The Fun Gun Award™ is an award I give to video game guns that aren’t necessarily effective, aren’t necessarily balanced, don’t necessarily give the player any tactical advantage, but which do have creative behavior, unique design, and which are fun to use. These guns might suck (or they might even be overpowered), but they’re so fun to use that they’re worth talking about.
I don’t think the Resistance series gets enough credit.
It’s visuals and enemies were a little dull and plain (everything is mostly grey and brown), but I actually kind of liked the Chimera’s design with their weird back pillars and multiple eyes. The game also had a health system that was a sensible compromise between regenerating health and static health. The story even had some creative moments: for example, in the Resistance 2 the player character is slowly becoming evil and has to be assassinated by the end of the game; in Resistance 3 you play as the killer.
But, of course, the most important thing that needs to stand out in an FPS are the weapons. And that’s one of the things that really shine in Resistance. Some of the weapons are pretty standard fair, but a lot of them play around with creative and clever mechanics that change the way the player thinks and changes the way he plays the game. Among these imaginative weapons, none of them are useless, all of them are effective, and some of them are flat out overpowered (which is a change pace for a Fun Gun Award).
Nevertheless, they’re worth talking about because to a certain degree they change the way the player plays and thinks about the game.
(A quick note: I’m writing all of this based on memories from many years ago; I haven’t played any Resistance games recently. But, while writing this I noticed I was having difficulty explaining why some of these guns were so gratifying. And I wasn’t able to find any good screenshots for them either. I think some of them are just guns that have to be experienced to be understood.)
The Auger fires energy projectiles that can pass through obstacles such as walls and ceilings. Its secondary fire deploys an energy shield which only Auger shots can penetrate. It’s a really fun gun to use although it can be difficult at times.
In the first Resistance you couldn’t see through walls with the Auger, so you kind of had to guesstimate where your opponents might be, and you’d only find out if you killed them if you actually moved around the obstacle to take a look. The results of this were mixed and it resulted in a feeling of precarious empowerment. On the one hand, enemies weren’t safe from you no matter where they were. On the other hand, you knew generally, but not precisely, where the enemies were.
The mechanics of the Auger change a bit after the first game. Now the Auger let you see enemies through walls with a kind of thermal vision. This was useful even if you weren’t going to fight with the Auger: you could just have it out to see where the upcoming enemies would be and then pull out another weapon to actually fight them.
In addition, Auger shots would gain strength the more obstacles they passed through. To counterbalance all this, the shots would spend extra time “burrowing” or “boring” through an obstacle before emerging on the other side and resuming their normal speed through empty air.
Again, this created a precarious sense of empowerment when using the Auger. You could see enemies when they couldn’t see you and you could attack them when they couldn’t immediately attack you. However, you had to alter your perception of timing and movement in order to accurately use the gun (something that’s true of most projectile weapons and is especially true of using the Auger). You had to be thinking a second or two further into the future than you normally would be. In altering your perception of time and space it kind of reminds me of the Bio-rifle in Unreal Tournament.
The Bullseye has a homing bullet mechanic. I’m surprised this type of gun didn’t show up in shooters sooner (maybe it did and I just didn’t notice). The primary fire shoots regular bullets. The secondary shoots a tag which acts as a homing device that the bullets will fly towards no matter where you’re aiming.
It’s a very satisfying weapon, but it kind of changes the way you play the game.
It encourages the player to focus on killing one enemy at a time and not moving onto the next one however the situation changes. For example, let’s say you’re fighting two enemies, tag one and it hides behind some cover. Normally you might shift your fire to the second enemy who is still in the open. With the Bullseye, though, you’re encourage to keep trying to kill the tagged one so as not to waste the tag. And because the Bullseye shots curve towards the tag there is the potential to shoot around the cover and still kill the first enemy.
(edit – Thinking about the example in the above paragraph, I guess I have another point. If the enemy you tagged goes behind cover, your normal FPS instinct might be to start shooting the second enemy who is in the open. If you swing your aim to the second enemy you’ll be in for a surprise because the bullets will veer away from him and hit the cover that the first enemy is hiding behind. In this way, the Bullseye doesn’t let you fall back on old shooter instincts. You have to rethink and redefine your way of playing. You have to consciously choose to engage in the game slightly differently than you’re used to. Maybe that’s a clearer example of why I think this weapon is interesting.)
