Resistance 2 Multiplayer Hands-On

We tear through the multiplayer component of Insomniac's promising first-person shooter sequel.

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Sony held a media event today and let the assembled US press spend some time with a work-in-progress version of one of Resistance 2's multiplayer modes. The ensuing battle took place on the same Scotia map that was shown in the UK a few weeks ago, and it pitted us against players onsite as well as players at Insomniac's Southern California offices. Despite a fussy onsite Internet connection, which got things off to a slow start, we had an opportunity to get embroiled in some fast-paced 60-player matches.

The demo level kept the action moving along at a pretty steady clip thanks to in-game objectives that popped up as the matches progressed. The big bread-crumb trail in the multiplayer experience is the points you earn for killing enemies and for achieving the aforementioned objectives. Points can be used to unlock various bonuses, such as the mobile energy shield that we got our hands on at one point, which we could activate simply by tapping right on the D pad. The shield is purportedly one of several different power-ups you'll be able to get, although it was the only one available in the demo that we played. While having a mobile energy shield sounds cool, Insomniac has already made sure it won't be a crutch--it's just big enough that an enemy player can slide in alongside you and shoot you in the face, and it's effective only against projectiles, so headbutts and grenades are still deadly, for example.

As far as combat goes, Resistance 2 stays true to the core mechanics of the original game, so the control scheme will be familiar to veteran players. You'll have primary and secondary fire options on weapons as well as a healthy sampling of grenades to throw. When you're in motion you can try to avoid death by crouching, running, and jumping, although you'll flag yourself on the radar when you're running and shooting.

Speaking of shooting, the demo we played had four unique weapon loadouts to try, which gave us a sneak peek at some of the new firepower that you'll have at your disposal. Besides the familiar dynamic duos of the carbine and the shotgun, the auger and the bull's-eye, the sniper rifle and the shotgun, we got to try out the marksman and the minigun. The marksman is a semiautomatic battle rifle with a scope that's almost as powerful as what you might find on a sniper rifle. The minigun is just that, a power hose of bullets you can spray all over your foes. While it's slow to get going, the weapon is not to be trifled with. Better still is the minigun's secondary fire, which ups the firepower and also gives you a shield. The trade-off is that you're unable to move while using it.

The action purred along at a crazy pace because of the game's respawning system, which drops you right back in the game close to whoever killed you, helping to foster the in-game rivalries that Insomniac is hoping will be key to the whole experience. Your rivals in any multiplayer game are called out with a unique color highlight, so you can seek them out and give them the special payback love that can be delivered only by a beatdown.

As far as visuals go, the demo we played made a good first impression, but it's also not totally representative of the final game and clearly featured some placeholder art and animation. The color highlights on your foes are also being tweaked--in the demo they were bright red. Resistance 2's potential was plain for all to see, though, thanks to the large, detailed environment with a rich color palette. Most importantly, the game burned rubber in the frame-rate department. Though the game is still incomplete, R2's action is speedy and hectic, which is appreciated. The forest area, with log cabins and tons of foliage, was impressively large and offered plenty of nooks and crannies to maneuver in for maximum killing. Some areas of the map appear to be tailor-made for bottlenecks when teams are rushing to an area, but if you get creative with your energy shields and use some teamwork, the tables can be turned.

Overall we're pleased by what we played today. The game has a lot of potential, and the pace felt good. There are some minor control quirks that took us a little while to get used to, but R2 will offer the same level of customization for sensitivity that its predecessor did, so we reckon it won't be much of an issue. We're anxious to see more of the multiplayer modes and see what kind of flavors Insomniac is going to be serving up to make the game's multiplayer offering unique. Resistance 2 is slated to ship later this year for the PlayStation 3. Look for much more on the game at this year's E3 and in the coming months.

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