Insomniac is an incredibly talented development studio, responsible for one of the PS3's best games in the form of Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, but developing the PS3's premier FPS is something else entirely. With the console war more heated than ever before certain games are held up as talismans - a reason to buy one console over another - and Sony simply hasn't had an FPS to compete with the might of Microsoft's Halo. It tried first with Killzone on the PS2 and failed, and now Resistance flies the flag for the PS3. Although the original game proved to be a stellar launch title, is the sequel the system seller FPS Sony needs?
This sequel picks up where the last game ended, with hero Nathan Hale an exhausted, almost beaten figure of a man. The alien race known as the Chimera, which focussed its assault on the UK in the first game, is this time attacking the East and West coast of the US, so it's up to you as Hale and a special Sentinel task force to stop them. Things are hard enough, but Hale is also always having to contend with the Chimeran virus that gradually takes hold of him throughout the campaign. Once again the alternate reality history means that the world in the 1950s is very different to how it actually was, with more advanced weapons and technology at your disposal.
One of the key differences to the original is the diversity of the campaign levels, with Hale being taken to all manner of locations, from run down cities to swamps and alien space ships. This has allowed Insomniac to move away from the many hues of brown that more or less defined the original. Diversity is good, but Resistance 2 struggles to tie everything together, with the campaign feeling quite disjointed. The storyline in the original failed to make too much of an impact on us, mainly due to the lead character's lack of likeability. Insomniac has worked on making Hale a more rounded character (who actually speaks this time), but even after two games we struggled to feel a connection to him as the hero.
This doesn't stop the core first-person gameplay being solid and from time to time quite exhilarating. The majority of fun stems from the weapons you'll get access to, with many old favourites returning (the homing bullet Bullseye and through wall shooting Auger being two of the best) alongside a load of excellent newcomers. Your own play style will determine which you prefer, but at times it's incredibly hard to decide which two you want to carry - sadly Insomniac has adopted a Halo-style two weapon approach. Our favourites of the newcomers include the superb Marksman, a long-range battle rifle; a brilliant Magnum revolver that allows you to detonate bullets on secondary fire; and the Wraith gattling gun, complete with shield on secondary fire. Top these off with some brilliant grenades and you've got an arsenal every FPS would be jealous of. Insomniac has always excelled at creating brilliant weapons and Resistance 2 is no exception.
This is all well and good, but good weapons need great levels and enemies, or they're useless. Resistance 2 has a bit of both, but isn't nearly consistent enough to take it into classic status. Enemies come thick and fast, are big and small, and generally behave intelligently - although from time to time they seem intent on killing you instead of the many team mates that stand in between. A few of of the large battles are great, but there are too many generic levels that could have come from any FPS of the last five years, and a number of cheap kill enemies that really serve no purpose other than to inject some unfair difficulty.
One new enemy, the Predator-like Chameleon, comes at you cloaked and makes the screen shake due to its heavy footsteps. This could have made for some brilliantly tense gameplay, with one or more of these beasts hunting you down, but what you get is a few moments where a handful come at you in turn, with you either shooting them dead in half a second or you being instantly killed. It's essentially a great enemy (although not exactly original), completely wasted. A water-based beast is equally strange, in that it will instantly kill you if you get near it, but you can't kill it. Even if you pump bullets into it while stood on dry land, just feet from it, it won't die.