When I think of Resistance, I remember it mostly for its minimalistic design and the way it inspired an intriguing atmosphere with its well blended combination of audio and visuals. Despite its seemingly typical introduction, the story ultimately leaves an impact.
A mysterious virus originating in Russia has swept across Asia and Europe. Infected humans are being converted into strange creatures called Chimera. With their advanced technology, they infect other humans with the virus as a means of creating new forms of their species, easily conquering and spreading their armies across the world. In 1951, the infestation reaches Britain, resulting in catastrophic destruction.
The human race is left to hold a resistance.
It’s not far off from an apocalyptic zombie infiltration plot or something similar. What Resistance does differently is that it provides a unique combination of merging futuristic science fiction and realism, and the strong situational feelings that the austere environment provokes. It’s pretty cool to run around in a bleak 1950’s environment contrasting with futuristic weaponry. I would also argue that even though the story is admittedly cliché in premise, it respects the player by not filling in every gap, giving the game a continuous air of mystique that only thickens as you progress. Many unanswered questions percolate in the background.
This first person shooter is played through the eyes of Nathan Hale, an American soldier immediately dropped into battle where you see the incredible damage that the Chimera are capable of. After watching a couple of comrades get taken out in a single blow, emptying most of or all of your ammo, congratulations, you managed to kill two or three chimera out of the thousands to come. This unwelcoming introduction sets the tone for the daunting prospect of unbeatable odds. Soon, Hale becomes infected with the Chimeran virus, gaining a slight physical resemblance to the Chimera and regenerative health.
The health system in Resistance is a little different than other games. Health is segmented into four small bars. Once you lose a bar of health, it’s gone. You need health packs to replenish it. If you lose only a partial bar of health, you can take cover before taking any more damage and allow that bar to refill. This creates a vulnerable sensation in combat and is an interesting combination of new and old health mechanics in games.
I like that the first chapter is set up for the player to experience Hale as a human, followed by playing Hale as an infected human. It creates a reference point where you now have the perspective to gauge the strength difference between the Chimera and the humans. This is the turning point in Resistance where it begins to stray from its cliché roots. Hale may be an antihero or even an enemy in the making, you now have regenerative health which completely changes the tactics you’ll use in game, and you have clarity on the massive disadvantage of the humans.
It seems counter-intuitive to make a game that takes such a long time to distinguish itself. On top of that, it’s risky to have such a difficult first chapter if your goal is to recruit new players to stick with the game. This probably weeded out a lot of potential fans who got too bored or frustrated to continue. I find amusement in the idea the game rewards tenacity. It is called “Resistance” after all. It definitely makes you work to appreciate it, making it that much more fulfilling upon completion. Whether this theme is intentional or not, I don’t know, but it’s fun to think that this Darwinism was a reflection of the theme.
Having regenerative health definitely takes that overly challenging edge off from the first chapter. It promotes a variety of ways to use it to your advantage. You can take small amounts of damage and recover periodically or be more reckless and rely on picking up health packs. The downside is that having recovery time built into the game as a necessity can interrupt your rhythm if you happen to be on a streak because it takes a few uninterrupted seconds to fill back up. Since seconds are crucial in fast paced games like this, it can slow down the firefights.
The controls are smooth. There is a wide range of sensitivity available and you can invert the controls if that’s your thing. The game has occasional bugs like getting caught in a wall indefinitely, leaving you to self destruct or restart the game to continue, or mis-jumping in a crowded area can cause your screen to shake until the jump lands soundly. Personally, I think no FPS is complete without a classic glitch where you’re forced to resort to self destruction to move forward. These issues are rare and do not interfere with gameplay enough to render it unenjoyable. The only time the controls feel stiff or ineffective is when you’re in a vehicle of some sort. The steering becomes awkward to maneuver, too slippery, or not elastic enough. Maybe this was intentional to accentuate the difficulty in driving tanks, or maybe Hale is sipping substances other than water from his canteen.
On the first playthrough, the player builds a collection of eight guns and three types of grenades to use. On the second playthrough, there are up to twelve available guns and four grenade types. The player builds up a large arsenal throughout the game. To carry your growing collection, Resistance features the “Weapon Wheel,” literally a wheel of weapons you bring up on your screen. This is an efficient and creative concept since every weapon is at your disposal. Eventually you have enough foresight to consider what enemies might emerge from the environment you’re currently in because you get to know their typical habitats. Then you can pull up your weapon wheel instinctively and choose your weapon accordingly.
You’re given the choice of using Chimeran or human weapons. You can use an old fashioned shotgun one second, immediately followed by a high tech Bullseye; a classic Chimeran weapon that allows you to land a tag on an enemy that attracts your bullets to the enemy automatically. There’s a certain pride associated with the prospect of using a Chimera’s weapon against itself. Guns in this game additionally have a specialized secondary fire option that you can use in combination with grenades or regular fire to cause the most possible damage. If you’re not in the mood to shoot or you find yourself needing to conserve ammo, you can use an old school melee attack to kill an unsuspecting Chimera from behind.
