While my dead Xbox 360 sits in my entertainment unit, and with the release date for Gears of War 2 drawing closer, I had come to accept the possibility of missing the boat on November 7. Looking for an upside to this dismal situation, I turned to PlayStation 3’s hallmark shooter, Resistance 2. With a release date just a few days prior to GOW2 (November 4), I began watching trailers and developer interviews hoping to get excited about this game, whose prequel didn’t do much for me. Resistance 2 packs tons of promise, with absolutely massive enemies, huge environments, and hordes of enemies to annihilate. Not to mention, some shiny new weapons and a rumored 15 hour, 8 player co-op mode that runs parallel to the main story line.
On Wednesday, October 29, I popped into my local video store in hopes of renting Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, which was released the day prior. To my surprise, they hadn’t received the Motorstorm sequel yet, but they did have Resistance 2 on the shelves. I quickly made a dash for the new games for sale section, where I found one lone copy of Resitance 2. Needless to say, I snatched it up and made my way to the cashier with a silly grin on my face.
Last night I had a chance to sit down with the game, where I fired up the campaign. I tried accessing the online co-op and competitive menus, at which point I was immediately signed out of PlayStation Network. After playing for about an hour and a half, while completing the first couple missions, I was feeling let down on many levels. Keep in mind, that these impressions are based on the first couple missions only. Things might change as I get into it more, but you know what they say about first impressions.
I haven’t played a game this linear since Call of Duty 3. There’s absolutely no chance of stumbling off into a dark corner, or heading back the way you came mistakenly. There’s no exploration what-so-ever. Just a clear path, where the door closes behind you as you enter a new room, and obstacles are clearly placed in the way of any potential wrong direction.
There are cinematic moments woven into the gameplay sequences which are an absolute failure. A number of times, my focal point was moved abrutply as I was walking, which made me feel like I was fighting with my controller. Many games have done this sort of thing – where they want to make sure you look in a certain direction to witness an event. Gears of War prompts you to hit the “Y” button. Resistance 2 basically steals your right thumbstick and shifts your view while leaving you with partial control. This actually happened in a scene where I was wrong through a field to cover while taking fire. The last thing I was thinking about, was stopping to check out the view. Bad timing. There are other “moments” that are usually cued by a sound effect and some intense music. The first time I found my self in this situation, I was aware that something was about to go down, but by the time I figured out where it was happening, all that was left was a ripple in the water. I figured I’d just load up my last checkpoint and make sure I was looking in the right direction, but no such option exists.
Worst of all, there are actually a couple points in the first level where you’ll just die if you don’t do exactly what you’re supposed to at the exact moment you’re supposed to do it. I replayed one scenario multiple times to test this theory. And sure enough, even without cause, I would just die if I didn’t follow my allied AI teammate.
<sarcasm> Oh, I Didn’t See That Coming! </sarcasm>
It’s one thing to always no where you’re going, it’s another to always know what’s about to happen. There have been many spots that are meant to catch you off guard and give you a little scare, but no such luck. Instead, I walked into every situation knowing full well that a huge boss was going to come crashing through that massive wall that has no windows or doors, or debris in front of it. The stockpile of rocket launchers in the room may have also tipped me off.
I felt the first Resistance was behind in the times, in that it didn’t sport a cover system, or destrucrible objects and environments, any kind of squad tactics when you’re fighting alongside allied soldiers, etc. Surprisingly enough, Resistance 2 hasn’t adopted any of these aspects of modern shooters either. I found myself dying a lot during the first level as I couldn’t find much in the way of reliable cover. That’s when I realized that I could park my ass behind a wooden skid that was propped up against a thin metal railing and it would protect me from all incoming enemy fire, including rockets and grenades. The odd wooden crate will break apart, but most objects are indestructible. I shot the hell out of an old radio, and it continued to play the same annoying song as it bounced around the desk it was on.
Trying to Stay Optimistic
When I finished the second level, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “I should have spent this past hour and a half playing Far Cry 2 or Dead Space.” It’s hard to stay optimistic when the fundamental aspects of the game are what’s bringing the experience down for me. At least I can be rest assured that Gears of War 2 will live up to, and likely exceed my expectations. It’s just a shame that the PS3’s top shooter franchise is nowhere near in comparison.