Resistance: Fall of Man, the most impressive launch title for the PlayStation 3 early on, proved two things to gamers: developer Insomniac Games could deliver a far more intense and visceral experience than the cartoony Ratchet & Clank and Spyro the Dragon games, and the PS3 had some serious horsepower under its hood, which could make it a dream platform for 3-D shooter fans.
Fast-forward to 2008, where about 100 Insomniac Games developers at the Burbank, California-based studio are busy readying Resistance 2, which is said to be bigger and badder than its nearly two-year-old predecessor. Like the original, the game still takes place in an alternate history (1951 to be exact) and once again, instead of humans fighting each other in post-World War II battles, we're still trying to resist an invasion by the nasty Chimera race, now appearing on U.S. soil. As with the first game, Resistance 2 is played from a first-person perspective.
Crispy Gamer checked out the game at a recent media event in Los Angeles, hosted by Sony Computer Entertainment America, as a kind of sneak peak to its 2008 E3 lineup. While the single-player game wasn't shown or discussed, representatives from Insomniac Games -- including CEO and president Ted Price -- let us get our hands dirty with a multiplayer mode called Skirmish that proved to be a lot of fun.
When it comes to its multiplayer support, Resistance 2 can handle up to 60 online players in a number of head-to-head and cooperative game modes (the original game supported up to 40 players). The problem with so many people playing on the same map at the same time, though, explains an Insomniac rep, is that players tend to congregate in the same area, which is something they wanted to address. So in the team-based Skirmish mode, four to six gamers join a squad, and each squad has a specific objective to complete, such as advancing to a control point, regrouping with other squads, attacking enemies, defending a base, and so on. An enemy squad, however, has the exact opposite objective as your team, therefore your mission might be to find and destroy a communications post, while the rival squad's task is to protect them at all costs.
We jumped into a game connected remotely to nearly 30 testers at Insomniac in Burbank and nearly 30 testers at Sony in Foster City. Only one map was playable, called ?Scotia,? based on a heavily forested Northern California town, where the Chimera were gaining ground. Our first task was to clear out the enemy who took over a lumber mill; enemies appeared as red (both on the mini-map and when in full view) and you can either try to accomplish your goal with sheer force and working somewhat independently or you might need to communicate to coordinate efforts with your teammates and stealthily approach the tasks at hand.
Unlike other team-based games like Team Fortress, each person in your squad doesn't have a specific skill per se, though your loadout choices prior to the mission will likely determine how you'll fight to win. For example, if you choose a sharpshooter weapon you become a sniper of sorts, compared to selecting rifles and shotguns, for a more intimate gun battle. Insomniac showed four loadout options in this build. Those who played Resistance: Fall of Man online might recall some of the science fiction-like weapons that are back again. These returning favorites include: Bullseye (shoot a tag and then all subsequent bullets follow the tag, even when facing another way) and the Auger, a powerful gun that can see and shoot through walls. New guns, which weren't in the build we played, include Marksman, a semi-automatic long range weapon, and the Mini-Gun, a Gatling-like gun with a shield.
While running through the forest in this heated 60-player match (?massive battles, intimate feel? is the developer's goal with Scotia), we noticed we were accumulating points while taking down enemies or accomplishing goals, which can then be used for RPG-like improvements, such as health, accuracy and speed boosts, and so forth. In fact, some enemies, depending on how many points they had and whether or not they were your rival team, displayed a "3x" or "4x" above their head, giving you an extra incentive to take down these good players, and ones tied to your objective. The level seemed quite big, and because players are so spread out when completing their specific task, novice players won't find themselves respawning every two minutes because they were smoked, but you do need to keep an eye on the mini-map to survey your surroundings for potential threats.
Additional multiplayer modes and details on the single-player campaign will be announced "soon," we were told, but this Skirmish mode and Scotia map proved that PS3 gamers with a yen for massive multiplayer battles have something to look forward to later this year.
This preview was based on a hands-on demo of the multiplayer game at a recent publisher event.