Resistance 2: Bigger, Bolder and Mostly Better


Tiger Media Network

In 2006, coinciding with the release of Sony’s PlayStation 3 console, developer Insomniac Games came out with “Resistance: Fall of Man,” a first-person shooter mixing World War II and Sci-Fi elements, complete with a gritty story about humanity’s struggles against a ruthless alien force. In spite of the PS3’s rocky launch and lackluster starting lineup, many agreed that “Fall of Man” was an excellent title for the system, both as a launch title and as a standalone game, in spite of some rougher edges. 

Plus, considering that “Resistance: Fall of Man” became one of the best-selling games on the console, a sequel was very much guaranteed. And that’s precisely what we got just two years later with “Resistance 2.” With Insomniac at the helm once again, “Resistance 2” proved to be another hit both critically and commercially. However, many of the first games didn’t exactly jive with some of the changes made. 

Overall, as someone who thoroughly enjoyed the first game, I certainly think there were some decisions that were not the right move. But at the same time, in almost every aspect, “Resistance 2” is a massive improvement over its already great predecessor, continuing the interesting story while giving much more depth to its main character. Plus, the graphics, environments and scale have gotten a major overall, featuring some truly breathtaking set pieces and intense sequences. Much like its predecessor, it’s certainly nothing mind-blowing compared to other shooters of the time, but it nevertheless provides an excellent FPS experience that makes some rather unnecessary changes. 

Release and additional info

  • Released in November of 2008 for the PlayStation 3
  • Once again developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony
  • Featured a unique advertising campaign involving “Project Abraham,” an Alternative Reality game meant to appear as a real-life top-secret military project 
  • Including a multiplayer mode and a co-op game that allows up to eight players, although servers shut down in 2014. 
  • Followed by “Resistance 3” in 2011, currently the final game in the franchise. 

“Resistance 2” takes place in 1953 and focuses on humanity’s desperate struggle against the Chimera, a mysterious and deadly alien species, who, following their successful takeover of Europe in “Fall of Man,” have begun a full-scale invasion of the United States. Players are once again placed in the shoes of now Lt. Nathan Hale, a US Army Ranger who manages to repel the Chimeran forces in Britain while also being infected by the Chimeran virus himself. Shortly after, Hale is taken into custody by SRPA, a secret government organization, and becomes the commanding officer of the “Sentinels,” a group of elite soldiers who have also been infected with the Chimeran virus, possessing enhanced strength, speed and healing abilities as a result. 

The Sentinels keep the virus in check with regular doses of inhibitors provided by Russian scientist Dr. Fyoder Malikov. Hale, alongside his squadmates Joseph Capeli, Ben Warner and Aaron Hawthorne, work to repel the Chimera from the East and West Coasts, all while dealing with the threat of Daedalus, a US soldier turned powerful Chimeran leader with psychokinetic abilities. Hale and his team face overwhelming odds as they try to defend their country and their people, all while Hale himself struggles to keep his humanity intact, as the Chimeran infection slowly begins to take over.

While the first game didn’t have a massively deep or thought-provoking story, it managed to be interesting and riveting throughout. “Resistance 2,” on the other hand, is a much deeper and even darker story that really shows how desperate humanity has become in its struggle against a much more advanced enemy. It certainly isn’t going to win any awards or have one-hour video essays deciphering all of its hidden symbolism and lore, but it’s nevertheless captivating. Hale is given much more depth and personality compared to “Fall of Man,” and while he’s still your typical gruff soldier, he feels like much more of a real character this time around. His infection with the Chimeran virus is also a much greater plot point, in place of it being a simple footnote like in “Fall of Man.” We get to watch as Hale slowly begins to succumb to the virus, and it’s genuinely heartbreaking to see his transformation. Nathan Hale’s character is, overall, a substantial improvement over the first game, and I do think he’s a criminally underrated character in the PlayStation lineup. 

The other characters in the story, meanwhile, range from interesting and likable to completely forgettable. The latter honor, unfortunately, goes to Daedelus, who, in spite of a decent backstory, menacing presence and great vocal performance, is a truly bland and forgettable antagonist, complimented by an incredibly underwhelming boss fight. It is a shame, because his mutation into a Chimera and his relation to the Sentinels does have potential, but really isn’t delved into outside of a few intel documents. On the other hand, Hale’s squad mates and members of the SRPA are nothing majorly deep but are still thoroughly enjoyable. 

