Let’s not sugar coat this: I didn’t care for Resistance: Fall of Man or its sequel, Resistance 2. My play time with those games left me feeling underwhelmed and disappointed by the notion that Insomniac had made first-person shooters that felt so generic. The first game is this by the numbers shooter that didn’t know which shooter it wanted to imitate, and the sequel was a mind-numbing corridor crawl very much aware of the shooter it wanted to imitate: Call of Duty. So it was surprising that not only did Resistance 3 pique my interest when I saw footage of it, but I also had a great time when I was playing it.

So the question has to be, what changed? What was fixed? Did the franchise started doing original things or something? Not necessarily. While it had some new spins, fundamentally speaking, every idea in the game originated in the first Resistance. What made the game effective, though, was that Insomniac was able to capitalize on the few advantages Resistance already had as a series. Those previous games had a respectable variety of weapons and more enemy variety than other popular first-person shooters, and Insomniac capitalized on this by choosing to marry a set of creative weapons with the enemies to create a first-person shooter that was exciting.

In Resistance 3, it all starts with the arsenal at your disposal. Insomniac went back to some of the rules of the first Resistance by choosing to bring back the weapon wheel, allowing you access to all of your weapons as opposed to limiting you to two of them. Each of these weapons acquire upgrades over time based on usage, and also have an alt fire ability as well.

Alt fires and upgrades for all weapons allowed each weapon to not only have a unique purpose, but its own sense of flair. The standard shotgun could evolve into a weapon that shot incendiary ammo, as well as alt fire concussive shots that were essentially incendiary grenades. The series standard Bullseye was a rapid fire, submachine gun that could be upgraded into shooting exploding bullets, which could then be upgraded to a triple tag that shot an explosive round on one enemy while tagging two nearby enemies.

Those were just the standard fare as Resistance 3 also livened it up with weapons that weren’t just mainstays in any other game where you shoot dudes in the face. The Mutator, for instance, was a chemical weapon that fired a biological agent that causes bulbous cysts to appear on an enemy and mutated said enemy into a combustible land mine. The weapon could then be upgraded to a point where it not only infects the enemies with this mutation, but also makes them attack their comrades, creating a theater of mutated explosives with the player as the grand puppet master.

These weapons would be wasted, however, if they were just powerful weapons that relied too heavily on just being unique. Because what would that change? Sure, the weapons themselves would be creative, but the general gameplay would still be “shooting dudes in the face.” So instead, Insomniac’s game chooses to combine the benefits of these weapons with the enemies you are dealing with.

In Resistance 3, these weapons become tools that the player needs to know how to use efficiently, going back to the days of how players used power ups in Mega Man. As an example, let’s focus on the zombie-esque enemies in Resistance 3 that I respected so much, I forgot their names. In Resistance 3, your solution to this encounter is to use explosives as opposed to settling for a typical shooting gallery approach.

When dealing with these zombie hordes, the player's best bet is to use the magnum because its bullets are actually a charged fuse that can be detonated after piercing the enemy’s skull. Instead of picking them off piece by piece, you end up using your 6 magnum bullets to take out entire hordes of these enemies. This same magnum can be upgraded to gain the ability overkill, which allows the weapon to fire a special bullet that spawns multiple charged fuses. It turns a standard shooter encounter into one filled with explosions on top of explosions on top of explosions, because your shooting needs more explosions.

There is a genuine synergy with the enemies you face and the weapons you use that most shooters generally don’t have. Even old school shooters that had weapon wheels tended to focus on just letting you go buck wild, but Resistance 3? It’s far too restrained with its ammo, an aspect that ends up benefiting the entire experience. Combining the scarce ammunition with the return of health packs gives Resistance 3’s action the kind of tension one would normally associate with a survival horror game. It not only makes the chimera menacing without being cheap and resorting to respawning enemies, but forces the player to use all of the tools at their disposal.

This way the player is forced to learn the game's systems so he or she can adapt to any given situation. The game doesn't fall into the pit some of those more open, gameplay-centric experiences do where the player can break the game by playing it “the wrong way.” Instead, the player either learns to use their arsenal or they flat out stop playing the game. It shows confidence to focus on one thing and do it well enough to build a game around it.

That’s what ends up making Resistance 3 one of those rare games that can convert a non-believer. Some of you may dismiss what it does as just rewinding the clock on first-person shooter design, but I think that’s just reductionist theory at work. If it was just that, Resistance 3 would have been a simple run 'n gun game, but it’s more than just mindless running and gunning. Instead, it’s a game that shows the rest of the genre that the weapons are tools of destruction for the player, and there are effective ways to build varied scenarios around just the tools, focusing more on the relationship between weapon and foe, and creating an exciting game in what I found to be a banal franchise.

If you’ve become tired of how modern first-person shooters do business and have access to a PlayStation 3, I suggest you hunt down a copy of Resistance 3. Lock eyes with the Chimera, pull the trigger, and enjoy the slaughter. 

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