyes during these parts, you could mistake them for Halo. Piloting a highly destructive tank or driving a jeep with a machine gunner in back does make for a good diversion, though these vehicles are so powerful that they make you wonder how humanity lost so badly to the Chimera in the first place. Then again, the Chimera have a few imposingly large vehicles and creatures of their own. Yet the way that the human vehicles make you feel practically indestructible undermines some of the sense that you're fighting an uphill battle. Even so, these sequences are rare and different enough from the on-foot running and gunning that they're a welcome part of the campaign. While fairly straightforward, the campaign does a great job of never stooping to make you backtrack, solve puzzles, or otherwise waste time doing anything other than fighting against powerful foes. It does this for a good 10 to 12 hours, culminating in a series of difficult showdowns.
There are several good reasons to go back to the campaign multiple times, including the extra weapons that get unlocked after you finish the game once. You can optionally play through the whole campaign cooperatively in a split-screen view, though it's too bad you can't play cooperatively online. Co-op mode naturally invites some new types of tactics, and it's somewhat easier than playing solo because you can revive your partner if he goes down, which is a good way to take the edge off of the hard difficulty mode. The campaign also lets you dig around for unique pieces of military intelligence that are scattered throughout the levels, which give some additional insight into the Chimeran menace and the back story. Finally, the campaign features a series of unlockable challenges that are called skill points, which are achieved by accomplishing certain specific feats. For instance, you can earn one by roasting several bad guys with a single air-fuel grenade. These points are tallied up to unlock some bonus features, such as concept art galleries.
Of course, there's an entire multiplayer mode to keep you busy in addition to the campaign. Multiplayer features a variety of maps (based on areas from the campaign), some of which accommodate smaller eight-player or 16-player matches, while others are intended for full-on 40-player war. There are six different multiplayer variants in all, including your conventional deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture-the-flag types. There's also a last-man-standing-style mode called "conversion"; and two base assault modes, called "meltdown" and "breach," which are reminiscent of Unreal Tournament 2004's onslaught mode in how they're set up to make players fight over specific points on each map. Playing on prerelease servers with a full 40 players, we experienced smooth, lag-free battles in each of these different modes of play, although your mileage may vary. You can also play over a network or try to squeeze some enjoyment out of a split-screen mode for up to four players. Resistance's online multiplayer interface lets you easily find ranked or custom, unranked matches. It also includes support for setting up competitive clans, a "party" system for seeking out online matches together with your friends, and a "buddy" system for keeping track of which of your friends are online. You'll also rank up and earn special insignias based on your multiplayer accomplishments.
The human and Chimeran sides have some distinct gameplay differences in the multiplayer modes of Resistance.
The most interesting aspect of Resistance's multiplayer mode is that you can play as either the humans or the Chimeran hybrids, and the two sides are quite different. Humans can quickly sprint from point to point and have access to an onscreen radar that points out both friends and foes. Chimerans make bigger targets and don't have a radar but can enter into a rage at the touch of a button, which temporarily makes them faster, stronger, tougher...and capable of seeing through walls. Although either type of character can use any weapon once they pick it up, the respective sides also start off with their standard-issue rifles. Overall, the differences between the two sides are pronounced yet seem nicely balanced. The multiplayer modes typically force you to change sides in between rounds, which also helps break up the pace of these matches. Even if it boils down to the same type of thing that other shooters have been doing for a while, the well-designed weaponry, exciting presentation, and support for a large number of players makes Resistance's multiplayer mode impressive.
Resistance is going to invite a lot of close scrutiny on the most superficial level. And in spite of a few easily dismissed rough edges, it looks fantastic. Much like the rest of the game, the quality of the visuals might not be vastly superior to what other graphically impressive shooters have delivered in the past, but they're at least as good and marginally better in most ways. The Chimeran hybrids are great to see in action, and you'll likely appreciate how errant gunfire tends to puncture the tubing on their strange backpacks. The game features some great-looking flame effects and some strikingly impressive yet underutilized glass-shattering. It also features plenty of excellent lighting and weapon fire, as well as beautifully rendered, realistic environments. Although, some of the visual design, such as for the Chimera's ominous-looking steel barriers that wall off portions of England's cities, evokes a real Half-Life 2 vibe. Resistance doesn't always succeed at clearly defining its own visual style, but the visuals still are terrific and will substantially contribute to your enjoyment of the game as a whole. It helps that the frame rate stays smooth and steady even when the action gets very intense. Bear in mind that Resistance looks much better when viewed on a high-definition display; on a standard television set, the game's visuals seem understated and may be hard to distinguish from those of other sci-fi-themed shooters.
It's good news that Resistance plays about as good as it looks.
The audio doesn't give up much slack either. Powerful weapon effects reverberate loudly throughout the game, though the human rifle's roar is much more dramatic than the bullseye's high-pitched whine. The sound of stray gunfire hitting everything around you will be more than enough to make you look for cover. And the Chimera sound appropriately menacing, if predictable, with their low, guttural growls. Resistance's musical score is fittingly bombastic, symphonic stuff and picks up sparingly during particularly key moments during the campaign. It's not especially memorable, but it works very well to deliver some of the campaign's most exciting sequences. Besides the narration, there's not a lot of speech in the game, either. But what's there is fine, even if the British soldiers you'll be fighting alongside seem just a little too upbeat about the dire circumstances. As for Resistance's other technical merits, loading times between missions are noticeable but not bad in spite of how the game frequently writes to the PS3's hard drive between missions, presumably to help keep loading times to a minimum.
If you consider yourself a fan of first-person shooters, then you really owe it to yourself to give Resistance: Fall of Man a shot. Whether that means taking the plunge for a PlayStation 3, playing one over at your filthy-rich friend's house, or whatever else it's going to take is beside the point. What matters is that developer Insomniac Games took the best aspects of some of the best first-person shooters from the past couple of years, added some great weapons and visual flourishes, and put it all together just in time for the PS3's launch.