The homing mechanic also created this focus on precision in a way that’s different than, let’s say, a sniper rifle. For one, missing an enemy with the tag isn’t the end. Tags can stick to walls and floors (if I remember correctly), so you could still improvise and aim in such a way that the bullets would still curve and hit the enemy in their attempt to reach the tag.
Also, while you want precision with a sniper rifle to kill the enemy, the Bullseye can kill enemies just as effectively and quickly whether you’re using the homing mechanic or not. The reason you want precision with the Bullseye is to have a chance to have fun using the homing bullets. It kind of encourages you to change the way you play the game to maximize your fun rather than being more effective at killing.
I’m not doing a good job explaining the psychological effect this gun had on the way I played the game, but it has something to do with wanting to get the best experience. If I wasn’t using the tag and killing enemies with the homing ability I felt like I was wasting the gun. I’d actually put myself into situations that I normally would not have in order to use the gun’s mechanic because it was so satisfying.
HE .44 Magnum:
The Magnum fires bullets with the primary fire, but the secondary fire then detonates those bullets whether they’re stuck to a wall or buried inside of an enemy.
Similar to the Bullseye, I was always waiting for the right moment to use the Magnum. Rather than playing the game in a straightforward run-and-gun style I would be trying to maximize the fun I could have while using this weapon.
If I managed to kill an enemy before getting a chance to detonate the bullets I was genuinely disappointed. I could still detonate the bullets, which would fling the corpse around, but it just wasn’t the same.
I was always trying to use the gun in creative ways rather than just killing. I’d try to fire and detonate the bullets on walls or floors to kill enemies coming around corners. Or, I’d try to shoot multiple enemies and detonate the bullets to kill everyone at once. Or, I’d try to detonate each bullet one at a time to “pain lock” the enemy.
I never used this gun because it was only available on a second playthrough (an incentives tactic that I completely disagree with).
It’s hard to find any reliable videos that show how this gun works in a combat situation, but the general gist is this: the primary fire creates a group of projectiles that can be aimed and then released; the secondary fire splits this group into two groups, and then into four groups, and so on.
It’s a weird concept, and it looks weird too, but I guess the general idea is that you can choose to do damage in a small area ahead of you or to do damage to progressively broader areas in front of you.
Its execution is kind of weird and I can think of a few other hypothetical mechanics that would do a better job, but it nevertheless seemed interesting enough to mention.
The primary fire shoots a “standard” bolt of electricity that auto-targets enemies, but who cares about that boring nonsense.
The secondary fire deploys a ball of electricity that tethers enemies with bolts of lightning and pulls them towards itself. It’s basically like a land mine mixed with a gravity well.
It’s not the most unique idea and it might be overpowered, but it’s just such a fun ability to use especially when you’re being swarmed by enemies.
Any weapon like this (turrets, summable monsters, etc.) kind of acts as a way of relieving the player and giving him a break from the normal game. It’s like you get to step aside from the gameplay as it continues in a location away from you.
Perhaps my favorite weapon in the Resistance series. It basically fires disease that infects enemies and turns them into biological bombs that try to blow up their friends. An infected enemy that explodes will then infect any other enemies that it hasn’t outright killed.
In his Zero Punctuation review of Resistance 3, the infamous Yahtzee said that the Mutator had a minor balance issue because it was “possible to wipe out an entire battalion in one shot.” And my response to this would be, “YES! And that’s what makes it fun!”
The Mutator’s unbalanced nature levels off the game difficulty to a degree, but this cost comes at the benefit of making you feel absolutely empowered and in control. It kind of just makes you feel like a mad-scientist-overlord as you decimate your enemies. And it’s just really fun to watch, as well.
Turning enemies against each other is one of the most satisfying mechanics in games. It subverts the normal structure of the game which feels empowering and it gives a sense of accomplishment that killing enemies directly doesn’t do.
Similarly to the Atomizer’s secondary fire, turning enemies against each other gives you a break from the normal game. You get to step back and just watch things unfold. It’s almost like the Mutator let’s you create an in-game cinematic by turning the focal point of the game’s activity away from yourself. There’s probably something profound to be gleaned from that last statement, but I’m not going to dig into it right now.
Oh, and of course there’s a freezeray and it’s called the Cryogun.