Resistance told the story of Nathan Hale, a solider that fought in the military against the invading Chimera. The military forces of the world came together to hold back the Chimeran invasion. That didn't go so well. Resistance 2 takes the battle to the United States, where Hale helps fight off a full-scale invasion on both of the country's coasts. That didn't go very well, either.
Resistance 3 is very different from those game. The story has progressed to the point where the war has been lost, and now the world has been taken over by the Chimera. The invasion is fully underway, and the surviving people of the world are still adjusting. Joseph Capelli is the main character; and those who played Resistance 2 will know him very well. How he relates to Nathan Hale is a huge spoiler for those that didn't finish Resistance 2.
Joseph has a wife and child and is just trying to survive in this post-invasion world. Dr. Malakov, a key figure from Resistance 2, tracks Joseph down with a last-ditch effort to save the world. The Doctor says that if they can get to New York there might be a way to halt the progress of the invasion. Joe would rather stay with his family but is ultimately convinced that he needs to go. The story in Resistance 3 is Joseph's journey. It takes players on an American trip from Haven, Okalahoma to New York, but is unlike any cross-country road trip you've ever been on.
At a preview event last night, Insomniac showed off Resistance 3. They said their goal was to show off the variety of gameplay and the improvements in player choice in this upcoming PS3 release. They offered up a live demo to press members and then let us play three more to show that they weren't kidding. There's more of everything in Resistance 3 -- weapons, enemies, stages, choices, gameplay types and more.
Insomniac was happy to show off the improved weapons they've built for this outing. With all the weapons in Resistance 3, Insomniac has completely reevaluated how they function. They kept the franchise function of secondary fire for all weapons, but even weapons that have been in the games since the beginning have been retooled and refocused. Audio, visual effects, sights and scopes, ranges and performance have been overhauled. A weapon leveling system has been included, letting players upgrade firepower as they progress.
Lots of other changes were made to promote player choice. Level design has intentionally been opened up from Resistance 2, creating more paths to give players additional choices in all stages. Enemies are now a lot less scripted than they were in the past games. Insomniac says that they've rebuilt the enemy AI from the ground up so that instead of placing enemies around stages, they've now given 'jobs' to enemies. Their preset behavior determines if they're aggressive or defensive, moving or stationary. This new AI lets the characters evaluate the situation -- level placement, terrain, player location -- and sort of decide on their own how to approach the player. This means that enemies won't always be in the same location. We were told that even the level designers are sometimes caught off guard by what an enemy does in the levels.
Mt. Pleasant is not pleasant:
We first saw a live demo of a newly revealed stage, set in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Insomniac says that this stage is about halfway through the campaign. It takes place at night, and starts out in the moonlight woods, with wind and light rain coming down. Dim lighting and shadow were used to great effect in this stage -- it looked very nice. Compared with other stages we've seen, this one is more deliberately paced. Joseph is forced into the role of a sniper up against other snipers, trying to move through the woods as they attempt to pick him off from the surrounding hills.
This stage featured a enemy called the Sniper Hybrid. A cloaking device doesn't make them completely invisible, but they get close enough to invisible to really put the pressure on. You can trace back their location from the laser sights coming from their guns, but don't expect them to stay still once you spot them. The idea of a nearly invisible sniper was originally questioned by some staff, but ultimately the team found they provided a fun challenge. The Hybrids were tricky enough to have the actual level designer die in his own level during a live demo.
As the level progressed, Joseph moves into mine caves, which provided contrast to the woods with their tight quarters and even less light. Being mostly flashlight lit, the tension is even a bit higher than being out in the open with snipers overhead. In these caves, we saw a new enemy that can shield another through a tether. This tether can move from enemy to enemy freely to protect them. This tether shield, combined with its erratic movement, made this character a real bitch to tackle, especially in these tight quarters.
I'm on a boat!
Boat level starts out slow, like a guided tour in a theme park. We mean that in the best way. It's set on the muddy Mississippi river, where old, broken-down hotels sit on the shore. In this level, Joseph rides with Dr. Malikov driving, as they both head toward St. Louis.
It's almost a shooting gallery at first, but it slowly escalates to have you defending the boat you're on, using your shotgun to blast obstacles out of the way. Eventually you find yourself under attack, with enemies attacking from the shores, water and air, from all sides. Chimera were jumping on deck, running right up to my face, making me panic. Luckily, I had an unlimited ammo supply on deck. Shotguns to all Chimeran faces!
Finally, as the river opens up and things seem to calm down, a fantastically massive Goliath appears on the horizon, from the mist. This sucker was huge! The water in the river thrashes as the Goliath stomps closer, bringing with it all manner of enemies. Things become hectic quickly as Joseph has to run around this small boat, which is now coming apart, trying to defend it. The demo ended as a second Goliath approached. This boat demo was one hell of a ride. I'm looking forward to seeing how it ends up in the full game.
Oklahoma! Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain...
If you've ever been to Oklahoma, you know it sucks. This version of the "OK State" is way worse, but infinitely more exciting. In this stage, Haven Town Defense, Joseph fights alongside other townspeople to defend the city junkyard against dropships full of Chimera. At first it starts with sniping off individual Chimera, but this defense mission escalates quickly as more and bigger invaders are brought in. The sky begins to darken and the winds begin to pick up as Chimera push the townspeople back into ruined buildings. I was still picking off individuals from the hordes of enemies when I was called to fall back.
As the stage progresses Joseph finds himself on Main Street in Haven. It's broken from the invasion -- streets are cracked, buildings are damaged -- and it's there that a boss battle with a Brawler takes place. This big, monkey-like beast would rush me every time I fired at it, forcing me to run for cover. By this time, the weather had escalated to a point where the winds were now at full storm level, making it impossible to run to cover. What I saw of the weather effects during this tense battle were amazing. The sky was a burnt yellow, the clouds were dark grey, and rain drops and trash streaked by as I ran from this Brawler. He finally went down, but I almost went down several times in the process. I think Insomniac scattered around a few extra health packs for this demo.
As promised, a great range of gameplay was offered up at this preview event. Everything from the art and lighting to the level design approach and enemy types greatly varied from stage to stage. The moonlight, slow-paced sniper action of the Mt. Pleasant woods was worlds away from the high winds and constant pressure of waves of enemies in Haven, Oklahoma. The boat tour started out like a kid's ride at a theme park, but ended up closer to a terrifying rollercoaster. Each level was paced with such care that I felt like I was taken for a really memorable adventure. What's especially encouraging is that I only saw selected pieces of this game during the event.
Resistance 3 seems to be an introduction of more of everything into the franchise. Insomniac is going big, and they're not afraid to show it. There's more and better weapons, more player choice, more challenge from the enemies, new enemies, new types of locales, and bigger levels. All of this encourages players to approach the game in their own way, and play it with their own style. It's more game, as you'd expect in a sequel, but Resistance 3 is also more of an experience.
From what I've seen so far, it's already approaching epic.