While all of these things allow for a customized approach to handling enemies, too many choices can be a bad thing. You might find yourself sticking to a few familiar weapons just to save yourself the hassle, or moments of indecisiveness may affect your performance. If you analyze the Weapon Wheel from a logical standpoint, it makes no sense. Where is this wheel located in time and space? Is it inside of a Dino Cap like in Dragonball, releasing itself from a tiny capsule in a small explosion? Is it a figment of the mind?
The game creates an impressive balance between making the old and the new technology relevant under their own circumstances. Sure, the Chimera are more advanced and winning the war, but there is still a place for the modest human creations and that’s what makes Resistance feel like Resistance. For such a dark game it inspires this tiny glimmer of hope for the player who’s barely scraping by on what little ammo is provided by being smart and resourceful, highlighting that strong-willed resistance theme yet again.
The gameplay can feel repetitive due to being segmented into chapters that are structured similarly followed by cut scenes, but the variety kicks in as you enter new environments and get introduced to a more varied collection of enemy types with new weapons to blast them with. The chapter pacing can be a good thing if you like to have a predictable, defined stopping point when playing games.
Fortunately, the game offers easy, medium, hard, and an unlockable superhuman mode, increasing its replay value infinitely and breaking up enemy patterns. Each mode offers a slightly different experience so it’s worth it to experience them all. You can also collect intel reports that are scattered throughout certain levels. This a nice optional addition because it offers depth to the plot if you choose to collect and read them. Lots of them are on your way through the natural course of the story but some are in hard to find places that more exploratory players will come across. If you don’t care about piecing details of the plot together in your spare time or obsessing over different species of Chimera, then you can just ignore these.
There’s also a split screen only co-op mode that makes the game a different experience. It’s more social and you now have a buddy to back you up. I love this feature just as a change of pace, but it does change the tone of the game to have the support of a friend nearby. From the point of view of someone just trying to have a good time, this feature is a fun addition.
For players who like to thoroughly explore what the game has to offer or goof around by needlessly destroying their surroundings, skill points are rewarded for basically doing out of the ordinary or challenging things. On my very first playthrough I accidentally acquired one of the most difficult skill points. I didn’t use a single grenade for the duration of the game because I was an anxious mess and didn’t want to worry about that element while already trying to shoot straight, crouch, strafe, and not die. I made the game ten times harder for myself by doing this and had no idea I was going to be rewarded with a skill point for it! It’s a pleasant surprise when you’re just doing what you do as a player and the game recognizes you for it.
The audio and visual components of the game are essential in making it what it is. Its colour palette consists of ashy greys and desaturated earth tones, creating a desolate atmosphere which reflects the storyline of the seemingly futile war between the Chimera and the humans. Because your senses are so actively engaged in surviving among already detailed graphics, the lack of colour doesn’t seem like a loss. If you are someone who needs rich and saturated environments for visual stimulation, this may not be for you. Typical Resistance environments include abandoned English cities, miscellaneous wreckage, fields, wooded areas, and creepy Chimeran architecture invented solely for the game that resembles the slimy organic material that’s so prevalent in the Alien movies. You even get to run around famous landmarks.
The soundtrack lies more on the ambient end of the spectrum. It immerses the player in the environment but then crescendos abruptly to the appropriate intensity, waxing and waning depending on what’s happening on screen.There are periods of silence chosen to highlight certain moments that can cause more tension than music. Like its muted colour palette, this is another area where the game utilizes the less is more concept. The sound effects bridge the musical and graphical elements together well. Acquiring health packs is associated with a sound as refreshing and memorable as magic like “cure” from any Final Fantasy game. The Chimera are brought to life with their own specific sounds depending on the species, adding even more depth to discerning your reactions when put in threatening situations. I had a particularly moving experience playing this game with headphones and really being able to appreciate the sound design.
Overall, Resistance feels like a dreary but at the same time action-packed horror game with subtle variations between genres. It should also be mentioned that there was a very in depth multiplayer mode but, sadly, the servers have been taken down at this point so it is no longer present. Still, this game has a lot of density considering it takes about ten to fifteen hours to complete doing the bare minimum. The typical storyline in the beginning of the game evolves gracefully into its own style, perhaps too late for some people to give it a chance. It challenges you right from the beginning and there is something new to appreciate about it with each playthrough.
Like most first person shooters, the story in Resistance takes a back seat to its fresh mechanical features and innovative weapons. The culmination of small atmospheric details make this game what it is. It’s an outlier among more main stream shooters and is cheap for the amount of entertainment it provides. If you’re up to the task and looking for a game that makes you stay alert, focused, and in the moment, this is definitely worth checking out. It’s also great for getting out some aggression after a long day.
+ Inventive weapons
+ Eerie audio and visual experience
+ Variety of enemy types
– Defunct online play
– Slow and difficult start
What is a hindsight review? It’s an article in which a Geekiverse writer reviews a game that they have never played before and is outside its launch window. It offers a fresh perspective and shows which games in your backlog are worth playing through.
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