A few months back at a press event for "Resistance 2" I asked Sony and Insomniac producers why their new first-person shooter existed.
I wasn't asking a business question or a philosophical one. I was asking from a gamer's perspective.
I argued that important FPS games need to satisfy, well, a need in gamers' appetites. I suggested that "Call of Duty" serves an appetite for gamers to experience a first-person thrill ride. "Halo" fulfills the need for great competition, both against sophisticated artificial intelligence in its campaign mode and against millions of competitors online.
You could go down the list of great first-person series and find a reason each one might be essential for a gamer. But, I told the "Resistance" guys, I struggled to identify what the essential "something" of "Resistance" is. Without that "something," I figured, the series wouldn't be seen as a leader in its genre, but instead just another solid game that happens to be a PlayStation exclusive.
I finished the "Resistance 2" campaign a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed it. I didn't think it was amazing, but it was fun and ended in a very interesting way. Yet I still didn't think I'd found that "something." The Insomniac guys had argued to me that the series' alternate world history might be the series' distinguishing mark. I considered that the games' unusual weapons might be the thing. But neither idea is really helping "Resistance 2" move to the forefront of the FPS pack, not in my mind and, I suspect, not in some other gamers' minds.
Yesterday, however, I finally played a round of the game's mission-based co-op with friends. I had only played it at that aforementioned press event, briefly. Last night I played it for an hour. And in that hour, in playing eight-man mission-based, character-class-defined, team co-op, I think I found "Resistance"'s "something." Eight gamers against an army. A balance of skills and responsibilities. Teamwork. A defense of Earth.
It works. It's the "something," I think.
And now I have something to look forward to in the inevitable sequel.
Next: Do I go to the Wired store tonight to watch Media Molecule's Alex Evans speak? Or do I go home and play "Banjo" and "Prince of Persia"?