Hawthorne, Warner, and Capeli all have the hallmarks of your stereotypical soldiers but are nevertheless likable and fun companions. There are some moments where the game tries to delve deeper into the characters, such as Warner mentioning his family during a mission in Twin Falls, but it’s quickly swept under the rug and never brought up again. Really, the only fellow Sentinel who gets any real depth is Capeli, due to his hostile relationship with Hale over his growing infection, and his growing conflict over having to euthanize his commanding officer. Dr. Malikov was another character I definitely enjoyed. A mission where you escape from a Chimeran facility alongside him, not to mention his almost father-like concern for Hale’s declining health, made him a very likable and stand-out character. All in all, characters outside of Hale are a bit of a mixed bag, but do their job well enough. 

The other objective improvements in “Resistance 2” compared to the first game are in atmosphere, environments and scale. “Resistance: Fall of Man” honestly has one of my favorite atmospheres of any first-person shooter, featuring a desolate and grim setting that really shows how far humanity has fallen during the Chimeran invasion. “Resistance 2” takes this atmosphere and expands on it drastically, showing firsthand just how screwed humanity is when coming up against the Chimera. The image of a fleet of massive Chimeran ships overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge is a genuinely haunting image that shows humankind’s insurmountable odds. 

The environments are also vastly improved across the board, featuring more diverse locales compared to the first game, from canyons, destroyed towns, coasts and of course, Chimeran ships and facilities. Twins Fall, Idaho, is a particular standout, featuring destroyed homes that are completely filled with Chimeran flesh pods, which have a chance of spawning new Chimeran enemies. While it certainly isn’t as prevalent in this more traditional sci-fi military game, the contrast between World War II and advanced alien technology is still somewhat present in “Resistance 2,” mainly in discoverable telegraphs, old-timey radios and the aesthetics of certain tones. The scale is also massively increased, showing some really impressive boss battles against massive Chimera that are nothing short of breathtaking. Really, if there’s one thing you can commend the campaign for, it’s how grandiose and straight-up devastating it can be. 

Finally, we get into the gameplay, and this is where the unnecessary changes occur. “Resistance: Fall of Man” was far from a groundbreaking shooter when it launched, especially when you compare it to other games that came out around that time. Despite this, it proved to be a fun shooter with unique mechanics that helped it stand out. “Resistance 2” mostly keeps this intact, with fun and satisfying shooting mechanics and an extra level of polish to the animations and the feel of guns. There are also a few improvements dotted here and there; The Chimeran foot soldier, the most common enemy in the game, is much less bullet spongey compared to the original, making them much less of a pain to deal with. The bullet sponginess is reserved for the much bigger enemies who, while still annoying to deal with, are still better than having every generic alien soldier take up to two clips of ammunition. Hale also figured out how to sprint, making getting around much quicker and easier.

However, the biggest and worst changes come to the health system, and especially how the weapons system works. The first game featured a traditional health bar, and while Hale could regenerate one full bar of health, health packs were required in order to heal fully. “Resistance 2” removes the health bar entirely, replacing it with a bog standard regenerating health system much like “Call of Duty” or “Halo,” where staying out of the line of fire would slowly regenerate your health. But really, the worst change is how weapons work. The most fun aspect of “Fall of Man” is that Hale had access to all of the weapons in the game at once, allowing for experimentation and variety in the core gunplay and making running out of ammo less of an issue. In “Resistance 2”, this was, again, completely removed, and now the player can only carry two guns at a time. These changes were most likely done to make the game more realistic, but it took both the arcadey aspects that made the first “Resistance” so fun, and one of its most unique aspects. If the lead designer for the game comes out and says these decisions were a mistake, that should tell you all you need to know. 

A few other criticisms: 

  • The difficulty spikes in some sections are absolutely ridiculous.
  • The friendly AI can get in the way (Although they are usually pretty competent). 
  • The inability to play the game’s multiplayer nowadays (Once again, Sony, come on). 
  • For some reason, crouch and sprint are bound to the same button, which is much more annoying than you may think

Overall, though, I thoroughly enjoyed “Resistance 2”. Some of the changes made to the gameplay were completely unnecessary and took away major aspects of the first game. At the same time, I can’t deny that in virtually every other area, “Resistance 2” is a major improvement over what came before. Its main character is much more fleshed out, its world and atmosphere are phenomenal, and despite the aforementioned changes, the core gunplay is still as fun and satisfying as it was in “Fall of Man”. It’s a great follow-up that more than earns its place among the best PS3 games right next to its predecessor, and it’s a genuine shame Sony has all but forgotten about this series. 

Nick McCoy is a senior at Fort Hays State University, studying digital media and journalism. An avid gamer and music listener, he reviews video games and songs and hosts the radio show “The Understanding of Nick” for KFHS.