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Resistance 2
Score: 90%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Insomniac Games
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2; 2 - 8 (Online Co-op), 2 - 60 (Competitive)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Resistance 2 picks up two years after the first game with Nathan playing the part of a science experiment in a medical facility hidden in San Francisco Bay. Nathan's virus continues to spread and there's no chance of a cure. That is the least of Nathan's problems -- the Chimera have finally made their big push on the United States.

Everything about Resistance 2 is bigger and better than the first game. Locations are meticulously detailed to the point that it almost seems like the art team took two passes on each - one before and one after the Chimeran Invasion. As US-centric as this sounds, seeing Europe leveled and infected is one thing, but seeing notable American landmarks in shambles has a pretty powerful weight to it. There's more variety in the types of enemies you'll face, which fixes one of the first game's bigger issues. You'll still see one type of enemy more times than you care to count, but at least there's more variety.

The sound design is equally top-notch and adds an edge that the first game wasn't able to muster. I wouldn't go so far as to bestow the "survival horror" label on the game, but the sound design will definitely make you jump a few times.


Gameplay:
Resistance 2 is heavy on the action and light on the story. What little story that follows what is given up top continues on a very linear line with little deviation. The story mainly serves as a way to shepherd you around the country, which comes as a disappointment considering how well planned the first game's narrative was. Characters are paper thin and, while they aren't pulled right from the "Big Book of Stock Characters," they're pretty damn close. Some of the backstory is filled in through radio announcements and intelligence reports scattered around each level. Of the two, the radio announcements are the only things that manage to covey a sense of connection. The Intel reports are good for backstory, though they are found so far off the beaten path that you probably won't get the entire story unless you're really up for an egg hunt.

Even without an epic story, Resistance 2 is still a blast to play. Levels are linear, but each is oozing with expert level design. Much like the first game, Resistance 2 feels almost like an FPS version of Ratchet & Clank. Although there's a lack of overall narrative, each level tells a story that is both engaging and well done. Much of this has to do with how well-paced each level is; everything just makes sense. It's a real testament to the level of craft Insomniac always manages to infuse in its games. As much fun as squaring off against packs of Chimera are, the best moments come during boss battles. By now you've probably already seen the giant Godzilla-like Chimera from the E3 demo, but that's only the beginning.

The single-player game is complimented by various online modes. The usual suspects like Capture the Flag and Deathmatch are joined by Skirmish. Here, teams are divvied up into squads and given objectives to complete. Objectives come in often and help keep the mode from degenerating into yet another variation of Deathmatch.

The real star of the online modes is the 8-player co-op. Players choose from one of three classes and must work together to complete a series of tasks while facing off against hordes of Chimera. Each class has a specific duty that is vital to the group dynamic. For instance, there are no health or ammo drops in any of the maps, making the Medic and Spec Op the only source (respectively) for those essential items. Co-op is incredibly dynamic; even if you are playing the same map for the sixth time, it will feel completely different from the last five times because of the different objectives and enemy spawns.

Just to sweeten the co-op mode, players can earn points during online games that can be used to purchase upgrades like weapons and gear. The new items don't come cheap, and while it may tick off players who want everything "here and now," there's a great sense of satisfaction that comes with finally unlocking a cool gun.


Difficulty:
Resistance 2 is by no means an easy game. Every victory is a hard-fought one, which only makes completing a level that much better. You can auto-heal by resting for a few seconds, though with the number of Chimera the game throws at you at any one time, there usually isn't a whole lot of time to stop and take a breather. The game really forces you to think your way through encounters, which does translate into a little trial-and-error gameplay. However, this is where that whole "craft" thing comes into play. Levels are challenging, but the pacing is fair. There are a few "gimme" battles to get your spirits up, but it will still smack you down once your confidence gets too high.

If there are any complaints about Resistance 2's difficulty, it's the checkpoints. There are enough that you won't have to retrace hours of gameplay after death. Still, not all of the checkpoints are in the most ideal places, so you will have to retread some areas multiple times. It's fun, but after the third or fourth time, it gets tiring.


Game Mechanics:
When it comes to weapons, Resistance 2 continues what Resistance started and brings an arsenal of common, yet not-so-common weapons to the battle. There are a total of 12 weapons in the game, and though you can only carry two at a time, there are more than enough opportunities to play with all of them. Some of the weapons from the first game, like the Carbine and Bullseye, return along with new weapons, like the Marksman and a .44 Magnum. All of the old weapons work like they always have, though one or two have been upgraded. For example, the Auger has a thermal-cam attached that allows you to see through walls (as opposed to just blindly firing through them). Meanwhile, the Marksman is an automatic machine gun with limited sniping ability and the Magnum fires off deadly shots that can double as remote explosives.

The overall balance feels great. Weapons earned earlier in the game are just as useful as ones found later in the game and there are several times in the game where you'll find yourself falling back on your machine gun not because you have to, but because it is the best weapon for the job.

Without a doubt, Resistance 2 is as good as shooters get. There are a few rough patches, mainly with the story, but once you get into the game, it becomes something of a non-issue. Resistance was the game everyone who bought a PS3 at launch needed to buy, and the same applies for the sequel.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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