Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oh Insomniac!



I'm a fan of Insomniac Games. Good games, good people. A legacy of Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, and Resistance is proof enough. Now this whole OverStrike to Fuse thing is playing with my heartstrings.

Let me backtrack a bit before going into Fuse for a minute. My faith in Insomniac was shaken not too long ago. This happened in the time between Resistance 2 and Resistance 3. I'm not part of the general complaint, I actually liked Resistance 2! Yes I, really, really enjoyed the entire thing. Single-player was fun, multiplayer modes were a blast. Some of the best co-op moments all generation are from incidents when all eight players were fighting for their lives from incoming Chimera invasions. It was so good the Collector's Edition is sitting in my room, keeping my Chimera figure protected. No, it was Resistance 3 that did me in.

Resistance 3 had a lot of little things that ruined the game for me. As a whole, the game is fine. The game is well paced, has good set pieces, and controls well. What really soured the experience were a few things, the main characters, the story, and the multiplayer.

There is a reason why Master Chief is so iconic. Players can get behind the visor, in a space marine sort of way. When Halo 2 put gamers in control of the Covenant and didn't allow them to, "Finish the Fight." they were a little pissed. Keeping a main character is important to a series, it gives it a sort of identity. Mario, Uncharted, Legend of Zelda, and even Tomb Raider show this. So Resistance 3 ditching Hale for Capelli loses a little something in the process.

Hale was not much to talk about in the first Resistance, because he didn't talk. Not a peep. What made Hale the icon of the series was 2, where now he could talk and interact with the rest of the story. Bringing this in gave him a personality, even though it was a typical one. The problem for Capelli is he's torn between the Hale of Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2. In cutscenes, Capelli talks and shows a semblance of characterization. He's off to stop the Chimera for the final time to make a life for his wife and son. At certain moments, his speeches are touching, something I never noticed for Hale. What causes the issue is when the player is in control, Capelli can't utter a word. One second he's talking to Malikov, the next moment he's a silent as a crypt. Jarring. Even little bits of dialogue would have helped make this point a non issue.

There are bigger fish to fry I'm afraid. The alternate take on history where instead of World War 2 an alien invasion happened. I like it. Resistance: Fall of Man didn't do much in the story department, but it was chock full of mysteries. Where did the Chimera come from? Who were the Cloven? Why is America's own Special Forces trying to track and rescue Hale? All of this gets amped up in Resistance 2! Everyone is Hawaii disappears, all things functioning normally, they're just gone. Strange lights in the sky that are neither human nor chimeran. A mysterious third alien race is involved somehow. Black hole portals. Pure Chimera. Grey Tech. The world was exciting! Insomniac created a world far more interesting then I've seen in video games. They just had to have Resistance 3 ruin it.

Everything I listed in the previous paragraph, 95% of it does not matter. Nothing. All the ties and unanswered question left alone. The greatest shame of Resistance 3 is throwing away its own history. Is the current story good? It's functional. That is a good word for it. I get the feeling Insomniac was done with the series and wrapped everything up as anti-climactically as possible. Rules they established were thrown out, characters are killed and replaced with others who fill the same exact role. It's a mess, a damn mess.

The worst part of the launch of Resistance 3 was the multiplayer. Where to begin, it was a buggy. Glitches and exploits were abound! When patches were brought in to fix the games myriad of problems, Insomniac half-heartedly patched things up. Now there were far less glitches ruining the games, but exploits were fairly unchanged. Since the game had a typical "level up" feature like Call of Duty, low level players were paired against high level players. This was intrinsically unfair that someone with a Carbine could defeat a team of rocket shooting, turret dropping, ammo regenerating cheaters. Then the entire game became like that. No real strategy or variation.

As with everything else in Resistance 3, a little more effort would have solved this. A better match making service would solve 50% of the problems. Now new players wouldn't be driven into the ground until becoming a paste like consistency when first starting, and high level players would be challenged against one another. Balancing the perks and weapons would work wonders, although that would take longer to implement correctly. Finally, fix spawn point camping. There is already a system that spawns players away from hotspots, but it was awful and didn't work all the time.

The saddest part was there are a few ideas in the multiplayers that were cool. While the levels were not numerous, they did change according to game type. The Train Yard is Deathmatch had a different look than the Train Yard in Chain Reaction. That was nice and would have been better implemented as random into each map as random for every game mode. Certain levels were tied to specific match types as well, so there were maps only Deathmatch had access too. The obvious draw back was nobody played the game modes out of Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. Much less for the people who downloaded the DLC game types. A lot of the new skins appeared though, so they did buy the DLC, just didn't play anything new.

I wouldn't want my downer attitude to sway anyone to not trying the Resistance series. Seriously, it's one of my favorite this generation. Aside from Resistance: Burning Skies, because I don't own a Vita,  I've played the entire series. It's just, I was burned. I was burned bad. Now that Insomniac is going multi-platform, good for them, this whole Fuse thing is giving off bad vibes. I want to like it, but after seeing Resistance 3, I'm not sure if Insomniac is up for it.