Resistance 3: A balanced send-off


Tiger Media Network

Warning: This article contains some spoilers for the “Resistance 3” and “Resistance 2” stories.

While never truly reaching the heights of other FPS juggernauts, Sony’s “Resistance” series maintained a strong following with its first two entries, “Resistance: Fall of Man” and “Resistance 2,” released in the early days of Sony’s iconic PlayStation 3 console. While both games undeniably have their flaws, both are fun shooters with great mechanics, memorable setpieces, and an intriguing story of humanity on its last legs against a deadly alien species. 

This saga came to an end in 2011, with Insomniac developing and releasing the final entry in the trilogy, “Resistance 3.” Of the games in this series, the third entry is the one most fondly remembered by critics, with some deeming it the best in the trilogy. However, unlike the previous two entries, which sold well, “Resistance 3” flopped sales-wise, resulting in Sony abandoning the series, cemented by the shutdown of all “Resistance” servers in 2014. 

My feelings towards “Resistance 3” are a bit complicated. In many ways, I can absolutely see why this game would be considered the best, but in others, I want to know what the critics were smoking. For one, the third entry brings back key features that were desperately missed in “2,” and its shedding of military elements makes for an intriguing post-invasion story. But at the same time, many elements of the story and characters do not sit well with me at all, and some design choices flat-out drive me crazy. But overall, “Resistance 3” is a very fine first-person shooter with a decent enough story and a fun gameplay loop, which more than deserves praise. 

Release and additional info: 

  • Released in September of 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3
  • Developed by Insomniac Games, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment 
  • Sheds much of the military elements from the first two installments, opting for a more post-apocalyptic story
  • Fully supported the use of the PlayStation Move motion controller
  • Several different tactics were used for marketing it, including a billboard on the set of the film Battle: Los Angeles and a social media strategy game called “Global Resistance”
  • Currently, this is the last entry in the series, with no signs of a follow-up

“Resistance 3” takes place four years after the events of “Resistance 2,” with humanity still struggling against an advanced, mysterious alien race known as the Chimera. Humanity has all but lost the war against the race, with small pockets of human resistance scattered across the United States, with the Chimera orchestrating a total genocide of the human race, due to the existence of the Hall vaccine that can cure the Chimeran infection. Players assume control of Joseph Capelli, a former member of the Sentinels who was dishonorably discharged after being forced to kill his commanding officer, Nathan Hale. Living with his wife Susan and their young son Jack in the community of Haven, Oklahoma, Capelli is forced to flee with Russian scientist Dr. Fyoder Malikov as the Chimera begin to terraform the Earth. Separated from his family and with humanity on its last legs, Capelli, alongside Malikov, make a perilous journey across the United States to reach a Chimeran portal in New York, in one final attempt to stop the Chimeran threat for good. 

While I have my issues, the story present is still solid, and the part I could definitely argue is the strongest in the series. It has a noticeably different tone than the previous games, emphasizing a much grittier, darker story of survival in a post-invasion America, one it absolutely nails. The oppressive and bleak atmosphere already present is cranked up to 11; groups of humans live in small, cramped communities, food is scarce, both feral and militant Chimera roam free, and different groups have resorted to raiding and killing to survive. There are also some truly harrowing and gut-wrenching moments present that definitely leave an impact. That being said, the biggest drawback I have is the new protagonist. 

Neither “Resistance” protagonist is especially deep, but I drastically prefer Hale over Capelli. While he’s a decent enough character propelled by a great vocal performance, his journey to eventually reunite with his family didn’t resonate with me as much as Hale’s struggle with turning into a Chimera. While Capelli having a family does add more character, simply giving your protagonist a wife and kid is not enough to make a character truly compelling. Unfortunately, “Resistance 3” doesn’t do that much else. Either way, the story here is still of high quality, and Capelli still has his moments. 

Gameplay, meanwhile, is an avenue I can have the most minor issues with, even though that doesn’t mean I don’t have any. For starters, it makes key changes to the core design that are absolutely for the better. My biggest gripe with “Resistance 2” was the decision to remove his unlimited armory and health pack system in favor of a two-gun limit and regenerating health that basically every shooter of the time had, removing a unique quality and making the game noticeably less fun, a sentiment most seem to share. With 3, Insomniac clearly listened to player feedback, so both the full arsenal and health pack were brought back for this entry. This one change immediately makes firefights that much more varied and rewarding compared to 2, as you always have another weapon to fall back on. 

“Resistance 3” is also the most balanced of the three games. Both “Fall of Man” and 2 featured insane difficulty spikes that made the game way more frustrating than it needed to be. While 3 does have its tougher sections, the difficulty is noticeably toned down, with plenty of health packs, more balanced damage and clear weak spots indicated on boss fights. Granted, these changes do make the game a bit too easy at times, but it nevertheless provides plenty of enjoyment with its core shooting and return of essential mechanics. There are also plenty of memorable setpieces, including a standoff on a Steam train against bandits, navigating through mines fighting a massive Chimera, and a tense nighttime section with invisible sniper enemies. 

However, the main gameplay is also where the central aspect that drives me crazy rears its head, and I do not understand why Insomniac went this route. As mentioned earlier, while Capelli isn’t a character I’m particularly invested in, he’s propelled by a great vocal performance from Robin Atkin Downes, who gives him a good presence and personality. However, while Capelli has plenty of dialogue in cutscenes, he is completely mute during gameplay, which drives me up the wall. Capelli’s sudden lack of vocal cords results in characters speaking in a needlessly detailed, unnatural manner that makes it seem like they’re talking to themselves rather than to the main character. Characters will often rattle on about their problems and various happenings in the world, but Capelli’s refusal to speak makes these “conversations” awkward and unnatural. It’s made worse by the fact that, quite frankly, characters never know when to shut up, constantly filling your comms with clunky chatter and telling Capelli to do the same thing over and over again, never letting you breathe. The moments where Capelli is left by himself to deal with threats are such a breath of fresh air. It may seem like an innocent thing to some, but it’s an aspect I absolutely can’t stand. 

Other criticisms

  • Enemies, much like the first game, feel way too bullet spongey 
  • It’s unclear sometimes where you need to go 
  • More frustrating enemies can appear more frequently 

And some more highlights: 

  • A weapon leveling system was added, giving weapons more features and upgrades the more you use them
  • Memorable environments 
  • Neatly designed levels

Of all the games in this trilogy, “Resistance 3” is the one I find the hardest to pin down. It brings back core mechanics, has an intriguing enough story and its more post-apocalyptic, survival theme makes for an interesting playthrough. But my feelings for the main character, and my absolute hatred for the in-game dialogue keep me from ranking this above “Resistance 2” despite my setbacks with that game. But at the end of the day, I can’t deny I had fun with the third entry, and it serves as a good send-off for one of the more underappreciated series in the PlayStation’s catalog. Whether Sony decides to acknowledge it or continue to leave it to collect dust, these games are still quality titles that ended in a solid fashion.