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Resistance 2

21 Nov 2008  by   Paul Younger
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I’m stood atop a skyscraper in Chicago staring at one of the most enormous creatures I’ve ever seen. It’s stomping through the city with a blatant disregard for local health and safety regulations and for a moment I’m frozen to the spot, awestruck by the sheer scale of the thing. And then I fire a rocket, more out of interest than anything else. The creature is hundreds of feet tall, it’s not going to be affected by one little – oh.  I begin to regret my decision as it turns its head in my direction, lets out a blood-curdling roar and begins moving towards me. I’m even more surprised when it swipes me up in one of its giant hands and, after showering me with alien phlegm, decides that a spot of human flesh will do nicely for lunch.Big, you see, is the new black when it comes to sequels. For a recent example, look at Gears of War 2 – a game which throws up some gigantic set pieces and, as a result, is better than its predecessor. The good news is that developer Insomniac adopted a similar MO when designing the follow up to Resistance: Fall of Man. Resistance 2 was raised on Red Bull and steroids, and the result is a fantastic sequel which entirely eclipses its forebear. Fall of who?Once again you take on the role of US soldier Nathan Hale as he joins the battle to fend off the tyrannous alien race, the Chimera. Having destroyed the main Chimera tower in London, Hale is picked up by a mysterious Black Ops unit which has been monitoring his progress throughout his British escapades. He is invited to join the Sentinels – a group of soldiers also found to be immune to the Chimeran virus which devastated the human race. Now Britain has fought off the invaders, the majority of the single player campaign in Resistance 2 takes place in the United States. Whilst it was nice to see Britain as a setting for a big-budget action game, Insomniac’s decision to shift the action to the US benefits the sequel immensely.The first thing you will notice is just how different the game looks to Fall of Man. The latter was criticised for its somewhat limited colour palette (“do you want that in grey or dark grey?”) and the developer has clearly taken this on board when crafting the sequel. Resistance 2 is a much more colourful game, something which owes a lot to the new and varied environments you’ll find yourself in. The American levels, particularly, sport some stunning visuals, up there with the best we’ve seen on the PS3.  From the vibrant green woods of California to the dusty Utah desert, Resistance 2 offers some exciting new locales which give the sequel a much more distinct identity. One level midway through the game, finds you in Twin Falls, Idaho – basically, classic 50s small-town America. The eerie soundscape matches the visuals perfectly to create the kind unsettling atmosphere that the first game never quite achieved.  It’s clear that Insomniac wanted the sequel to be a different beast and the new settings have allowed the developer more freedom in terms of creating a new game world.That’s not to say that Resistance 2 will feel unfamiliar, however. The weapon load-out sports all the favourites from the original including the ever-reliable Carbine and the cover-busting Auger. Insomniac has also seen fit to provide some new killing tools this time around. Among the new weapons are the Wraith minigun, the Marksman (a burst-fire sniper rifle) and the Splicer which fires saw blades (one of numerous nods to Half Life 2) at the enemy, often resulting in gruesome dismemberment. However, the best first person shooters always sport a good pistol and Resistance 2 is no exception. The new .44 Magnum, at first glance, is a nice, powerful shooter but then you discover its little secret. The Magnum fires explosive rounds that can be detonated remotely. This means you can put a few bullets into a crowd of enemies and then detonate them and watch the body parts fly. Although the fact that Insomniac has limited you to carrying 2 weapons at a time may initially feel restrictive, each weapon also has a secondary fire option which keeps your tactical options open.You’ll need to utilise all of your armoury when it comes to taking down the wide range of enemies on offer in Resistance 2. Joining the Hybrids are some intriguing new basic grunt foes, perhaps the best being the Grims – lightning-quick zombies who charge at you in terrifying numbers in an attempt to claw your face off. It’s undeniably thrilling to fight your way through a 30-strong horde of Grims, with a limited supply of ammo at your disposal.Insomniac also decided to ramp up the scale of major enemies, meaning you’ll find yourself in the middle of some frankly jaw-dropping set-piece boss battles. Whether it’s the aquatic Kraken trying to drag you to the bottom of the sea, or the aforementioned Leviathan laying waste to Chicago, the boss battles pack the kind of cinematic punch that has to be seen to be believed.However, it’s not all good news on the new enemy front. While the Grims and the bosses are welcome additions, the Chameleons and the Furies are not. The former has a Predator-like cloaking system and a devastating attack which will end you in one hit. Insomniac has seemingly chosen the most irritating moments to bring out the Chameleons and you’ll find yourself playing the “remember where the monster spawns” game in order to advance. Which, let’s face it, has never been fun.The Furies (creatures which lurk in the water) are equally annoying as the developer decided to make them indestructible. This means that if you land in water (which will happen a lot, due to the misguided platforming sections) you will instantly die at the hands of a Fury. It’s a cheap, dated game mechanic clearly designed to stretch out the lifespan of the ten hour single player game. As a result you’ll find yourself retreading old ground far too often, caught up in a frustrating game of trial and error. In fact, whilst Resistance 2 is a clear step forward for the franchise, it still suffers from some of the same problems as its predecessor.The storyline, for one, manages to be both convoluted and packed with clichés. It’s impossible to give a damn about Hale, or any of the game’s characters, as they are entirely one dimensional. There’s nothing likeable about anyone in the game and the story suffers immensely. There’s also a lack of structure to the narrative – there is no narrator and the player is expected to keep track of the story through the charmless cutscenes and intel dotted around the maps.However, while the story is not as gripping as it ought to be, the action certainly is. Resistance 2 is not free of problems by any means, but they don’t define it. The sequel’s successes outweigh its failures and Resistance 2 is a perfect example of how scale can make a huge difference. A tight, fluid shooter has now become an action-packed, bombastic thrill ride and the franchise is all the better for it.     

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