While little will challenge Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in this year’s showdown for top multiplayer shooter, Sony and Insomniac Games are making a good go of it with Resistance 3, the PlayStation 3-exclusive FPS that caps off a story that began with the console’s launch.
The pre-Early Access portion of the game’s multiplayer beta test is currently in full swing, with lobbies populated by industry-folk, members of the media and contest winners. Traffic isn’t nearly what it will be once those with codes from SOCOM 4 pre-orders get online on August 4, but I got enough of a taste yesterday to advance to level 6 in the game’s progression system and report back with some first impressions.
At launch, the beta includes two maps–“Seaside” in Glamorgan, Wales, and “Trainyard” in Bogota, Columbia–and two gameplay modes, Team Deathmatch and Chain Reaction (an objective-based game in which two teams work to capture a series of five points in a specific order). There’s a level cap of 20, and much of the later progression rewards are cut off as a result, but that’s sort of the point. Insomniac is testing out how the game runs in a live setting–not perfectly, at this point–and our getting to play is a byproduct of that.
Before you even get to play, you’ll have to go through a fairly lengthy install process. The initial download is roughly 1.5 GB, and that content must then be installed in a process that eats up a few more minutes. Booting up the beta leads you to another load screen, with a 1.4 GB content update to download that must also then be installed. All in, expect to spend at least a half-hour or more getting everything set before you can play.
The big challenge right now is finding a room with enough people to play in, as the pre-Early Access turnout is relatively light. Don’t be picky with your choice of game modes; just choose “Any” and eventually you’ll get to play every combination. Each match runs into the next, so you’ll get to keep playing as long as you remain in the room–unless you experience a crash, which sometimes happens after a match when the scoreboard pops up.
The matches are running at a pretty steady pace, though the lag is definitely more pronounced than it would be with a fully completed game. I didn’t come across any mid-match crashes while I played, but things definitely slowed to an unplayable crawl at one or two points. There’s also a very distracting motion blur effect that becomes much more of a problem when you’re sprinting.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Resistance 3 is a good time in multiplayer. The scale of things has been cut down since the last game, so you’re never looking at more than 16 people, friends and foes together, running around a given map. The more intimate showdowns are definitely preferred, as they put a much greater emphasis on functioning as part of a team. Chain Reaction really highlights this; since you’re capturing five points in a certain order; there’s a constant push/pull as you send some of your team forward to the next point while others remain behind with the previous one to prevent the opposing team from reversing the capture tide.
The weapons feel good and chunky, as they should, and their secondary abilities that make the series’ armory so unique should inspire people to mess around and try new things. All of the Resistance 3 firearms have a real sense of heft to them. Fans of the Call of Duty series will no doubt appreciate it, though the enemies in this game soak up quite a bit more damage.
You start out with just one combat class unlocked, your basic machine gun-toting grunt with an ammo drop and a decoy special ability (creates a phantom version of your character right next to you). Each subsequent level up up to on the way to level four unlocks another class, giving you access to the Bullseye (an SMG that can fire secondary tracer shots for your bullets to home in on), shotgun and sniper rifle. The first custom class slot unlocks at level five, allowing you to tweak your soldier’s primary weapon, grenade and special abilities. Barring any unforeseen crashes, getting to this point shouldn’t take most people more than an hour or two.
That’s the Resistance 3 beta for you. There are some rough edges, as you should expect from a pre-release version of a game, but the fundamentals are there and they deliver a good time. I look forward to gunning all of you down come August 4, when the proper Early Access period begins.