Insomniac's poured love into every facet of the game's presentation; from the surprisingly minimalistic hand-drawn menu back-drops, to the slick and industrial user-interface — the game's presentation is lavish.
We'd read some criticism of the game's visuals prior to going hands-on with Resistance 3's multiplayer beta, but within moments of spawning into the game's Glamorgan, Wales map, any prior concerns we had evaporated. Insomniac's captured the picturesque Welsh scenery beautifully, contrasting rich green scenery with an overcast skyline. Even more impressive is the way Insomniac's subtly captured Resistance's sci-fi premise inside the map. Chimeran space-crafts soar overhead, while buildings are ravaged with mucus and biological overgrowth. What's impressive is how natural it all looks — the mountainous Welsh countryside looks familiar, but the subtle inclusion of drop-ships and Chimeran strongholds add a chilling undertone to the environment.
The beta's second map — Colombia — is equally attractive. Dust swirls and collects around a derelict gas station, while a series of jaunty train carriages provide much needed cover from nearby vantage points. Both maps show an appreciation for detail that Insomniac's always demonstrated in its games. The maps are distinctive and nuanced, and genuinely fun to explore. We found ourselves flanked by the enemy far too often when taking time out to observe our surroundings.
There's been a lot of talk about Insomniac's use of motion-blur in Resistance 3, and it's certainly a divisive subject. When sprinting, the game pulsates around you giving it a very distinctive and cinematic look. It's a style that takes some getting used to. Whether Insomniac will choose to pander to the naysayers or not remains to be seen, but we can't help but feel a portion of the game's presentation depends on the lavish use of motion blur.
The gameplay itself is rock-solid, if somewhat unbalanced. Familiar weapons such as the Bullseye, Marksman and Carbine are all made available through pre-set loadouts (and later Custom loadouts) a la Call Of Duty — each occupying their own set of upgrades which can be purchased with Skillpoints as you progress.
Special Upgrades allow you to unleash a timed perk, such as the Doppelganger which creates a confusing off-set image of your character, while others allow you to absorb damage and replenish your team-mate's ammo. Additional perks allow you to enhance your weapon's ammunition clip or improve aim. Insomniac's clearly anticipating that the range of options on offer will allow players to customise the game to their liking.
Unfortunately the weapon balance doesn't seem quite right yet. The Carbine for example feels terribly underpowered next to the Bullseye, while killstreak unlocks such as the energy shield feel far too powerful. Similarly, an additional perk which allows deceased players to transform into a group of leapers — small, nimble creatures — is being frustratingly overused by many players.
Outside of these balance issues though the action is rock solid. The maps are smartly designed to allow for specific conflict hot-spots, which keeps the action feeling tense and exciting. Similarly, the weapons themselves are surprisingly fun to fire, though we'd have preferred it if enemies fell quicker giving the game's armoury a greater sense of oomph.
The game's suffering from some technical issues at this stage of the beta, with lag and frame-rate dips prevalent when the image is hectic. The matchmaking itself — outside of some connection issues — is impressively fast, connecting us to games with impressive efficiency.
As with all first-person shooters there's an adjustment period, but once you adapt to the rhythm of Resistance 3's multiplayer it's surprisingly adept. There's a pace to the action that requires frequent movement. Rarely do you feel comfortable in one area because the map design allows for so many flanking positions. We had most fun moving around the maps with our team, conquering an area before quickly moving to new territory again.
Of the two gameplay modes in the beta — Team Deathmatch and Chain Reaction — we found the former more enjoyable. Chain Reaction requires you to conquer a series of ordered strongholds, but the game's communication is unreasonably poor in this mode, leaving us unsure of our objectives.
With just a small sample of Resistance 3's gear and unlocks on offer in the beta, it's hard to get a grasp for the variety the full multiplayer campaign will provide. But as a snapshot — and a test-bed — for Resistance 3's gameplay style, it's certainly very exciting. Whether it will be able to pull people away from Call Of Duty or Battlefield later in the year remains questionable, but the multiplayer certainly seems competent enough to carve out its own niche of dedicated fans.
Resistance 3 releases on September 6th [US] / September 9th [EU] exclusively on PlayStation 3.