+++ Awesome arsenal of weaponry
++ Capacity to carry more than 2 weapons
++ Moderately Difficult
++ Best Launch title in recent memory
+ Quite lengthy for an FPS
+ Specific enemy that shoots through walls
+ Fun Vehicle Sections
+ Good graphics for 2006
+ Solid Enemy Variety
-- Checkpoints are very sparse
- Fairly bland environments
- First level (of 30) is poorly designed
- Somehow set in World War II era despite having futuristic weaponry
- Have to beat the game on hard to unlock the hardest difficulty
I was fairly hesitant to buy this game at first but after reading around I figured I might as well give it a shot. I even considered it to be in the "Objectively good" category and bought it as one of the first several games I got with the system. I'm pretty sure the second game actually gives way for more shooter cliches like only 2 weapons and other crap, but this one feels like good old Doom essentially. Since you can carry around as many weapons as you like (8 in first playthough, 12 in the second, 3 and 4 types of grenades respectively) you don't have to worry about gun swapping every 20 feet like in Halo or every other recent shooter known to man. While that scavenging for gunsoriginally felt intuitive now it feels quite cumbersome and irritating in retrospect.
Guns are the biggest strength this game has; aside from typical weaponry like the assault rifle with a grenade launcher, the shotgun, and grenades, you also get: Another assault rifle with a secondary fire that serves as a homing beacon for primary fire, a gun that bores through walls and tosses up shields that block dissimilar weaponry, a mine thrower, twin pistols that lock on separate targets if you aim them properly and press both triggers at the right time, Flechette grenades, fire grenades (huge blast radius), a flamethrower, a sniper rifle that slows down time when you zoom and more. Perhaps the most creative gun is one that lets you fire off the rest of your clip into a turret sphere that shoots at anything in the radius. Needless to say there is a huge variety of ways to dispatch your opponents. As the game goes on more dangerous opponents appear to combat your increasingly massive arsenal, and except for the 2 heaviest opponents can all be dispatched in a variety of methods.
There is one weapon which is fairly overpowered but it is only accessible in second playthroughs so I don't think that's much of an issue. This weapon is a grenade that pops up a half-sphere which deflects virtually all incoming fire and shoots it back at the opponent, needless to say this helped quite a bit while I was playing on hard, though I didn't abuse it too much. This game sometimes has extraordinarily long times between checkpoints so near the end when I know something irritating is coming I feel well within my rights to toss a backlash grenade and demolish the opponent. As for difficulty the game is relatively difficult on normal, but having become familiar with it on hard it wasn't substantially more difficult than the first playthrough. The hardest checkpoint in the game I did on the first try, despite it taking 15 times the first time around. The second hardest still took 8 or 9 tries of course, and a variety of areas that weren't troublesome before became so in the hard difficulty. Enemy spawn locations are quite varied on the harder difficulty levels so it becomes harder to predict.
The first level is very odd and probably the hardest level in the game on harder difficulty levels, because there are no health pickups and no health regeneration. But due to the awesome powers of plot device you gain regeneration immediately following the end and things get quite a bit easier for at least several levels. I think this is probably the worst design decision, as the game does not feel particularly fun for this admittedly short part of the game. A better idea would have been to toss a solid weapon at you in short order so you could mess around for that first level. There are no pushover enemies in this game so even in the first level against one enemy type you will die a lot without a good amount of dodging fire. Eventually your arsenal overmatches opponents but you do have limited ammo for the better weapons so even at the end the hardest opponents are often the small ones surrounding a giant monster, instead of the giant monster itself.
I'm not sure if this is the best launch title ever but it has to be pretty close. Working with a new IP and approaching the established FPS order in a different fashion they managed to create a quite fun game which, while not being as cinematic as later titles, is probably still the best FPS on the PS3. Doom needs to make a comeback so duck and cover becomes less mandatory, and this would be a fine first step in that direction. Realism is not an interesting facet of shooters, merely a tedious and annoying one. Unfortunately for the PS3 this was the only exclusive good game for almost 2 years, though that seems to be changing now.
Final Grade: 8.5/10