Entry updated 24 October 2017. Tagged: Game.
Videogame (2006). Insomniac Games (IG). Platforms: PS3.
Resistance is a well crafted First Person Shooter set in an Alternate History in which aliens invaded the UK in the early 1950s. The setting is vividly realized, from the devastated towns of Northern England where the last remnants of the armed forces launch their desperate raids to the conversion factories where humans infected by the aliens' mutagenic virus are brought to complete their transformations into extraterrestrial organisms. In this reality, World War Two did not occur; instead, the Great War was followed by peace in Europe and lasting prosperity. This happy picture was marred only by Russia, which had completely sealed itself off from outside contact shortly after the failure of its Communists to overthrow the Tsar. In 1949, however, aliens known as the Chimera – who had reached Earth on the 1908 Tunguska meteorite – invaded Europe from beyond the "Red Curtain", having converted most of Russia's population into alien supersoldiers. After swiftly crushing the continental nations, the Chimera burrowed under the English Channel and have almost completed the conquest of Britain when the Americans launch a counter-attack from across the Atlantic; this is the point at which the game begins.
The player, adopting the role of a US soldier, must shoot their way through a strictly linear storyline (see Interactive Narrative) before they can liberate Britain by killing the aliens which control the bulk of the invasion force. During his odyssey, the player's character discovers that the Chimera intend to be both the once and future overlords of Earth; their artefacts have been buried beneath England's soil for millions of years, waiting for their return. Gameplay is enlivened by a wide variety of monstrous opponents formed from human flesh, as well as by the superhuman abilities the protagonist gains from being exposed to the alien virus while somehow escaping its full effects. Subtle characterization is not, however, a strong point.
In the similarly constructed sequel, Resistance 2 (2008 IG, PS3) designed by Ted Price, Todd Fixman, Brian Hastings, the same protagonist is given access to drugs to keep the Chimera virus under control, and a complex history of experimentation with its effects on humans is revealed; these experiments may be responsible for the lead character's unusual reaction to the mutagen. The main narrative, however, is concerned with the protagonist's defeat of a massive alien invasion of North America. In the end, the player's character is overcome by the virus and transforms into an alien being, forcing his last remaining comrade to kill him. Meanwhile, a Wormhole opens above New York, allowing a second Chimeran invasion fleet to arrive from another star, replacing the one which the player has just destroyed. The final game, Resistance 3 (2011 IG, PS3) designed by Marcus Smith, Drew Murray, Jon Paquette, is again a First Person Shooter with a linear narrative in which the lead character is less a soldier than a guerilla fighter in alien occupied territory. Here, the surviving character from the previous game must defeat the second alien attack on what is by now an almost entirely conquered – and very much devastated – America. Eventually, a complete victory against the Chimera can be achieved.
All of these games gain from their juxtaposition of the familiar details of the past with the alien and the grotesque, in a history which is not quite our own. There are several literary antecedents for this effect, including Harry Turtledove's Worldwar sequence, in which Aliens invade Earth during the second World War. Arguably, something similar was at work in the pulp novels of Operator #5, who fought a Purple Invasion which laid waste to America with secret Weapons and scientific plagues; whatever the reality in which these stories took place, it was clearly not the one their readers were living in.
Related works: Resistance: Retribution (2009 Sony Computer Entertainment, PSP) is a Third Person Shooter in which the player takes the part of a British marine who must liberate alien occupied Europe, set between the events of Resistance and Resistance 2. Resistance: Burning Skies (2012 Nihilistic Software, PSVita) designed by Harley Baldwin White-Wiedow is a First Person Shooter, similarly set between Fall of Man and Resistance 2, in which the player must oppose the Chimera's initial invasion of America, with a story co-written by William C Dietz. Reviews were mixed. Project Abraham (2009 42 Entertainment, Web) designed by Brooke Thompson is an Alternate Reality Game which explores the secret history of US experiments with the Chimera virus; it was developed to promote the release of Resistance 2. Global Resistance (2011 IG, Social) is a Computer Wargame in which players can control either human or Chimera forces in the world wide war. Resistance (2009) is a six-issue Comic series, written by Mike Costa and set between the first and second games. Resistance: The Gathering Storm (2009) and Resistance: A Hole in the Sky (2011), both by William C Dietz, are prequels to respectively Resistance 2 and Resistance 3. [NT]
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