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Resistance: Fall of Man
From: Sony
For: PlayStation 3
Genre: Sci-fi, Shooter
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)
Resistance: Fall of Man
Resistance: Fall of Man lifts elements and aspects from the best games out there, then adds a distinct style of its own. Nothing wrong with a little imitation as long as you bring a little something special to the party. And Resistance does, in the vernacular, "bring it."
Posted November 17, 2006
Resistance: Fall of Man lifts elements and aspects from the best games out there, then adds a distinct style of its own. Nothing wrong with a little imitation as long as you bring a little something special to the party. And Resistance does, in the vernacular, "bring it."

Set in an alternate-reality that missed the horrors of World War II (as we know it) but got something altogether worse: the Chimera, a dark wave of monsters sweeping out of Russia like a plague, blighting all of Europe proper before hopping the Channel (tunneling under it, actually) and infecting the whole of England.

The Americans are once again to the rescue in the bottom of the ninth. Only this time the human race itself is at stake.

Players take the role of Nathan Hale, a strong-silent-type U.S. grunt, working it amid the Chimera plague, the mystery of which is told in retroactive mission-stages that trace the expansion of the Chimera menace across Europe and England.

Fall of Man is epitomized by a curious, captivating mix of WW II-era tech, sensibilities and environs, a faux-historical storyline, serious British voice-overs drenched in xenophobic science fiction (think of a sort of History Channel/Half-Life/Aliens/Orson Wells mash-up) and inventive, exotic weaponry (an Insomniac Studios trademark, at this point).

The mechanics are pure, clean first-person shooter with 1940s-tech overtones. There are also some nicely-understated side- and back-story elements that are vague enough to provide wiggle-room for a sequel while leaving the geekily-attentive gamer some C-rations for thought.

Anyway, the street-by-street action in the bombed-out townships and debris-littered-streets portions of the game smells like a Call of Duty knock-off, with old standbys like a carbine, a blistering double-barreled shotgun, grenades, and an oft-invaluable sniper-rifle. As the action moves to the subterranean (or just flat-out alien) areas and Chimera strongholds, you'll start to appreciate those bizarro other-tech weapons you've absconded along the way - especially their ass-saving, alternate-fire modes. One of them sprays a flurry of energy projectiles in standard mode, while its alt-fire variant "tags" a target and draws all projectiles in the air right to the bull's eye, even around severe corners. One of the odder ones sprays some seemingly-ineffective jellied blobs that serve as semiorganic, proximity-mines (these come in handy when jaw-dropping waves of skittering, multi-legged abominations come gibbering and scrabbling down the walls and across tunnel floors toward you in their dozens). Still another nifty alt-fire mode allows players, with a little practice, to slow projectiles in mid-flight and deal death in a kind of floating-turret mode.

Perhaps the coolest two-fire effects of the whole game let players zap a free-standing, projectile-proof energy wall in midair for a short time, providing cover, or simply shoot energy bolts straight through intervening walls. There's some penetration delay, mind you, but it's supremely handy when you're holed up against innumerable hoards which must round some kind of barrier to get to you, because you can get to them first through said barrier.

And running those Chimera fools down with a Halo-Warthog-knock-off Jeep is just too much mindless fun to put into words. You might find yourself eschewing weapons altogether in such situations, just to see how much grill-damage you can inflict while driving a vehicle that essentially cannot roll, at least not with consequences of note.

The SixAxis controller puts its motion-detection feature to some wonky but handy use here, too. When a Chimera throat-ripper runs up to suddenly fill the screen and throttle you, a panicked shake of the controller will throw him off. Likewise, if you suddenly get set afire by another combatant, you can put out the flames with some spirited back-and-forth motion of the controller. Goofy, but also somewhat clever.

Multiplayer supports up to forty, count 'em forty players, and the more exotic weaponry can be put to some really interesting communal use (particularly the midair energy shields, which can be laid down by one player even as another teammate pumps out support fire). Some of the more constricted maps, combined with exotic-only weaponry, can get extremely hairy, right up there with the best first-person gaming currently available.

Six multiplayer variants round out the package, including staples like deathmatch and capture the flag, but also two "base assault" modes called Meltdown and Breach - happily familiar to Unreal Tournament fanatics - requiring players to take strategically-important map areas.

The downsides of the game include that fact that while the environments look very open-ended, they are usually rigidly linear - not that you're likely to notice your first time through the campaign game as you'll likely be far too busy gunning down the onslaught of monstrosities to notice.

Secondly, the enemy, for all its alien ferocity, simply isn't that bright. What aliens lack in tactical finesse, however, they more than makes up for in relentless wave attacks of don't-you-ever-freakin'-die tenacity.

All told, there isn't much here that you haven't seen before in so many similar titles. Still, the overall presentation is sublimely slick and done with such deadpan seriousness that the single-player experience will keep the attention of even the most jaded gamers. Then, when that is no longer enough, the ability to assume human or Chimera factions in the multiplayer gives this game an awful lot of "legs," pun partially intended.

You'd be hard pressed to ask much more from a launch title, and Resistance: Fall of Man gives the PS3's considerable visual horsepower a respectable showcase. And let's not forget Insomniac Studios' penchant for weapons that the player by-God wants to use, even if they don't actually need to.

The imminent fall of the human race, alternate history or not, never looked quite so good.
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Bang for your buck:
Great Rental 
Great New Purchase 
Great Pre-played 
Excellent Bargain-bin Buy 

Score:  4.25  (out of 5)