Los Angeles (CA) – The year is 1952, which for a great many people at E3 2006 this morning was a century ago. A global war would have just recently ended had it not been for the interplanetary war that has already begun. It’s a good thing the world was spared the ravages and brutality of Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito, and Stalin; the bad news is, in the world of Insomniac’s upcoming squadron battle game for PlayStation 3, Resistance: Fall of Man (a little foreshadowing of the ending, there), a bunch of scorpion and spider guys wiped out most of the planet on their behalf, with the exception thus far of the last great hope of mankind, Manchester.
A media badge holder gets an early glimpse into an alternative 1952 in Insomniac’s Resistance: Fall of Man.
In this game, you are Nathaniel Hale, described in the game’s preliminary literature as a descendant of the great Civil War hero, Nathan Hale. (Apparently there’s more than one bend in this game’s alternative history.) Your mission is to work with your squadron to take back what’s left of civilization from the armored scorpion guys. Armored scorpion guys are pretty popular in gaming these days; they also appear in CryTek’s Crysis for Windows Vista, as well as the upcoming PS3 swordfighting title Genji, which was also described as a trip through history. (“It’s okay, Mom! I’m studying history!”)
One of the key visual cues that history went a different direction is the jump jet, with tilting rotors whose concept was borrowed from a modern Harrier, but whose execution looks more like a late ’40s transport plane. Another clue is the town of Manchester itself, which looks wasted without the aid of disgruntled soccer fans. The scenery is mostly washed out and desaturated – for a moment, you might wonder why color was supposed to be a key feature of the PS3. As Michael Stout, one of Resistance‘s lead designers, explains, “One of the artistic decisions we made early on in the project was to go for a very stylized look. We’re looking to convey that 1950s retro, very desaturated [feel], and we’re trying to use color in localized [settings] to convey emotion.”
Resistance is indeed a game that plays with time, so that red police box might have you wondering for a moment.
There are cinematic cues in this game, including the obvious resemblance to Saving Private Ryan. Another Spielberg-like cue is the use of very saturated color in select spots. This was done, Stout told us, to help the game convey emotion. For instance, there in the midst of the bleak wasteland is a bright red police box. For another brief moment (you start counting the brief moments while you’re playing this game), you start to think time may have been invaded by a lord from a different genre altogether; but no, the police box is simply meant to set the scene a little off-key, like a well-played, yet sad note.
“Right now, it’s a telephone booth,” Stout conceded, “but in the end, you’ll be able to knock it over, roll it around, use it as cover, that sort of stuff.
Of all ten games Sony demonstrated yesterday for November’s PS3 platform, Resistance was most obviously the closest to completion, both in terms of concept and execution. Spectators were drawn immediately to its bleak landscape with selective use of color; and they also, we noticed, spent the most time sampling Resistance, not turning away as quickly as for other titles. Genji, by comparison, had a much more difficult time holding spectators’ attention, even with multi-colored spider guys. Unlike a swordfighting spectacle, there’s subtleties lurking behind Resistance, which is unusual for a first-person shooter where subtleties, if there are any, usually end up getting shot off.
As development of the game progresses, Stout said, not only more subtleties will be added, but also objects that respond to physics, for which interaction is meaningful. The police box, as we mentioned, becomes an efficient mobile blockade; but in future renditions, there will also be smoke, dust, excessive wind, and a less crystal-clear view of the desolation that only scorpion creatures can leave behind. “I think by the time this game ships,” Stout promised, “you’re going to see another layer of polish on this that will just make it gorgeous.”
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