Resistance 3 Beta: Hands On - August 29th 2011

The public beta has become a regular fixture in many software production cycles. Sometimes it's offered as a pre-order incentive that, intentionally or otherwise, helps to increase sales of a totally unrelated game. Crackdown, for example, benefitted immensely from the inclusion of the Halo 3 beta. Or maybe there's just nothing quite like a good old fashioned server stress test to see how borked your multiplayer is a few weeks from launch. The bottom line is, as much fun as they can be for the average consumer, public beta's are of huge benefit to developers. The broad spectrum of feedback provided by their participants is often crucial to the success of a triple A release.


Take Resistance 3. Another instalment in a huge Sony exclusive franchise that (if you include the upcoming adventure heading to PS Vita) has branched out across three of their major home and handheld console platforms. It's clearly important to Insomniac as well, who have been the guardians of this IP since 2006. It's one of the most popular series on PS3, and alongside Ratchet and Clank, Killzone, and Uncharted, has become synonymous with its lead platform.

Unfortunately, there have been missteps. Resistance 2's co-op mode was a massive let down, providing only a brief distraction before nostalgia for Resistance 1's split screen campaign set in. The competitive multiplayer has never been that great, and as accomplished as PSP spin-off Retribution may have been, the switch to third person made it feel like a fundamentally different game. It's pretty crucial then that Resistance 3 can right the wrongs of its predecessors without alienating its faithful core audience. Releasing a shiny new beta would be a good way of getting those same people excited for another retro-futuristic alien invasion.

The Seaside map supports intense, close quarter skirmishes.

And so, despite a healthy supply of rollout jitters (with matchmaking essentially unusable for a time), the Resistance 3 beta has entered into the judgemental view of the gaming populace. Post patch, it's a surprisingly smooth offering. Load times are minimal and the menu's are slick. The inclusion of fully customisable controls is a nice feature. It's a pretty rare thing, outside of PC releases, and a welcome addition to this series. If nothing else, people who bemoan the standard Dualshock triggers but haven't invested in a third party alternative will be able to change things around to suit their preferences.

There are two maps available at present. Trainyard, set in sunny Columbia, is a large map peppered with warehouses and other industrial structures. It's fairly bland, and draws inspiration from countless other battle worn locales from across the genre. The lack of any obvious bottlenecks is appreciated, and keeps the action from becoming too stale. Snipers do well on this map but rarely dominate, and the distance between spawn points eliminates any potential frustration. Seaside meanwhile is the more visually interesting environment, set within a wrecked costal town in Glamorgan, Wales.

Trainyard is a large, if slightly generic, environment.

I was disappointed when this franchise shifted away from its original UK and European setting. It made a refreshing change from the FPS standard of fighting in New York City, Shanghai, or a tropical jungle. So I'm glad other global locations are being revisited here, at least for multiplayer. Unlike Trainyard, Seaside is a colourful and highly detailed map, and suggests that this could be Insomniac's best looking game to date. That's not really saying much by industry standards, but at least they have come a long way from the smudged textures of Resistance 2. This is a tightly packed map, with lots of abandoned houses, rooftops, and alternate paths begging to be explored. Spawning is again quite considerate, and keeps you away from the close quarters action just long enough to catch your breath between deaths.

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Sony
Insomniac Games
09/09/11
PS3