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Resistance 2

Review: Surprisingly unsurprising...

Putting set-pieces in your game that allow you to shoot sky-scraper-sized monsters in the mouth with rocket launchers is always going to get people's attention. It got ours. But that alone isn't enough to stand up to the giants of the FPS genre.

Right from the off it's blatantly obvious that every part of R2 has been given an extra lick of polish over the launch-day original. The intro scene and subsequent movie sequences are more compelling, they also tell a better story than before. The main character, Nathan Hale, has more story to tell too.

The levels are bigger now, with more detail stretching into the distance, more vibrant colours and some nice lighting effects. The very first few seconds of the game see you taking on one of the most enormous robots we've ever seen. It's a spectacular opening, especially compared to the original's.

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There have been some fundamental gameplay changes, too. The first game's admittedly cool health system, which featured a partitioned health bar that only recharged up to the nearest quarter, is gone, with Insomniac opting for the more widely-used, full-recharge health.

It's the same as in all the other FPS games; the screen goes a deeper shade of red as you take damage, hide for a few seconds and you're feeling better.

Hale's also lost the magical ability to carry every weapon he finds, now only able to carry two - again like all the other big shooters. Most of the old weapon makes a return, and some new guns turn up to add that extra kick.

Check out our in-game footage here.

There are wacky new shooters and a new semi-automatic sniper rifle that shoots three rounds at a time, but we absolutely love the Magnum.

It's a stupidly powerful single-shot pistol that can take down standard Chimera in a single shot. But the best part is that every bullet doubles up as a little explosive. Hitting the secondary fire button triggers all the bullets to explode, causing, yes, massive damage.

But the biggest change is the game's setting. Gone is ye olde England in favour of the good old US of A. Hale now blasts through iconic cities such as San Francisco or Chicago instead of Hull and Grimsby (no offence). And Insomniac has, in places, taken advantage of its new bigger settings. There are some scenes of utter chaos where Chimera fill the sky.

And while these elements have raised the bar for the series, it hasn't risen enough. Today's heavyweight shooters are based around weapons that form a tight and well-balanced system of pros and cons. That, along with good, solid AI, is the make up of a shooter that's as much about strategy and immersion as it is squeezing the life out of triggers.

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The Chimera don't behave at all like believable beings. They're like mindless drones, occasionally taking cover, but mostly just running at you all guns blazing, with a complete disregard for the inevitable shower of bullets that'll greet them.

There's no feeling that they're working as a unit to destroy you. They don't retreat when outgunned, flank or close in when you're pinned down or any of the other things that make the Covenant or the Locust a more formidable foe.

That's not to say you can Rambo your way through the game. You'll occasionally find yourself facing overwhelming odds and the sheer volume of plasma balls fired your way force you to take cover behind a rock.

But Resistance 2's level design doesn't help. Where's the strategy in being made to fend off a dozen hovering, laser-equipped robots in an open, empty corridor with no cover? Or in having Chimera appear to shoot at you when you're crossing a full-exposed, elevated walkway with nowhere to hide.

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