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Resistance 3 preview: Hurry down doomsday

Justin McElroy

I'm just a little embarrassed to admit that my first thought upon seeing the preview disc for Resistance 3 show up on my doorstep was this: "Who can I con into playing this for me?"

It's not that I hated the previous games in the series, they're fine for what they are, but my curiosity about what's next for the franchise was frankly dwarfed by my desire to pass work off onto other people. I didn't have any luck, and what a lucky break that was for me, because Resistance 3 -- at least for the three hours I spent with it -- is spectacular.

I know, I'm still not sure I believe it myself.

Gallery: Resistance 3 (E3 2011) | 10 Photos

It's a few years after the events of Resistance 2, during which ... OK, considering I'm trying to convince you that Resistance 3 is really good, I'm not going to sabotage myself at the jump by retracing Resistance's prior lunacy. It's 1957. Bad aliens called the Chimera invaded. They want to kill us and steal Earth. It's a bad scene. The end.

As Joseph Capelli, a former soldier and current person who lives on Earth, you set out to stop them with your scientist buddy, the wizened Dr. Malikov. The two of you embark on a cross-country journey to close the wormhole that the predators have opened up to bring terraformers to our basically helpless planet.

If you're familiar at all with the series, you already know what works. Namely, the guns. There are plenty of recycled weapons here but when you're talking about a machine gun with homing bullets and a gun that can see and shoot through walls, that's not a bad thing. Some of them have even been revamped, like the Marksman assault rifle which now deploys mini-turrets as a secondary firing mode.

Honestly, the biggest challenge I ran across in the demo was when I would intentionally use the wrong weapon for a given situation because I was enjoying killing Chimera with it too much. And sometimes I was just trying to improve its abilities by using it more frequently (a nice feature many single-player campaigns lack).

Insomniac is making the Resistance game that justifies the existence of Resistance games.

But this isn't the important stuff. This has worked before. What sold me on Resistance 3 was what it did right that the franchise has never seemed to nail in the past.

There are some considerable, smart changes to the core action. For starters, you can now carry all the guns instead of just two, which, in a game that's all about weapon variety, makes a heck of a lot of sense.

In a likely more controversial move, gone is the auto-replenishing health, replaced by health packs scattered none too liberally throughout the environment. Some may quibble, but I for one really appreciated feeling like one fragile human banded together with other humans in a nigh-hopeless battle for our future rather than ... well, Master Chief.

The idea of futility and insurmountable odds dovetails with a far more lively world, full of pockets of humans just trying to survive the onslaught. In the game's opening moments, I explored one of these rudimentary communities that practically hummed with the life that filled every corner. In one corner, a woman told me about the coat she's knitting my ailing son. In another, a father tries to coax a child to eat the canned food he's prepared. These early scenes do a wonderful job of grounding the action, providing a concrete answer when you start to wonder what exactly it is you're fighting for in the middle of prolonged action set pieces.

In fact, the only thought you'll likely have room for during those sequences is "I can't believe what I'm seeing." At one point, the boat I traveled on was almost demolished when the massive bridge above it collapsed. In another scene, a massive energy vortex created a swirling dust cloud that forced me to push right into the enemy's waiting arms. Later, I ran across a spider-like robot so massive that I could only stay still and pray it didn't see me. It's the most terrifying image I had seen in a game this year ... that is until a few moments later when I looked around and realized there were two of them.

This is not a safe game. Resistance 3 is swinging for the fences, pulling no punches and all those other cliches that boil down to "Insomniac is making the Resistance game that justifies the existence of Resistance games."

When the Resistance 3 preview code showed up, I tried everything I could think of to get rid of it. If the review code lands on that same doorstep, anyone looking to take it from me had better be ready for a fight.

I know I am.

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