PROJECT RESISTANCE Continues Franchise History Of Confusing Spinoffs
I first heard about Project Resistance on last week’s episode of Real Professional. If you couldn’t tell by my tone of voice or the words coming out of my mouth, I was skeptical. As hallowed as many of the major Resident Evil installments are (I think RE6 is the only one that consistently catches shit), most forget that the series has had a just as many ill-fated attempts to branch out. It puts fans in a weird spot. I should be excited for a new Resident Evil, but I remember Umbrella Corps, Operation Raccoon City, Dead Aim, even Gaiden. So when Capcom sent me the info on Project Resistance a week ago, I sat on it until I saw some gameplay from the Tokyo Game Show. If you haven’t seen the new gameplay trailer yet, click the video above.
After watching some of the footage dribbling out of TGS, I have to say that my mild skepticism is now full-blown. To lay some groundwork, Project Resistance is a new 4v1 multiplayer survival game set in the Resident Evil universe. Four players will take the roll of survivors, each with their own specialty. Their goal is to collect items, kill zombies, and solve puzzles to escape a series of areas. A timer constantly ticks down, with certain successful actions granting you more time. Conversely, certain pitfalls will lead to you losing time. I’m not exactly sure how it all works, but overall it seems progress rewards you with time while traps take it away. Meanwhile, a fifth player takes the roll of the “Mastermind.” The Mastermind’s job is to stop the survivors. They do this by planting traps, spawning zombies, activating hazards, and even directly controlling the undead. This is limited to a “deck of cards,” but I’m not sure exactly what that means.
On its face, Project Resistance sounds fun. Way back when I was a younger man, I used to love to play the Half-Life 2 mod “Zombie Master.” Similar to Project Resistance, a player would spawn the zombies, activate traps, turn off lights, or manipulate the environment, often with hilariously buggy and unintended consequences. To see that vision come to life with a real budget and with all the amateur bugs ironed out is a dream come true.
Unfortunately, Project Resistances has a few things going against it. First of all, the trailer footage looks very lackluster. Combat seems to have no weight to it, with melee blows and gunshots amounting to little more than floating damage numbers above the foe’s head. Similarly, the UI lacks any kind of finesse, and the inventory screen is ripped straight from RE2. Most of the monsters seem pulled straight from RE2 as well. RE2 was great, but recycling assets feels cheap. There was some new stuff shown like a riot zombie you had to shoot in the head, but that’s hardly groundbreaking. Zombies also seemed very sparse from what I saw, with long stretches of silence in between brief and formulaic combat.
Keep in mind, this isn’t the franchise’s first foray into multiplayer. What we’ve seen before doesn’t bode well. Both Operation Raccoon City and Umbrella Corps were savaged by critics. On the other hand, I quite liked the Revelations 2 raid mode multiplayer. Still, if the whole of Revelations 2 had just been the raid mode, I would have been pissed. You’d have to think all the way back to 2004’s Outbreak: File #2 to find the last time a specifically multiplayer Resident Evil was well received. And no, I don’t consider RE5 in this category, because it could just as easily be played singleplayer. Overall, previous Resident Evil games have shown us that multiplayer is best when its a fun addition or a classic survival horror experience.
As with most games, I’m more than willing to be surprised by Project Resistance. Zombie shooter aren’t in short supply, but the more robust Resident Evil zombies might make for an interesting challenge. Resident Evil 2 had zombies that could take a whole clip of handgun bullets to bring down, so facing that challenge with friends might just be the thing the genre needs.
You won’t have to wait long to see how it turns out, since the beta goes live October 4th. If you want to get in on this early action, you’ll have to register for it at the Project Resistance website. Interested parties will have to be members of the Xbox Insider Program or RE Ambassadors for Xbox or PS4 respectively. You’ll have to hurry though, as the registration ends September 18th. I’ll be interested to see how it all turns out. Let me know below your thoughts on Project Resistance, and join me when it launches sometime in the future to crack some zombie skulls!