Joystiq's Real Time Review: Resistance 2 [Day Two]

So, here we are again for the second day of our Real Time Review of Resistance 2. I hope you all got plenty of sleep and are jonesing for more off-the-cuff observations on the PS3 shooter. Again, if you have any questions or anything you'd like to see addressed, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments.

Read up if you missed yesterday's action and I'll start updating at the end of the post in a few.

[Update: Ask and you shall receive Chase: Watch me play Resistance 2 LIVE, if, for some reason, you want to.]

Original Post:
Unlike big league sites that have been enjoying their copies of Resistance 2 for weeks now, your friends at Joystiq just received theirs this morning. (OK, so we forgot to ask for one until Friday. So sue us.) But, we shall not be daunted or deterred. As we continue our experiments with reviewing, we're trying something unprecedented (for us, at least): A real-time review.

Here's how it'll work: Yours truly is about to fire up Resistance 2 and as soon as I've completed the first stage, I'll be back with my thoughts. I'll keep updating until I've solved the game tape, simple as that. Then, after I've finished the campaign, I'll give multiplayer a whirl, and let you know what I think.

It won't be a marathon, so expect updates over the next few days. There will be a button at the top of Joystiq, so finding me again won't be tough. This also won't be a blow-by-blow of what happens to me in the game, so don't worry about spoilers. Expect only a gut reaction to what I play as I play it, just like a real review, but without all the deep thought and contemplation. And if you have questions as we go, let me know in comments and I'll try to answer them. I can't wait to get started, and I hope you'll stick around with me.

See also: Metareview -- Resistance 2

Opening thoughts:

I've decided to play on "Normal" rather than "Casual" or "Hardcore." I figure the baseline experience is optimal. As far as my previous history, you should know that I played only the first couple of stages of the first Resistance. I thought it was OK, if not great. As a newbie, a well-animated intro cinematic helps to catch me up without bogging me down. I'm looking forward to getting started.

Update 1 (12:25 p.m)

Resistance 2 makes a great first impression. It wastes little (read: no) time pitting you against one of the much-touted giant enemies. After the last few games I played took a while to ramp up, it's nice to have a game that throws you right into combat. If I had to pick a close comparison from a basic battle standpoint, it would be to Halo, especially with the two-weapon limit. Also, I should qualify that while I did play the last Resistance, my memories of it are sketchy at best. So, with that said, know that the homing assault rifle feels a lot better than I remember it, especially because it gives a good impression of where your target is.

Update 2 (1:05 p.m.)

About an hour in, and I figure it's time, at the behest of SecretAgentHam, to talk about graphics. It's not the most detailed environment, but it seems to serve the action well. The textures could be a bit more impressive and I know it's a cliche to complain about this in most modern action games, but it is kind of brown, at least at the outset. (Also, some of the explosions are straight yucky). What is great is the scope of the game's visuals, which can make the Chimera seem absolutely, oppressively insurmountable.

As far as the section I just played, it was guided and claustrophobic, but in a good way. I've found that I'm enjoying the more accurate (if more conventional) Carbine weapon over the Bullseye. Tried the sniper rifle, too. While effective, you hear your heartbeat when you use it, which also happens when you're close to death. Seems confusing to me. Also, I know this isn't a horror game, but a bit in that level gave me quite a scare. I hope that doesn't make me a baby.

It's a small thing, but I have to complain about the noise when you pick up a weapon. Obnoxious.

Update 3 (1:25 p.m.)

"Hey Larry, why are you stacking up those sandbags all throughout the base in such unusual patterns?"

"Well, Phil, what if a first-person shooter breaks out here? What else is the hero protaginist going to use as cover?"

"I guess you've got a point, Larry, but they're really inconveniently placed. I don't know, a first person shooter here? That's kind of longshot."

"Is it, Phil? Is it really?"

Update 4 (1:45 p.m.)

So I just finished another boss encounter, and so far I find them really impressive. For one, that sense of scale I talked about before is really in play, making each boss feel really deadly. Also, the fights are fair, less reliant on gimmicks than your actual skill. The one I just completed really felt like a set piece, and brought the stage to a satisfying conclusion.

Update 5 (2:10 p.m.)

Now in a forest area that's really lovely to look at. I feel bad about my comments about the environment before, because this is one of the few video game forests that didn't make it look like Johnny Appleseed had a Levelord complex.

Update 6 (2:45 p.m.)

OK, forget about "everything is brown" complaints. The forest level terminated in a lumber yard sort of thing that was just as impressive as the woods before it.

I also want to give some credit to how well large scale firefights play out. The Chimera are smart and know when to use cover, but they've got more tricks than that. They're not afraid to bum rush you while you're trying to pick them off, forcing you to constantly adapt to the situation. It's a skill that comes in handy when some of the more deadly enemies start getting tossed at you with no warning. They also don't psychically no where you're hiding, allowing you to sneak up on some of the larger bad guys. Almost without fail, having a strategy is rewarded with victory and being a dummy just gets you a big slice of death.

Update 7 (3:00 p.m.)

One of the things that continues to impress is how often the gameplay is mixed up. Just as you get comfortable with an intimate tunnel crawl, it opens up into a large scale battle, then into something a bit stealthier and from there an escape sequence and so on.

I know that this might deviate from the basic game I'm playing, it's three hours in and I'm starting to pine for another motivating factor other than just seeing what the next level is. A little character advancement or narrative would go a long way.

Update 8 (3:30 p.m.)

Well, I think I'm going to call it a day. I've been plugging away for 3.5 hours now, and I'm starting to feel a bit burnt-out. Games aren't really made to be played for that span of time, so I want to take a little breather and see how I feel. I'll probably pick it up tomorrow around noonish. Hopefully, I'll see you then.

Update 9 (DAY TWO, 12 p.m.)

I was right, a day of rest is just what the doctor ordered. Four hours in and the levels continue to evolve with new challenges and fights that help things feel really fresh. Last boss was pretty tough until I started using my brain and realized there wasn't a gimmick I just needed not to suck. Web cam putting on unexpected pressure, but can't really blame that on Insomniac.

Update 10 (1 p.m.)

That last level featured a really great boss that hunted me through the entire level, making the creative way I finally offed him/she/it doubly satisfying. The level also introduced a minigun with moveable cover. No review insight there, I just wanted to mention it because it's really cool.

As much as I'm enjoying the actual action, I don't feel like a have a great understanding of why I'm doing what I'm doing from moment to moment. Would I understand better if I was paying closer attention? Yup. Would I pay closer attention if it was worth closer attention? You can see the vicious circle here.

Update 11 (5:45 p.m.)

Wow, I'm totally sorry about that, voting took way longer than I thought. Just finished another level and fought one of the gigantic Chimera and it was frigging incredible, epic even. That said, I think I'm about done with reviewing the single player. I feel like it's probably drawing to a close and I think you and I both have a good idea of what to expect. It's a great, exciting, innovative first-person shooter and one that you should absolutely play. I haven't even touched the multiplayer, though I might update with that tomorrow, but I can tell you that if you have any interest in the genre, you should absolutely pick it up.

If I have one complaint, it's with the shoddy narrative, which I'd love to see beefed up in later games. Even so, what's here is well worth your cash.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.