Resistance is a solid first-person shooter that manages to stand out from the pack with an interesting premise and the unique arsenal of weapons it offers the player. While the concept of alien invaders and mysterious diseases is nothing new to video games or fiction, Resistance manages to do the idea justice without being hokey or wearing itself too thin.
There is a unique charm to wandering the war-torn streets of 1950s England while carrying weapons that look like they won't be created until 2050. Complementing each of these unusual peashooters is a number of equally unusual Chimaera that hope to turn your D-Day for the Brits sour. It is in the strategies that the player must form for combating each type of Chimaera and the healthy arsenal of weapons to carry out this experimentation with that Resistance really shines. No two Chimaera are the same, and while you may find that one gun may serve you well against most of them, it certainly won't hold up against all of them. Whether this occurs because the nimble Slipskulls hop around too quickly for your Hailstorm laser chain gun to track or because you ran out of ammo with your auto-targeting Reaper submachine guns you will be forced to continuously invent new methods of handling the Chimaeran horde.
Levels are often quite short, being focused on one or two objectives at the most, and avoid lengthy cutscenes. To make up for this, Insomniac Games has seen fit to provide several levels to give the campaign a healthy length that will leave you feeling as exhausted as a soldier walking off the battlfield by the end of it. Resistance does an admirable job of allowing the player to do all of the awesome stuff that other games choose to show in cinematics. When the giant spider-like Widowmakers begin bombarding your platoon with exploding acid spitballs, you will be as surprised as your AI comrades as the monsters smash their way across your defenses right in front of you.
Resistance manages to keep providing surprises for longer than you might expect the typical FPS to do. As you progress through level after level, you are continuously introduced to new weapons, locations, enemies, and vehicles. By spreading out these features across the entire campaign and allowing you to hold onto equipment you found on previous levels, Resistance strikes that crucial balance between giving the player a sense of progression and freshness.
Not everything is a victory for Resistance, though. The difficulty between levels can be inconsistent at times and certain weapons feel overly favored by the game at times while others go without ammo pickups for long stretches. When it works, Resistance provides a fair challenge curve that balances teaching the player with testing the player, all the while encouraging experimentation with the different weapons and items discovered along the way. When it doesn't work, Resistance feels generic and controlling, demanding that the player find the single, best solution to the challenge at hand rather than enjoy creating their own unique solutions with all of the tools at their disposal.
Visually Resistance looks like a gritty WW2 shooter with less of the Hollywood found in Call of Duty and more of the subtler attention to detail found in good 3rd-party titles. This is not a game that seeks to wow the player with constant explosions and pretty girls. Resistance takes its atmosphere more seriously than the premise of an alien invasion tends to warrant in video games. The skies are grey, sometimes stormy, quiet breezes move between empty houses and across wide grassy fields, and the sight of dug out trenches and metal barricades is commonplace. While many of the weapons are fantastic visually while firing, their color and flare flickers like a lone candle in the cold melancholy of war ravaged England.
The loneliness works doubly so with the audio effects. While the soundtrack is mostly a mix of eerie ambiance and the sort of dramatic tunes one expect from a war-based game, it is when the game allows the soundtrack to fade into the background that the atmosphere develops. Firefights are noisy affairs full of gunfire and exploding grenades, but its hard not to feel the emptiness of the evacuated cities of York and London as you kill off Chimaera and watch allies perish and hear one less gun sounding off and one less friendly voice following behind you.
Throughout the campaign you can complete hidden challenges by collecting hidden pieces of intel that flesh out the game's lore and performing different actions with weapons and items. Completing challenges grants skill points that serve only to unlock various hidden features in the game. These features start with simple artwork samples and work up to multiplayer skins and visual changes to the campaign levels.
Outside of the well crafted single-player campaign, Resistance also offers a Cooperative mode for those who've had their share of venturing through England alone, and an online Multiplayer mode. Multiplayer is organized similar to many PC shooters, allowing the host to establish their own house rules such as banning certain weapons, activating one-shot kills, etc. These options give Resistance's online something of an old-school charm, especially in this day and age where most online shooters provide dedicated servers with preset rules for most players while custom game modes are left to the discretion of small groups of players to experiment with.
+ An interesting story premise with solid execution
+ A wide variety of weapons and items to play with
+ Level design is often cleverly balanced and gives the player freedom to experiment and develop their own strategies while being challenged.
+ Audio and visual effects create a good atmosphere
+ Lengthy campaign
- Difficulty can be inconsistent, especially in later levels.
- Certain guns feel overly favored by the game at times while others seem forgotten and receive few ammo pickups.
- The main menu is plain and boring to look at.