Insomniac Games held a community event in Hollywood earlier today to give fans a chance to see and play this year’s upcoming entries in the Resistance and Ratchet and Clank franchises. If Insomniac’s base of eager and excited fans was the star of the show, then the runner-up was definitely Resistance 3. (Sorry, Ratchet. Please don’t hit us with that wrench of yours.) Insomniac not only announced that the PlayStation-exclusive shooter will be playable in 3D and offer Move support, but the developer also showed off a new level never seen before outside of a few quick snippets from an earlier trailer.
The demo Insomniac revealed at today’s community event was a lesson in knowing when to take the pacing down a notch or two. Creative director Marcus Smith admitted that when the team was working on the first game in the series, it tended to design each level with too much of a narrow focus, making it easy to lose sight of how best to pace out the entire game. The result, according to Smith, was a string of levels where designers would fall into the trap of dialing up the action a bit too high without enough regard for what came next. (See: any Michael Bay movie.) Well, lesson learned. Smith is now confident that his team has figured out the tricky business of making sure the game moves with a nice ebb and flow--the high action you’d expect from a good first-person shooter, as well as those moments of relative downtime that tell a story with quiet scenery.
So what exactly happens during this chapter of the game? Well, it begins on a boat. It also ends on a boat. There’s generally a whole lot of boat going on here. Anyways, protagonist Joseph Capelli has sought refuge in the quiet town of Haven, Oklahoma, but the Chimeran invaders have other plans for him. He’s forced to flee the makeshift home he tried to make and head east on a road trip of sorts, and that journey will bring him across all manner of locales in a ravaged, post-invasion America. The slice of America in this particular demo is the fictional town of Wrightsburg, Missouri. Capelli and a companion of his hop on board a boat and shove off onto what appears to be an eerie, foggy little river tucked away in the woods. But soon enough, it’s revealed that this is no river--it’s a flooded town.
Wrightsburg is looking rather worse for the wear. There’s a very creepy atmosphere hanging over the city, from little things like a football stadium scoreboard peeking out of the flooded waters to more obvious bits of scenery like the corpse of a kraken sea monster you travel through like some decomposing and awful-smelling tunnel. The whole thing feels like a cross between the foggy eeriness of Silent Hill and the tense boat rides of Apocalypse Now. These quiet early moments of the demo do a terrific job of painting a picture of some horrible catastrophe that’s just gone down that leaves you wondering what’s around the corner.
To answer that question, the Chimera show up. At first, it’s just a pack of grims. Your boat is floating past a flooded motel, and just as you think the coast is clear, the camera violently abandons you to zoom in on one of the motel room doors--from which a Chimera grim has just emerged with a rather angry look on its face. Then, more and more of them pop out, climbing to the roof of the motel before leaping across the water onto your boat. Here begins the first real shootout of this level, which in typical Resistance fashion, can be played out with a number of different exotic guns packing equally exotic alternate fires. Notable design elements from the combat include the use of health packs and the return of the weapon-select wheel. Also notable--and awesome--is the way a Chimera’s head explodes when you land a headshot with your magnum.
After dealing with these grims, things are looking better for Capelli and his friend, the boat captain. But they soon have to deal with yet more grims popping out from the remains of downtown Wrightsburg--or at least the parts of it that are still above water--and they also have to deal with airborne shock drones nimbly buzzing around in the air eager to fire electricity at them. As things ramp up, you have to run around the boat more frantically dealing with Chimeran enemies coming at you from every which way. This being an on-rails sequence, you need not concern yourself with piloting the boat. You’re just trying to keep the deck clear of enemies trying to come aboard. Like alien pirates.
Then, once again, things look safe. The two survivors deal with the onslaught of enemies and make it out onto the wide-open waters of the Mississippi River. Sure, there are capsized shipping boats betraying the looming dangers of this environment, but at least they’ve freed themselves from the eeriness of Wrightsburg and all of its motel-dwelling Chimera. Then the footsteps start, and off in the foggy distance there it is: a Chimera goliath. Fans of the series will recognize that name and might even experience sympathy neck pains due to the main character’s sudden need to look up at the skyscraper-sized enemy towering above him. And as the giant splashes of river water rocket up with each footstep, you realize this thing is headed right your way.
But this isn’t a goliath you’re able to take down any time soon. It’s still early in the game, and you’ve got a basic selection of weaponry, a small boat, and an elderly friend driving it. You’re forced to hide out under a bridge, but as the goliath approaches, it’s clear this might not be the best hiding spot. The roadway above you crumbles in a shower of asphalt, rebar, steel, and whatever else it is that bridges are made of on the Mississippi. (Bridge glue? We’re not sure.) And as the rubble falls, you’re knocked out of the boat and the screen goes dark. Demo over.
We’ll admit that we were rather impressed with Insomniac’s showing of Resistance 3 today. This boat demo was a nice change of pace from the level shown to the press last month, a frenetic action sequence set in the windswept streets of Haven, Oklahoma, as the Chimera begin their assault on Capelli’s newfound home. Of course, a big indicator of the game’s quality will be how it feels in your hands, and unfortunately, this was a strictly hands-off demo. But it certainly succeeded in getting us excited to try it out for ourselves. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to do that soon. In the meantime, you can expect to see Resistance 3 out this September.