Resistance 3 hands-on preview

Over the past few months, we’ve gotten a few good looks at Resistance 3, and what we’ve seen so far has been awfully promising. Easily the grittiest installment in the series, Resistance 3 shows us an alternate 1957 in which the alien/mutant Chimera have won, and humanity’s been pushed to the edge of extinction. It’s gloomier than previous games, with a desperate feel that’s accentuated by crumbling, abandoned towns and a soft-focus, sepia-tinted look.

Surprisingly, it’s also proving to be a lot more fun than its predecessors, especially now that we’ve now had an uninterrupted chance to play through the first few levels of its campaign. The preview disc we played took new protagonist Joseph Capelli from the (literally) underground community of Haven, Okla., to St. Louis, with plenty of diverse Chimera to blast apart along the way.

Starting with an InFamous-style, motion-comic cutscene, Resistance 3 filled us in on what happened at the end of the last game – specifically that Capelli shot previous hero Nathan Hale in the head – and what’s happened since. Hale’s blood was used to create a vaccine for the Chimera virus (which turns people into grotesque Hybrids), Capelli was dishonorably discharged from the army, and since then the world has basically gone to shit.

From there, the perspective switched to Capelli’s, and we were set loose to explore the network of tunnels and basements he and his fellow survivors now call home. It was a slow start to the game, but a good introduction to its world, and the occasional interactions with other “townsfolk” drove home the idea that Capelli was part of a close-knit community. Along the way, we found files laying around that filled us in on some interesting details about the world, most notably that there’s been some kind of a schism in the Chimera ranks since Resistance 2. Some of the more monstrous strains have gone feral, it seems, and conflicts between them and the more organized “military” Chimera have become common.

Of course, the relative calm didn’t last; immediately after an obligatory firing-range tutorial (directed mainly by a couple of kids who shouted out things they wanted to see Capelli do), the lights flickered, signaling the approach of a Chimera death squad. Following one of Capelli’s overall-clad buddies, we dashed through dark tunnels, came up through a trapdoor and crept through a diner that was – to all outward appearances – completely abandoned, where we caught shadowy glimpses of the advancing Chimera through boards nailed over the windows. For a while, it seemed like we’d be able to get the drop on them – but then one of our poor, doomed squadmates got too close to a window, giving a keen-eyed Hybrid on the other side a chance to grab him and drag him out.

The battle that came next was a little strange, with the death squad shooting at us from across a ditch that neither group crossed, at least not at first. It was, however, a great opportunity to wreak some havoc with Capelli’s starter guns. The series-standard Bullseye assault rifle – which can tag an enemy with a homing device, and then automatically direct all its bullets to said device – now features a curving red beam that shows exactly where its bullets will go. It’s also not the most effective weapon in Capelli’s arsenal, as it pumps out a high volume of relatively weak projectiles rather than going for raw destructive power, but it’s nonetheless essential for shooting from behind cover – something that’s especially important because Capelli’s health doesn’t regenerate automatically.

The backup magnum pistol was a bit more fun to play around with, seeing as it fires explosive bullets that can be detonated remotely. These also demonstrated that Resistance 3 has stepped up its game considerably, gore-wise, as we were treated to the sight of Chimeran limbs flying away from their bodies in sprays of black blood. Also fun was shooting the Hybrids’ backpack-like heatsinks, as a well-aimed hit caused them to frantically claw at their backs before exploding.

The best part about the weapons, however, is that they level up through use, making them more powerful and adding new bells and whistles to their primary and secondary functions. (Leveling up the Bullseye, for example, can imbue it with explosive rounds and the ability to tag multiple enemies at once.) It’s also worth pointing out that both weapons – as well as the other weapons we found later – could be accessed through an onscreen weapon wheel, although it’s also possible to quickly switch between the last two weapons you’ve used by tapping Triangle.

As soon as the Hybrids had been dealt with, a Stalker burst onto the scene from behind us. A four-legged walking tank with an energy shield, it was an intimidating sight, but easy to deal with – one of Capelli’s EMP grenades took down its shield, after which we tagged it with the Bullseye, ducked behind a wall and pumped clip after clip into the air until it was dead.

After the skirmish was over, we were introduced to a few more members of Capelli’s scraggly band, and sent to find a missing survivor named Tommy Dean, who hadn’t radioed in. Tommy, it turned out, was alive and well, but surrounded by Chimera, who’d taken up patrolling a nearby cornfield. Despite the relative dearth of cover, we were able to sneak up and take out each one with a quick stab or rifle-butt to the back. This didn’t stop another group from charging in after the first wave was down, but one quick toss of a shrapnel grenade later, the area where they’d been standing was a mess of blood, severed limbs and unidentifiable (but strangely intact) organs.

Long story short, Tommy then caught sight of a Terraformer, essentially a giant space laser intended to make the Oklahoman landscape friendlier to the Chimera. The order to evacuate the settlement went out, and seconds later, we were following Tommy on a pitched run from from a massive, four-legged Goliath mech. Once we’d ditched the metal beast, we ran into some Steelheads – hulking, armored versions of the Hybrids. However, killing them also meant we could add one of their Augers to our inventory, giving us the ability to shoot through walls (aiming down the Auger’s sights will helpfully silhouette any enemies on the other side of a wall in red) and lay down temporary shields.

After a fight through another horde of Chimera, we reunited with the other survivors at a covered bridge, after which Capelli was re-introduced to Dr. Malikov, a scientist from Resistance 2. Malikov’s traveled to Haven specifically to find Capelli, hoping that the ex-soldier will escort him to New York. Apparently, the events at the end of the Resistance 2 opened up a Chimeran wormhole in the Big Apple, which is slowly freezing Earth and making it more hospitable to the heat-generating Chimera.

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