Hands On With the Resistance 3 Multiplayer Beta

The Resistance series has never had it easy. The original title launched alongside the PS3 back in 2006, and remained largely overlooked in the furor surrounding Sony’s $600 asking price for their new console. Resistance 2 both reviewed and sold relatively well, but developer Insomniac Games recognized that the game was a failure for hardcore fans. It also hasn’t help that in the past the series has released against stiff competition in the shooter realm. When R2 released in 2008, it faced off against not only Gears of War 2 but also Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3.

This fall looks just as challenging, with behemoths like Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, but Resistance 3 has the advantage of releasing well ahead of both of those. It’s also the only game set in an alternate-history universe where World War II never happened. Instead, humanity has been fighting off an invading alien force since the 1940’s, albeit unsuccessfully. I spent some time with the closed beta, and while some aspects of the game feel very Online Shooter 2011, Resistance 3 has enough of its own flavor and wrinkles to set itself apart from the rest of the shooter crowd. Mainly, that’s the armory – but more on that later.

Even though I’ve only dabbled briefly in the Resistance series, I felt right at home as soon as I picked up my controller. If you’ve played a multiplayer FPS in the last few years the feature set should be immediately familiar. There’s the now-standard perk and player progression system, kill-streak bonuses, enemy tagging, and multiple equipment load outs. You even earn the same amount of XP for an assist or kill as you do with other shooters.

But differences started to appear once I had a Bullseye assault rifle in hand. On the surface, it’s just another machine gun, but activating its secondary fire mode fires a homing projectile at whatever I might have in my alien crosshairs. What does this do? It causes primary-fire rounds to track whoever was unfortunate enough to be tagged with the homing bullet – even around corners. The sniper rifle’s alt-fire is a high-powered energy round that can kill in one shot. Another gun generates a shield around the player. Of course, there are human weapons too, but they lack the flair to make them very memorable.

Of the two maps currently available, my favorite is Seaside. The green countryside evoked many memories of the classic Call of Duty 4 map, Overgrown — there’s even a dry river running through the map and a covered bridge crossing said riverbed. As far as design goes, there’s a good mix of bombed-out buildings to break up the lines of sight of snipers, and plenty of cover to hide behind during close-quarters firefights. In the distance, alien ships hover and strike buildings beyond where the player can travel.

I’m impressed by subtle detail, and while Resistance 3 isn’t the first to do it, the effect of my eyes having to adjust to a dark church or barn after I entered was really damned cool. It only takes a second for the screen to go from nearly black to slightly illuminated as my virtual pupils dilated to let light through, but it actually made me look forward to scavenging for ammo or enemies. This also meant I couldn’t counter-snipe across the map, because I couldn’t see well inside the darkened window where my quarry rested. The rounds I played predominantly took place on the Seaside map and were team deathmatch exclusively, but there’s also another map set in a train yard, available for both objective-based and deathmatch play.

As of this writing, there have been some serious connection issues with the beta. Matchmaking is nonexistent and the only way to play is by joining or creating private matches. The temporary workaround is to head over to myresistance.net, post your PSN ID on the “private match setup” thread, and wait for a game invite. Hopefully these problems will be cleared up during the beta period, because this could be the surprise shooter of the season — when I could get it to work I had a killer time.

Thanks to everyone who entered our Twitter contest to win Resistance 3 beta codes. We gave away 10 access codes this week, and we hope you all manage to find some matches to enjoy. Keep us posted.