Resistance 3: Sony’s Underappreciated Gem

editorials by Sean Halliday

The first-person shooter is a ridiculously overcrowded market. They tend to be far too similar. Go here, shoot that, save the world. It’s pretty standard fare. The nature of the market has resulted in many people becoming jaded. Craving new ideas or fresh directions, we’ve still managed to overlook genuinely great genre pieces.

 Third Time’s A Charm

Enter Resistance 3, the last entry into a franchise that was, on the whole, rather hit or miss. But its swansong was good. Really good.

Released in the busy period of Fall 2011, Resistance 3 received little no to marketing. At the time, the Resistance franchise was in a state of decline. Resistance 1 was greeted with fairly positive reviews and praise; the follow-up, however, was viewed as a mediocre title that signaled the stagnation of the franchise.

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Resistance 3 may be a direct sequel, but it felt more akin to a reboot. The story of average Joe saving the world from aliens may not be all that fresh, but its foundation for greatness. As a shooter, it played brilliantly, with tight responsive controls entwined with an old-school approach to game design. Health kits in favor of regeneration, the ability to carry every gun in the game with no restrictions. Classic traits made anew.

 

Old School, New Class

Continuing with the old-school approach were the weapons. Each firearm came with a basic and alternative fire. Each firing method provided a sense of empowerment and tactical ingenuity. From devastating beams of energy to vomit inducing alien flame balls, Resistance 3’s arsenal was truly a playground.

Level design was smart, creative and robust in intricate ways. The art direction allowed Insomniac to play with the ideas of an alternative Earth. Playful adjustments to 1950’s American formed into stunning imagery laced with a lick of science-fiction.  Each stage had a distinct atmosphere, crafting a true sense of going on a journey.

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The slow boat trip through ruined a lakeside town displayed how masterful Insomniac can be. In a similar vain to Half-Life 2’s Ravenholm, Resistance 3 used sight, sound, and narrative to truly immerse the player. Slow burning silences, a creeping sense of dread, all before an attack. Never before had bobbing up and down in a boat been so thrilling.

Insomniac had no shame in their commitment to old school shooter themes. Mini-bosses and stage bosses regularly appeared throughout Resistance 3. Each encounter encapsulated what made the game such a pleasure to play. They all had a place within the narrative, justifying their appearance and threat towards the protagonist.

 

Refreshed But Doomed

It’s quite bizarre how Resistance changed from game to game. Once the poster boy of Sony’s latest hardware, Resistance never quite fleshed out the role. Some, and understandably so, would have only checked out the first in the series. Resistance 3 remains as the forgotten gem in Sony’s exclusive library. Bucking the trend of many shooters of its time, Resistance 3 was a successful blend of modern creativity and classic elements.

So why did the series end? In truth, the brand never reached the dizzy heights Sony expected.  Sales were fair, but hardly anything that would command the respect of the mainstream audiences. Insomniac believed the series had reached its logical conclusion. Speaking to VGA24/7 back in 2012, Insomniac CEO Ted Price simply said: “We won’t be making any more Resistances,”.

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The series would continue, at least briefly, on the PS Vita. In a curious cycle, Resistance (once the PS3’s poster boy) was fronting yet another new piece of Sony hardware. Resistance: Burning Skies was released in 2012 to a mixed reception. Its role on the Vita was to prove Sony’s handheld could be the home to console grade shooters. Burning Skies marked the death of the series.

 

Reflecting In Mourning

Revisiting Resistance 3 in 2017 is a strange experience. Knowing how the series ended conjures up mixed emotions. Frustration creeps in, wishing the game sold better. It deserved to, even more so given the requests of shooter fans of the time. All this creativity and craftsmanship left to gather dust in the long list of dead franchises.

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Last year, Doom garnered praise for its ability to fuse together old school approaches and modern flair. Resistance 3 did a very similar thing, allowing it to remain a wonderful video game experience to this day. Even with the odd rough visual and muddy texture, there’s a subtle sense of humble confidence at the heart of Resistance 3. It’s the way weapons do things you don’t see in most games. How each level supplies the player with variation. Ultaimtiley, the smirk which forms across your face is what makes Resistance 3 great.

It has nothing to do with the topic, but the Resistance did produce this work of art.

About the Author

Sean Halliday

Bargain bin version of Henry Rollins. Ex-Byker Grove cast member, former member of Ant & Dec

Article Discussion

    • I’m not sure it’ll ever happen. Burning Skies seemed to be the last nail in the coffin, which is a shame. I suppose Insomniac ending their bond with Sony made the moving on from the series a natural move. I’d take a HD remake for sure, though 2 feels a tad too MP focused for its own good in the context of re-release

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