Having very few friends, I hadn’t really been impressed with the recent rash of video games boasting cooperative play or multiplayer features. If I were more popular, I thought, maybe I’d like them. But for all the multiplayer action I usually get I might as well have just one PS3 controller. Twenty-five years ago I might have been able to get by with grabbing two Atari joysticks and playing by myself, but games like Pong don’t quite match today’s offerings in terms of challenge or complexity. Also, I was in diapers and didn’t exactly know what my feet were.

My opinion changed, however, when I picked up a copy of Resistance 3, which was released late last year. Being a fan of the first one, I finally made my way around to buying this newest entry into the alternate-history series. The co-op aspect didn’t even enter my mind at first, as I was completely taken in by the stunning graphics and the engaging gameplay. One of the strongest aspects of the Resistance series has been the melding of historical elements (namely World War II) with science-fiction (aliens that will rip your head off if you get too close, for example), and this one was no different. From fighting aliens under a barely-standing St. Louis Arch to an intense battle in the middle of a war-torn Times Square, Resistance 3 uses real life locales to push the feeling of high stakes, like you could look out your window and see the buildings around you bursting with explosions.

After finishing the campaign, I immediately started on a second play-through, but on the main menu the co-op option somehow caught my eye, and I wondered just how much different it would be to play with a partner. The prospect of saving the world again seemed much more inviting with someone to cover me. So, I dusted off my second controller and invited a friend over to play.

The co-op mode is, story wise, exactly the same as the single player. But what a world of difference. Together, my friend and I were shouting at one another to take down alien snipers, whimpering our way through abandoned railway stations infested with creatures that looked like they’d just dressed themselves for display in a butcher shop, and then awed into silence (for me a second time) when the game’s stellar graphics would show us just how intense the PlayStation 3 can get. One particular scene involving floating up the Mississippi river and getting trapped under a falling bridge was particularly impressive, and by the time the thing collapsed, both of us looked like we’d just sat through a summer blockbuster.

Resistance 3 is from Insomniac Games, the same studio that produces the Ratchet & Clank series, and their influence can be seen especially in the weapons the game makes available. Several guns (like the Bullseye and Auger) from the previous two games make return appearances, but they’re complemented by new guns like the Mutator, which grows explosive green pustules on enemies and turns them into walking time bombs. Also, the Cryogun gives a nice little inverse to the often played-out flamethrower by shooting a jet of ice at enemies and allowing you to smash them to pieces with either a melee hit or the weapon’s alternate firing mode, a concussive blast that shatters frozen enemies to pieces.