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Plugged In

Resistance 3 kicks off gaming’s biggest season

Plugged In

Strictly speaking, it's still summer: the leaves are still green, the sun's still shining (hurricanes notwithstanding), and the apples are nowhere near ripe -- but regardless, the fall video gaming season unofficially starts today.

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Resistance is futile.

Yup, from here until Thanksgiving, barely a week goes by without at least one major new release hitting the streets. This time it's the turn of PS3-exclusive sci-fi shooter Resistance 3, which sees new kid on the block Joseph Capelli joining a losing battle as Earth is slowly overwhelmed by invading aliens.

And it gets top marks from Joystiq, where Capelli's near-hopeless plight -- and its contrast with the usual macho shooter cliches -- strikes a chord with critic Griffin McElroy.

"Resistance 3 exchanges the genre's all-too-familiar bravado for a pervasive and relentless air of desperation," he says. "It's a subtle substitution, but it's singlehandedly responsible for making Resistance 3 one of the most compelling shooters I've ever played."

Calling out its variety of specialized weaponry, its seldom-seen setting (amid the Midwestern US), and its addictive and deep multiplayer component, it solidifies the series as "a defining brand for the [Playstation 3]," he says.

"Resistance 3 isn't just a great game full of marked, inspired improvements over its predecessor," McElroy concludes, "it's a declaration of intent to become the new heir apparent to the sci-fi shooter throne."

"On most every point," agrees 1UP's Thierry Nguyen, "it's a clear improvement for the franchise. It's one of the most well-made shooters on the market. It's worth your time to play if you like FPS games, and that applies to both fans and non-fans alike." Nguyen contrasts that praise with a handful of criticisms, however, and amid complaints about gameplay inconsistencies and an unsatisfying ending rates it a B+.

So far, so good -- but down at the other end of the scale, the more personal storyline clearly didn't resonate with Game Informer's Dan Ryckert, whose review, at a 7.0, is among its lowest scores so far. Calling the graphics "bland" and the online play "average," citing glitches with the game's artificial intelligence, and accusing Capelli of boasting "all the menace of a Walmart greeter," you might be forgiven for wondering if he was playing the same game as McElroy.

"Resistance 3 makes it clear that the series doesn't belong amongst the triple-A competition in the genre," he says, labeling it the most disappointing entry in the series. "If this is the final Resistance game, the franchise is certainly going out with a whimper."

Review aggregation site Metacritic.com puts Resistance 3's average score around the 84% mark; not a bad showing, but still a low point for the series so far. Can it compete with its fast-approaching (and similarly themed) Xbox 360 rival Gears of War 3? We'll find out in just two weeks -- but the bar is set, and perhaps not as highly as Sony might have hoped.

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Also releasing this week:

Dead Island

After wowing zombie fans with a jaw-dropping debut trailer, open-world action game Dead Island has kept its hype train a-rolling all the way to its release this week. And it's brought with it a boxcar full of review scores that are all over the board: everything from 8s and 8.5s to a woeful 3/10 from prestigious UK mag Edge. The PC version is in a particularly bad state -- a train wreck, you might say -- thanks to some nasty bugs. While fixes are reportedly on their way, you might want to think carefully before hopping on board.

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Driver: San Francisco

Beginning in fine form in 1999 with a stellar Playstation action-racer, the Driver series pretty much crashed and burned during the following decade. But this week it's back in style with Driver: San Francisco, and based on critical reception, it's the best outing the game has had since the original. Though the plot -- involving series lead John Tanner developing psychic powers that allow him to leap, Sam Beckett-style, into the bodies of other racers -- is nothing short of daft, the innovative multiplayer gameplay this mechanic enables is earning the game plenty of praise.

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Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

Though Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame is immensely popular, attempts to translate it into video games have met with mixed results. Fortunately, initial reactions indicate shooter Space Marine is among the best of them. Consider it a must-buy for devotees of the universe -- and a definite maybe for fans of sci-fi action games in general. Look for it in stores this week.

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Star Fox 64 3D

"Do a barrel roll!" And why not? Classic shoot-'em-up Star Fox was one of the best games on the Nintendo 64, and this week it's becoming the latest to get the stereoscopic 3DS treatment. Yes, it might be yet another Nintendo remake, but when they're this well put together, who cares?

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