After surviving outdoors, Capelli ducks into a railway tunnel to encounter another new foe, the Shield Drone, which protects Chimera behind an impenetrable force field. Only when it is destroyed can they be attacked.

It's an idea that's been done plenty of times before, but here it's used to highlight the flexibility of the weaponry. Forced to reprioritise targets, what's best for taking down the drone may not be best for popping one in Sniper Hybrid's bottom. With the weapon wheel at your disposal, what works best for you could be very different from the next guy.

In short, Murray claims, there's "a pretty incredible amount of choice as to how to approach the game". Which may be true within each mission, but also serves as a handy defence when the thorny issue of campaign length is raised.

Feeling short-changed by a shooter's single-player content is a regular (and frequently justified) complaint of gamers. Last year's Medal of Honor was a particularly shameful offender in this regard. Resistance 2's campaign was more substantial than many of its rivals, but where does Insomniac sit on the matter?

"Multiplayer is obviously the thing that keeps people playing for hundreds of hours," says Murray, while promising that Resistance 3's single-player offers replay value by design. "You're not going to get all the weapon upgrades on your first playthrough – there's reason to go back. And there's campaign co-op, which we've brought back from Resistance 1.

"We're definitely trying to focus and make a higher-quality game experience, and if that means it's a little shorter then we're okay with that. I don't think people are going to be dissatisfied."

Introducing the Sniper Hybrid. Imagine the passport photo.

The buzzword for multiplayer, as with the campaign, is "intimate". After the frenzied 40- and 60-player firefights of Resistance: Fall of Man and its sequel, Resistance 3's limit of 16 may come as something of a shock to junkies of previous outings.

Multiplayer lead Cameron Christian explains that, while the scale and intensity of battles worked, it often became too "chaotic". With the return of the weapon wheel and the loadout variety this enables, it was decided that reducing the player count would place greater emphasis on player choice and strategy.

This dramatic scaling down almost certainly delivers handy performance benefits. But the flipside is a balancing headache for the multiplayer team tasked with accommodating every weapon and upgrade found in single-player. "We're trying to make it as balanced and fair as possible," says Christian, sounding a touch beleaguered by the effort but confident of success.

With this in mind, it was a priority from the outset to avoid one-shot kills. Even a fully upgraded Magnum won't completely take out an opponent with full health. You still have to "soften them up a bit", says Christian.

Health packs are one single-player element that hasn't been carried over to MP. Their introduction in the campaign, against the grain of the modern shooter, should result in a more difficult, yes, but more exciting, nerve-shredding experience. But this was deemed inappropriate for the ebb and flow of multiplayer, which retains a familiar recharge system.

The train yard multiplayer map delivers claustrophobic, frenetic fun.

In changing tack on multiplayer, Insomniac will of course have closely studied rivals. "Call of Duty is still pushing it. It set the standard," acknowledges Christian. "We looked at a lot of things, because our damage model is a little lower than Call of Duty, so we looked at Halo too. We're somewhere in between [those games] – we have a lower damage model, but we have perks and abilities like Call of Duty and lots of options."

The multiplayer map setup for playtesting pits Chimera against humans for an eight vs. eight Team Deathmatch set in a ramshackle train yard in Bogoto, Columbia. The map is tightly focused and small scale, provoking some desperate shootouts, and it offers a peep at species-specific perks, such as humans' ability to create a shield.

There's nothing in this map to suggest Insomniac is attempting anything mind-bendingly new at this stage, but it's solid and fun with the promise of satisfying variety through weapon choice.

In a crowded field Resistance has always boasted a distinctive look and feel that sets it apart. 2011 has no shortage of blockbuster shooters on the way, but what we've seen of Insomniac's third outing in the genre so far suggests that the studio and PlayStation still make a lovely couple.

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Johnny Minkley

Johnny Minkley


Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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