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Resistance: Retribution

 

Resistance: Retribution

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: PSP
Category: 3rd Person: Action
 
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Author:

Developer: Bend Studios
Publisher: SCEA

Features

1 Player
Memory Stick Duo 736KB
Wi-Fi Compatible (Ad Hoc): 1-8 Players
Wi-Fi Compatible (Infrastructure): 2-8 Players
PSP Headset Compatible

I had the chance to review Resistance 2 for the PS3 during the holiday glut of games in late 2008. Overall I was pretty impressed with the effort at hand. Sony has recently released another Resistance game, this time for the PSP. Resistance: Retribution takes place between the stories of the two games that were released on the PS3, and it has a new developer at the helm. So as I opened the package and put the UMD into my PSP I went in with a blank slate while wondering how they would adapt the PS3 franchise into a machine that is far less powerful and lacking some much needed control options. Well after some playtime with the game I have to say they did a pretty good job of this monumental task.

Graphics

Visually speaking, I had some low expectations for Resistance: Retribution given that the original Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2 were both released on Sony’s uber-console, the PS3. Well after playing through the various levels that are offered I have come to the conclusion that the visuals are pretty darn good. Sure, you cannot compare them to the PS3 games as that would be ludicrous; however on their own, and against other PSP titles, they do a pretty good job. There is ample use of lighting, shadowing, particle effects, and all those other technical tricks that are available on the PSP. The level designs are pretty solid and each one felt like you were in a different part of the game. What this means is that they did not feel recycled. The game runs at a decent framerate and there were no technical glitches that took away from the experience. Finally, the cutscenes that tell the story look darn good too and help tell the tale that unweaves in front of you. Overall I would have to say that the visual effort is solid and there is nothing to dislike here.

Sound

The audio in Resistance: Retribution is one of the highlights of the game as the UMD’s digital format is used to the fullest extent. From the sound effects to the music, all that is offered is top notch. Weapons manage to have distinct sounds, explosions sound pretty darn “explosive”, and the Chimera sound like those that I experienced in the bigger console versions. The voice work is also worth commenting. Each character manages to convey their emotions in a pretty good manner and the actors definitely don’t sound like they are just going through the emotions of speaking their lines.

With all the good work on the sound effects and voice work you’d think nothing could get better, but what you will really notice is the music. The developers have managed to provide an orchestral soundtrack that really keeps you involved in the emotions of the game. From the music that plays during the cutscenes to the music that accompanies actual gameplay. Not only is it all very suitable to what is on-screen at the time, but it really emphasizes the situation you may be in, from an intense battle to a pivotal point in the story. What really surprised me was that the music seemed to be active at all times. I found this pretty effective given that amongst all in-game action you could hear the music plugging away ever so effectively. Overall the total audio package is strong, and you really get a feeling they worked hard on this aspect of the game. Oh yeah, do yourself a favor, listen play the game through a set of headphones, as the sound is that much better.

Gameplay

Resistance: Retribution is a third-person shooter set in the weeks after Resistance: Fall of Man. It follows a former British Marine, James Grayson, who after finding his brother being converted into a Chimera is forced to kill him inside a Chimeran conversion center. Upon having to commit such a grievous act Grayson goes on a vendetta to destroy every conversion center he can find. In his efforts to do such he goes AWOL from the British Marines but they eventually catch up to him and imprison him for his actions. Eventually Grayson learns that his efforts have been futile as the Chimera have evolved a new method of converting humans. He is sprung from jail by The European resistance – the Maquis – who enlist his help. He joins his new allies in Operation Overstrike and a new adventure begins.

During my time with the game I found myself somewhat attached to the story and the role that Grayson plays. It was quite surprising to me as I usually find myself not caring too much, and that includes the story that I followed in Resistance 2. However for some strange reason I followed the story closer in this PSP version of the Resistance franchise. Maybe it was the fact that Grayson speaks to you, the gamer, through journal entries prior to each level. This was a great way to flush out the story and to get attached to who Grayson is and the emotional turmoil he continually battles with. The cutscenes that have been utilized for the game also help to pull you into this aspect of the game and I watched everyone with attentively.

If you have played any of the Resistance games before, which I bet a lot of you have, then a lot of the enemies and weapons found in the PSP version will seem very familiar. If you have not played any of the games, don’t worry as it won’t hamper your experience. There is a slew of familiar Chimera plus a few that are new to the franchise such as the Hag and Cloven. As for your arsenal of weapons to fight the Chimera, you’ll find some very familiar guns like the shotty or magnum, while you will find some new ones including the Razor energy weapon. As with Resistance 2 each weapon has a secondary fire too so the magnum has the now well known explosive feature while the new Razor fires razor blade like energy bolts that mows down anything in front of it.

