Joe wasn’t too happy to see Malikov, and dismissed his plan as crazy before heading back out to assist in Haven’s defense. Of course, it’s a given that he’s going to head to New York eventually, and after the events covered in our first hands-on preview (in which we were handed a Marksman sniper/assault-hybrid rifle and took on squads of grasshopper-like Longlegs Chimera, as well as a massive, armored Brawler), Capelli’s wife Susan – saying she was tired of watching their son die from whatever illness it is he has – pleaded with him to go. Capelli reluctantly agreed, taking his son’s mitten with him as a memento. That will probably be important later.
Once Capelli had caught up with Malikov, the scientist suggested they head for the water, since the Chimera were monitoring the roads. Naturally, he had a tugboat ready to go on the banks of the Mississippi, and the game segued neatly into the on-rails riversequence we saw in April.
Like much of the rest of the game, this was surprisingly fun, with lots of interesting (and mostly ruined) things to see, and no shortage of eerily lanky Grims to blast apart as they leapt onto our boat. Even without the incendiary shotgun rounds we had at our disposal the first time we played (which, as it turns out, come with leveling up the Rossmore, which this level added to our growing arsenal), it was still enormously satisfying to blow the limbs off these more zombielike Chimera at close range.
Eventually, a pair of approaching Goliaths sunk the boat, at which point we were introduced to the highlight of the preview build: the city of St. Louis. Or, more specifically, a trainyard at the outskirts of St. Louis. With Malikov injured, we had a chance to explore the place in an effort to find a way into a nearby coal tower, and that meant picking our way through dozens of wrecked train cars (plenty of which housed rotting human and animal corpses), and shooting through a swarm of scorpion-looking Leapers, whose cockroach-like agility and numbers made them a pain in the ass in spite of their clear vulnerability to shotgun rounds.
After figuring out how to open the way for Dr. Malikov, we followed the old man into an elevator and up into the coal tower, narrowly avoiding an encounter with a gigantic, feral Widowmaker (essentially an organic version of the Goliath, glimpsed several times during Sony’s E3 press conference), and soon saw a chopper-like VTOL roar past with smoke pouring out of its fuselage. Eager for a quicker way to get to New York, Malikov asked Capelli to go after the VTOL while he recuperated.
This meant grabbing a nearby carabiner and using it to slide down a nearby zipline toward a disused warehouse. After picking up some radio chatter from the VTOL’s occupants – apparently another group of resistance fighters – we crept into the dark spaces underneath the place with a flashlight, and soon found a discarded Atomizer just laying on the ground. The first truly new gun we found in Resistance 3, the Atomizer is easily our favorite. Billed as a Chimeran “riot weapon,” its primary fire is a stream of enemy-vaporizing lightning, and its secondary fire launches a portable gravity well that sucks up every nearby enemy and squishes them into paste. Both of these became invaluable through the rest of the warehouse, which was infested with cocooned Grims just waiting to hatch and swarm all over us.
It was also pretty useful once we were clear of the warehouse, at which point we picked our way through a crumbling apartment building filled, among other things, with Leapers. (There was also a child’s heartbreaking letter to Santa left out for us to find, but that wasn’t crawling up the walls and spitting goo in our faces, so it seemed less relevant.)
Eventually, we found our way to the VTOL crew, who were holed up across the street from a crumbling building, which happened to be filled with squads of angry Chimera. Luckily, we arrived on the scene at a perfect sniping point above the enemies. Even more luckily, we’d picked up a Deadeye sniper rifle along the way, which gave us a chance to play hero and pick off the attackers at long range. Eventually, some Longlegs appeared on the scene and made the high ground unsafe, which – along with some tantalizing health packs lying around on the other side – forced us to zipline over to the building and engage them at close quarters.
After we’d put down a few waves of Chimera (courtesy of several of their dropships), we joined up with the VTOL crew. The heat wasn’t off yet, and so we fell back to defend a pub near the VTOL’s crash site. Luckily, the place was stocked with weapons and health packs, which ensured that fending off the crushing, constant hordes of Hybrids and huge, Atomizer-toting Ravagers that swarmed toward the place felt exciting, instead of impossibly difficult.
When the all-clear was finally given, following the VTOL crew into their escape tunnels turned out to not be quite as safe as we’d imagined. Eventually, the path led into what looked like a large government building – at which point more squads of Hybrids, and a wall-smashing Brawler, burst onto the scene and started hurling us against the walls. It was only once we’d shot off each of the Brawler’s armor-like heatsinks – which helpfully lit up red so that we’d know where to shoot – and put the beast down that we were finally led away to meet with the group’s leader, a man called Charlie Tent.
Sadly, we didn’t get to actually meet Charlie, as the preview build ended just before his scheduled appearance. Still, after playing through the game’s first few hours, we came away more optimistic about Resistance 3 than before; after all, it’s easy to make a short, self-contained demo interesting, but our unfettered access to the early parts of the game kept us pretty entertained. There’s a good variety of enemies, environments and gameplay styles; the self-improving weapons and steady introduction of new stuff added a constant sense of discovery; and shooting through squads of Chimera in gruesome ways is a bigger guilty pleasure than it’s ever been.
It’s already a big improvement over the last two games, and so long as the remaining hours are as good as the ones we’ve played through, Resistance 3 looks poised to be something great. Whether that’ll be enough to make it stand out against this fall’s coming glut of high-profile shooters is anyone’s guess, but at this point it stands a pretty good chance.
Jul 14, 2011