E3 06: Resistance: Fall of Man Hands-On

We fight back against creepy monsters in Insomniac's alternate historical first-person shooter.

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LOS ANGELES--Formerly known as I-8, Resistance: Fall of Man is a first-person shooter from Insomniac, the company responsible for the Ratchet & Clank series. The game takes place in an alternate version of 1951 England. World War II never happened, but instead you're battling against crazy monsters with coils and tubes coming out of their backs. With good looks, some cool-looking physics, and interesting weaponry, Resistance looks like it's off to a good start.

The game was shown off in playable form after the Sony press briefing leading up to the opening of E3 2006. Two sets of demos were available, showing off the multiplayer as well as some single-player portions of the game. We got into a laboratory level and faced off against a couple of different types of enemies. The chimera is a walking mutant-looking thing that has what appears to be coils sticking out of its back. It's described a "a species of unknown origin propagating a virus that converts other life forms into more chimera." The pack on its back has tubes running out of it, and if you shoot the guys just right, you might hit the tubes and cause them to burst out and hiss. The other enemy we saw was the leaper, a smaller monster that crawls at you and, you know, leaps. It sort of looks like a larger, meaner Half-Life headcrab, and you'll see it pouncing up onto the backs of unsuspecting soldiers and slicing them up real rough-like. But you certainly don't have to just stand there and let them die. In fact, the game will have "hero moments" from time to time that ask you to step up and save your allies from certain demise, which sounds like it will give you some allies to fight alongside and so on.

There are a handful of weapons and multiple grenade types in the game. Each gun has a primary and an alternate fire. There's a shotgun that can fire one or two barrels. The auger has a standard shot for a primary shot. The alternate fire for that will burrow through walls and other objects. It's similar to, say, the X-ray gun from Perfect Dark, but the key difference is that the shot slows down while it digs through objects, then speeds up again when it gets out. Another weapon is a standard machine gun, but the alternate fire is a tagging shot that fits into a "tagging and trapping" system. You can tag an object with a tagging shot, then fire regular bullets at the tag. The bullets will start swarming around the tag. When you point at an enemy and fire, the swarm will shoot over and pump the enemy full of swarming, hot lead. As far as grenades go, you've got a basic grenade as well as the hedgehog, which is a spiked ball that explodes and sends spiky shrapnel everywhere. Overall, the weapons feel pretty satisfying.

Part of that satisfaction comes from there being plenty of things to blow apart. Windows break apart realistically when shot, bottles and microscopes fall over or shatter when shot, and everything behaves with the basic level of physics that you expect from a modern first-person shooter. The visuals, which were running in 720p during the demo, (but should be running in 1080p for the game's November release), looked sharp, and like most of the other playable PS3 games Sony showed at its press conference, it ran at a smooth frame rate.

In addition to the single-player, the game will also feature co-op play for two players and split-screen support. There will also by multiplayer support for up to 32 players. Deathmatch was playable, and it behaved a lot like the single-player, but with the action of facing real humans. Though the details aren't ready to be revealed, there will be a backstory to the multiplayer. The level we saw appeared to be a shipping facility of some sort, as there were plenty of large crates and shipping containers.

With its satisfying weapons, interesting premise, and its different look, Resistance: Fall of Man is a game that we'd like to see more of.

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