Controlling Grayson in his battle against the Chimera is very satisfying. Now I have never been a big fan of third or first person shooters on Sony’s portable because you are limited to the PSP’s analog nub and the face buttons as the missing second analog stick found on most controllers. Because of the control issues I have always preferred my shooters on home consoles. However as I ventured through the various levels offered in Resistance: Retribution I found that the control was up to the task of offering me a gratifying experience.

In terms of the actual control scheme, the analog nub is used to move Grayson in any direction while the face buttons control his view. Tapping the right shoulder button fires your weapon and the left shoulder button switches to your weapon’s secondary fire. The D pad also plays an important role too. By tapping down on it Grayson will climb over things (context sensitive) while pressing up on it will zoom in your weapon’s sights. Tapping it to the right will cycle through your available weapons and holding it to the right will pause the game and bring up a pretty neat weapon wheel.

As this game is developed by Bend Studios, a lot of people will recognize the similarities of the control scheme to the last Syphon Filter game, as the dev-team is the same. That being said, there are some very notable additions. The first is that there is an Aim Assist box. As you play you will notice a large yellow outline of a box on screen. If an enemy is within this box the crosshairs of your weapon will autolock allowing you to fire away. Also new to the control scheme is the improved and very intuitive cover system. As you find various objects to use as cover from enemy fire (e.g. creates, walls, doorways, etc) you will automatically stick to them; however this “auto stick” allows you to mainly focus on firing your weapon. The cover system will automatically duck in and out of cover as you blast away with the right shoulder button. You do not have to worry about pressing any other button to lean or take aim prior to firing your gun. Although these two additions seem almost too simple, the ability to add to the playability of the game is amazing and they allow you to really focus and take in everything that is happening on the screen. I applaud Bend Studios for the implementation of this type of control.

Something that really caught me off guard was how Sony implemented PSP and PS3 connectivity for this title. Resistance: Retribution is by far the best example of how a game can be intertwined between the two. If you have a copy of Resistance 2 for your PS3, you only need to put it into your console, find the Connect PSP in the options menu, connect your PSP to the PS3 using a USB cable, and make sure Resistance: Retribution is at the menu screen. By dong this you will have the ability to do two things: Infect Resistance: Retribution and Activate Resistance: Retribution Plus.

Infect Resistance: Retribution literally infects Grayson with the Chimera virus that Nathan Hale had in both console versions of the series. Not only does Grayson get some new abilities when you do this (e.g. breath underwater and regenerate health) but he also gets a spiffy new suit just like Nathan Hale wore in Resistance 2. It also opens up the magnum gun right away. Heck you may even notice a few new lines of dialog that are based on Grayson being infected. The other PS3 to PSP feature, Resistance: Retribution Plus, will let you transfer your PS3 controller’s ability to the PSP game. This now lets you play the game like a regular third person shooter using both the analog sticks of your SIXAXIS or DualShock 3. It also takes away the Aim Assist box as you will now have the ability to use a dual analog set-up. Both of these features are pretty impressive and it was nice to see that PS3 and PSP games can be connected in manner like this. It will be interesting to see if any other developers who have both console and PSP versions of a single franchise can, or even will, duplicate this experience.

It should take you anywhere from 10-15 hours to complete the single player campaign. For those looking for replay value there is a reward system that is based on skill points in each level. Here you need to complete certain objectives during specific sections of the levels (e.g. certain number of headshots or kill a specific number of ‘big’ enemies with a specific weapon only). Should you manage to complete all the objectives you can open up bonuses such as movies, music and more. This is close as you will get to the PS3 Trophy system. As with Resistance 2, there are also hidden pieces of intel throughout the game and should you find all of the pieces in each category, you unlock a weapon assigned to each one. There are three different categories.

Along with the engaging single player experience Bend Studios made sure to implement a great multiplayer experience as well via the PSP’s Wi-Fi feature. You can play both locally (ad-hoc) and online (infrastructure). Both these multiplayer set-ups are meant to be played with a maximum of eight players with up to four people on one team being assigned the role as Cloven, while the other team, again up to four players, are assigned the role the Maquis. There are five modes to play including free-for-all (deathmatch), team deathmatch, capture the flag, containment and assimilation (similar to infection matches). Each of the matches can be played on one of the five maps that are included on the UMD, and each of these is based on environments from the game. As well, you can rank up during your online time with the game, as well as earn online medals for others to see. There is also support for the PSP headset, which means you can communicate with other gamers who are playing with such. You can also taunt your fallen enemies and revive your fallen teammate during gameplay. Finally, there is also support for clans too as well as data that links to MyResistance.net. All in all the online capabilities for this portable game is quite impressive to say the least and should have lots of gamers playing online for awhile.


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