* Awarded 'Best PSP Game of 2009'
Resistance: Retribution is a PSP exclusive the blends the storyline between the original game and last years follow-up. This handheld edition of Resistance wasn’t handled by Resistance’s primary developer Insomniac Games, Retribution wasn’t handed over the very capable hands at Sony Bend. Sony Bend known for the PSP shooters comes out of the box with an exhilarating version of Resistance, topping their last performance in Syphon Filter.
'Resistance: Retribution' is a big title for the Playstation Portable. More than making a game that falls perfectly into the Resistance storyline, Retribution has to please the fans of the series.... and take it from me; they can be a hardcore bunch. Thanks to a little help from the Resistance masterminds, Insomniac, Sony Bend has put together one of the most solid, fun shooters for the PSP to date. I might even go as far as saying, this is the best Resistance game ever made. Sure you loose the big graphics, and huge worlds, but in terms of core mechanics and fun, Retribution belongs right up along side of its big brothers.
The storyline in Retribution picks up after the events in Fall of Man, roughly two weeks. In Retribution, you walk in the combat ready boots of James Grayson, a British Marine who takes as his own personal vendetta to rid the country of the Chimera. James is driven by a fearful vengeance after he stops his brother’s transformation into a Chimera with a bullet between the eyes. It’s a painful sequence that deals with some dark subject matter right off the bat, but once you get rolling you feel a sense of purpose as you lay waste to on coming Chimeran forces. While others are turning and running the opposite way, James pushes forward. Forget saving his country, or saving the world, this is straight up vengeance! This simple formula works perfectly in the nature of Resistance’s war torn world. Surprisingly I felt a bigger connection to the storyline in Retribution than I felt in both of the console versions. There is something about the narration, static images, and storyline that fit together perfectly. Sony Bend really did an outstanding job which helps draw you into the action.
On the console Resistance has a distinct arcade shooter feel with pace that is rapid, cinematic, and always evolving. These pieces of the puzzle are amazingly kept in tack on the PSP in one of the most fast paced shooters you’ll can find on the system. One way Sony Bend quickens up the pace is by changing the player’s perspective from the first person and switches it over to the third. This is a big change for a game that is strictly a FPS; however it works like a charm on the PSP, so much that you swear they should have gone this route in the first place. For a direct comparison you would have to reference Bend’s other title Syphon Filter because they are both very similar in the way they play.
The gameplay controls feel very natural and at home on the PSP, even when you know the device is lacking because of the missing second analog stick. Retribution is another clear example of another title that would only benefit from the PSP having another thumbstick nub... hint, hint PSP 2. In Retribution the thumbstick and face buttons control movement with the thumbstick for moving and the face buttons for aiming. The triggers control your weapons and the D-Pad on the side is used for a number of tasks, like interaction with in-game objects, reloading and cycling through weapons. Again the controls aren’t perfect, but it is the best you’re going to get without that other analog thumbstick. I had no problems running around Resistance, the learning curve is real short and if have been worried about control issues, throw them out the window.
One innovation that Sony Bend has tweaked from their third person controls is the way cover is handled. Following other titles on the big consoles cover is handled by simply pressing up against an object. This can be a wall, or anything that has a flat surface. Like every other game that uses this dynamic cover system you will be able to spot each area when entering a new section on a map. It’s up to you if you want to shoot it out, old west style, or head for the cover and play peak-a-boo with bullets. Your character will automatically take cover and learn up, or over, to help you wipe out the enemy. This system translates well to Resistance's game mechanics and I wouldn’t be surprised if other comes “borrowed” this concept in their development efforts.
Aiming is helped along with an assisting tweak that highlights enemies when they are close to cross-hairs. The aim assistant makes this a little too easy at times, but without it Resistance would really be a tricky beast. It can be turned off if you wish to try your luck the old standard way. Plus, you have the ability to zoom into at any time by pressing up on the D-Pad. This disengages the aiming assistant and gives your closer look at your enemy. Aiming and shooting is an important part of Resistance, given that is what you will be doing for the majority of your play time. Even though the game is basically a third-person shooter, there is a lot of variance in how you can approach each situation.
Working your way through each mission shouldn’t take you too long, and depending on the difficulty you choose it could be a quick run, or a slower resource watching episode. In total expect around 10hrs of game time without trying to snag all the in-game achievements. Achievements you say, well... kind of. In each level there are three Skill Point objects that vary in objectives. Knowing what the achievements are is kind of tricky because you’ll need to load up a level you already beat, remember the goals and then head into the game. What’s it all for, well unlockables of course. Hitting achievements will unlock extra content like new music and movies. Aside from the achievements there is hidden intelligence packages spaced through out each mission. Finding hidden Intel will grant you a few new weapons that pack a punch. The packages aren’t too hard to find, but they do require some exploration in a level.
If you are lucky enough to own both versions of Resistance: Retribution and Resistance 2 you can utilize the cross-platform connectivity. By placing Resistance 2 in the PS3 and connecting Retribution to the PS3 with the USB cable you can Infect Resistance: Retribution and activate Resistance: Retribution Plus. Infecting Retribution infects James Grayson with the virus that Nathan Hale has in the console versions. This means Grayson will get a number of goodies to help in his fight. The major bonus comes in the ability to regenerate health and breathe underwater. Those helpful traits also come along with a new outfit and an explosive magnum handgun. Retribution Plus is a cool feature that lets you use the PS3 controller to play Retribution on your PSP. Keep in mind that using the PS3 controller will disable your aim assistance and your own your own. It’s not so bad because you’ll now be able to roll with the second thumbstick working. It’s one of those pick your poison deals, and a cool innovation that utilizes the cross-platform connectivity between the PS3 and the PSP.
Resistance: Retribution also has a solid online aspect tacked on the main campaign. Online using both ad-hoc and infrastructure modes you be able to fight in eight-player matches. There are five modes that include the standard Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Free-For-All (Deathmatch), and two new creations Assimilation and Containment. Assimilation has one player starting as a Cloven infecting the Maquis as they kill a member. This is a fun mode that has a nice balance to it, full of surprises and interesting twists. The Containment mode is a little straight forward as you have to capture and hold nodes from the other team. Aside from all the game modes Retribution has support for voice chat, a ranking system and online medals to capture. This hefty package shows everyone that PSP titles can be major players online. Resistance: Retribution might not be able to compare to Resistance 2’s massive online matches, but it’s impressive to say the least on the handheld.
Sony Bend has created one of the best third-person shooters we have seen on the PSP. Resistance: Retribution is solid, start to finish. There is so much good to mention it is almost useless to go on about how great his game game. All you basically need to know is that you need to check out this game. Own a PSP? Then head out to your local gaming store and pick up a copy of Resistance: Retribution, it's that good!
Gameplay:9.5, Graphics:8.5, Sound:8, Innovation:9, Mojo:10 Final: 9.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 03.27.09