I was never a fan of the way shooters evolved post the popularity of Call of Duty. Regenerating health, levels that play like corridors and the obsession with realism never really translated into fun for me. Even outside of the gameplay, the narratives never really grabbed me (outside of that infamous moment in COD 4). I can see why people enjoyed those games, but they really weren’t for me. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered Resistance (Insomniac Games), an old-school shooter that I don’t think gets enough praise. It’s a fantastic game that needs more attention.
In genealogical terms, Resistance is very close to Doom and Quake in how it’s designed and how it plays. One big benefit of this is a total inversion of the modern shooter convention of only allowing the player to hold two or three guns at any given time. I’ve never understood this. Sure it’s “realistic”, but all it does is cut down on the games depth. I like to have options in combat, so I’ve always preferred the way games like Resistance do things. Of course having two dozen guns stuffed down your trousers isn’t much good if their all the same, but fortunately Resistance’s arsenal is about as varied as they come. The guns go all the way from your basic Carbine to weapons like the Auger which can generate powerful shields and has devastating offensive capabilities. Variety gives the player greater agency and makes the combat more diverse and a lot deeper. Modern shooters lost sight of this but Resistance absolutely makes the most of its weaponry. On a related note, Insomniac have a track record of fun, unique weapons. Check out Ratchet and Clank if you don’t believe me.
Like I said, Fall of Man plays a lot like the FPS of the 90’s. That means a faster pace, health packs and interesting level design. Rather than slowly working your way down a corridor full of generic terrorists, Nazis and the like, you get to blast your way through the legions of the terrifying Chimera, a race of evil mutants. First a word on health packs and why I will almost always take them over more modern regenerating health systems. It comes back to depth. Having health as something you have to strategically move around the battlefield to get adds to the tension and creates more interesting decisions. Regenerating health systems do almost the opposite. When injured all you can do is fall back, there is no element of risk vs. reward. It also breaks the flow by forcing a retreat and making you crouch behind something waiting for your health to come back.
The enemies are a lot more interesting than your standard modern shooter fare. I tired of shooting at terrorists a long time ago. The Chimera make for much more interesting adversaries. From the basic Hybrid, to the zombie like Grim, to the deadly intelligence of the Angel, every enemy requires different tactics and keep things fresh for the entirety of the single player campaign. This a classic old school shooter concept, gradually adding new enemies so that the combat is always presenting the player with new options. This is yet another quality a lot of modern shooters have lost sight of.
Somewhat surprisingly the game has a very strong story. The characters are all fairly interesting and likable, but the elements of mystery are what really carry it. What exactly the Chimera are is a central theme, and bits of the truth are revealed with excellent pacing. There are also several big questions surrounding the protagonist Nathan Hale and an event near the start of the game. The narrative does more than enough to keep you engaged, and is perhaps the one aspect where Resistance really goes beyond its influences, which had extremely minimalistic storytelling.
So we have a great story and great gameplay,but many of my fondest memories of the game are of the multiplayer. It was mind blowing at the time, with forty players being able to play at the same time on console, which ran beautifully. It was often chaotic (especially with one shot kills turned on), but it was the right kind of chaos, especially given the variety of weapons carried over from the single player. It may have been somewhat mindless but the fun factor more than compensated for it.
Fall of Man is a brilliant game that I fear will never down as a classic. The PlayStation exclusivity and the grey brown colour pallet (which turned a lot of people off) undeniably worked against it, which is a great shame. If you need a real shooter that knows exactly what it wants to be, you should be playing this game. If 2016’s Doom sparked something within you, go back and play Resistance. Shooter fans get on this.