Monday, May 11, 2009

Video Game Review: Resistance 2

It’s been ages since I wrote my last review, for a plethora of reasons:

- I turned 30!
- Spring term started – we’re currently in week 7 of 10 – and I’m taking 3 classes (making up my incomplete in Japanese 201, a class on the literature of comics, and readings in fiction)
- I’ve gotten involved back in the philosophy club and with a local writer’s group
- We’ve been busy every weekend since the term started
- We got an AMAZING new TV.

In the time between my 30th birthday and the new term starting, I managed to beat 3 games – Resistance 2, F.E.A.R. 2, and Dead Space. (We also started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and got through 3 whole seasons. It’s hilarious!) I’ve started and finished a bunch of other things since then as well – along with the literature I’m reading for my classes (and all the Japanese I’m studying – oi vey), I finished book 4 of the Dark Tower series, and re-started two Final Fantasy games – 7 and the original (well, the remake of it that looks sort of like Final Fantasy as a Saturday morning cartoon). I also started playing Battle of Olympus and Marble Madness again on my laptop ever since getting this awesome piece of geek heaven:

To top it off, Mike and I have been giving the Gamecube some play – now that we can have all of our consoles hooked up, we’ve been taking advantage of it. I started playing Mario Kart: Double Dash again and have almost everything unlocked (damn you Rainbow Road on 150 CC!!) and Mike’s been dabbling in the Megaman Anniversay Collection as well as the my collector’s edition Zelda disc (right now he’s playing Ocarina of Time).

Add all of that to our regular coursework and spending time with our families as well as all the other things that come up on weekends – and the fact that my mom is getting a knee replacement surgery this Friday – and we have been busy kids. But I’ve been really wanting to write a review lately, so here goes nothing…

Resistance 2 completely redefined the concept of a first person shooter for me. That isn’t really saying much, frankly – I’ve only played a handful of shooters, and I don’t really think I’m qualified to say that anything redefined anything, so to speak. But having played a handful since I got my PS3, I can say with confidence that it’s like nothing else I’ve ever played.

First and foremost, the Technicolor quality really is like Dorothy stepping forth, as I said in a previous post when I was commenting on the omnipresent grey of the first Resistance game. The colors are vibrant – almost too vibrant at times when you’d rather be seeing less detail than more – and add a really vivid and occasionally almost surreal quality to the game. The scene I mentioned in a previous post is applicable for this one as well – when I was in Twin Falls, searching for my team, I came upon dozens upon dozens of pulsating cocoons. Once I met up with one member, we discovered everyone else was back where I’d started…only now, predictably, as we were heading back, all the cocoons were exploding, and Chimera that I can only describe as “fast-moving zombie-Chimera” – formal name of Grims – were attacking us on all sides. I finally got through the backyards and almost out of the last house I had to get through when Mike casually mentioned, “oh yeah, there are going to be a million outside.” I thought he was kidding, but in reality, he was only applying slight hyperbole.

Despite the fact that it took me several tries to get through that part – and dozens of other parts – and I did, at times, submit to overpowering frustration – the game was very enjoyable. It really did change the way I thought about the shooter genre. It forced me to think about what gun to use, which options on the gun I should use, where I should come out from, who I should shoot first, and just what kind of general strategy I should employ with each scenario. Again, I’m sure dozens of people have come to this realization in dozens of games, but for me, this was my first shooter that really helped me to employ an intellectual strategy.

The weapons are far more powerful this time around. The Auger – barely a mention in the last game – has been ramped up to be able to see enemies behind walls. The Bullseye is also more potent and the tagging system seems to have been improved. I love the Rossmore even more, and the best part about the pistol is the secondary fire, which is an explosion – you shoot, it sticks, you explode it. (This was especially helpful in the aforementioned scene with the Grims.) But by far the best weapon in the entire game is the Wraith, which not only shoots out 200 bullets in rapid succession, but also incorporates a shield as its secondary fire. I approve!

On top of having amazing graphics, what I felt was an incredible storyline (far better than the first one, though I think it really shows how they were coming into the story and improving on it and making it into an interactive experience more so than just “here is video game, you play A to B”), and an ending that I would consider to be “cinematic,” the Resistance 2 online experience is ridiculously addictive. Mike and I have played a lot of co-op and competitive but my favorite is the team deathmatch. It’s sort of like Unreal but less frenetic and plopped down right in the middle of some of the best moments in the game (I think so far my favorite one is in the mansion in Louisiana).

All in all, I would have to say that the Resistance series has been added to my list of favorites. The PSP game recently came out, and while I bought it already, it’s been collecting dust on the shelf. I’m also not caught up completely on the comics (read: at all) and I just found out the book came out and we didn’t notice. It may seem silly – well, actually, it would have seemed silly to me a few months ago to buy a novel based on a video game series. But this one is so good that I’m willing to give it a chance. Actually, I once read a Harry Potter novel that I thought was a leak of the seventh book but turned out to just be really long fan fiction – and I finished it even after finding out it wasn’t Rowling’s. (The writing was about the same level, so I barely noticed.) I still read the 7th book anyway. If I can waste time reading those books – and I’ve read them more than once – I think I can give a book based on Resistance a chance.

This was way longer than anticipated, and far rustier! Fear not, loyal readers – if there are any of you left – for I will reward you with more reviews in the coming days.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled homework.