Resistance: Retribution for the PSP (PlayStation(R) Portable) is a rated M for Mature 3rd person shooter developed by geniuses at Bend Studio who handled the award winning Syphon Filter series on the PSP. I'm here to tell you this, basically, if you hear Bend Studios is making pretty much anything for the PSP, just go and get it knowing you're getting your money's worth if you like the genre of game they happen to be making.
For the uninitiated, the Resistance series started on the PS3 (PlayStation 3). Around the late 1940's, an experiment deep in the heart of Siberia went terribly wrong and unleashed the chimeran species from wherever the experiments were being handled. Within weeks, Siberia was overrun, within months; Asia was theirs; within a year 95% of the European and Asian continent were controlled by the chimera. With England on the verge of falling, America sends some backup, which starts "Resistance: Fall of Man" on the PS3. Resistance: Retribution (RR) happens weeks after the end of the 1st game and follows a new anti-hero.
In Resistance: Retribution, you follow former British Marine James Grayson, who has not only seen his brother turned into a chimera (think "Aliens", but created out of converted humans who have pretty much overrun all of Asia and Europe and you have a good idea that they're really bad news) but also had to kill his brother due to the conversion. His loss prompts him to go AWOL and begin his personal vengeance against the chimera conversion facilities across Europe which converts humans into the chimeran species. When recaptured by the British, he is court marshaled and sentenced to death row when the French resistance offers him the ability to return to his vengeance in exchange for his knowledge of the chimeran facilities. Which by now, you would understand makes him very happy to oblige.
The story and presentation are top notch right down to the voice acting of the main characters: James is headstrong and independent and won't take crap from anyone and is fiercely loyal to his teammates, even if he knows he doesn't really need them and the acting comes through. Raine Bouchard, the French resistance member who requested his reprieve is sassy, determined and ready to solve the mystery of the conversion process. Her voice actor portrayed her strength and determination perfectly. In general, I thought the acting was some of the best I've heard on a PSP game. The presentation, from the increased detail on the environments, to the characters and enemies not only brought the game to life, but also kept the feel of the series intact. If you are a fan of Resistance on your PS3 and you have a PSP, get this game.
The controls were rebuilt from their experience on the Syphon Filter games and it is incredibly easy to get into. Within a large targeting window, you will automatically lock on to any enemy in that area. If there are multiple enemies (almost always!) you can quickly switch between them with a single button tap. Add to that the intuitive cover system (just walk up to any waist high object or ant full height corner and you automatically "snap-to" the object) and easy fire from cover mechanics and you have a game that can get pretty intense. Even though you can automatically lock on to any character in your generous viewfinder, the enemy AI in normal mode will usually outnumber you on average 3 to one and laying down heavy fire. Cover, timing, precision and lot of ammunition are the names of the game here.
The game also does it's best to keep changing the pace of the game to stop it from being a straight run and gun fest. Simply holding fire, running to the next point and holding fire would get a little boring after a while. They place elements where you really have to go into 1st person mode for precise headshots of a character that cannot be targeted with your auto-lock. You'll have to fight mechanized robots that can only be damaged with heavy gauge weapons, you'll have underwater gunfights with water based chimera (while having to watch your oxygen meter so you don't drown), and that's just the 1st chapter! There are even moments where in the background, a chimera will run by, or something will happen that as a gamer, if you caught it, will make you say "what was that?" Sure enough, James will notice some of those same peripheral moments and comment on it also. Pretty neat.
Resistance: Retribution includes several multiplayer game types, so you can get your Retribution on up to 8 people in game and have online and local area fun. But Bend Studio didn't stop there; they created some special Resistance only features that take effect if you connect your PSP to your copy of Resistance 2 running on the PS3. The Resistance Connect feature adds a few new twists to the PSP game. For starters, once connected you'll have the ability to control the game with the PS3 SIXAXIS controller. Playing the game with 2 analog sticks removes the auto targeting system from the PSP game and switches to manual control of both your movement and targeting. The game becomes more challenging because of 2nd analog stick; an interesting choice of control to give the player. Resistance 2 also has the ability to "Infect" the PSP, which, on your next play through, shows James as being infected with the chimeran virus, just like Nathan Hale, the Hero of both PS3 games. While infected, they are resistant and are fighting for their humanity. In the PSP infected game, James acquires new clothes, a new PS3 only weapon and, surprisingly, a new "infected" storyline.
Really, that was a nice touch. The extra mode of making him infected changes the game play also, as his health regenerates as he takes cover, but the enemy is much more aggressive to this. The extra clothes and new game play would have been fine. But to go the extra yard and create a new slightly different storyline to match and have it fully acted goes back to the high level of presentation and polish that this game delivers.
So what's wrong with it? Not much. But, with Bend Studio's pedigree, I'm not surprised. While the aiming control can be tweaked to your liking, some hardcore gamers will not find it to be quick enough. James movement seems a bit sluggish at times, and while there is almost no loading through each playable section, loading the sections can take some time. But waiting a minute to load to not see a load screen for 10 minutes is a more than acceptable tradeoff. If you're not one for profanity, "too effing bad!" James Grayson curses like a drunken sailor, on shore leave, at a swearing contest. OK, not that bad, but you get the idea. I personally see that as being James' personality and his voice actor brought it out perfectly, so I enjoyed it, but I'm just throwing it out there for you. I would have personally liked to see more of the PSP/PS3 connectivity extras. Not many games utilize it and it would have loved to see whet else Bend Studio could have done with it.
All in all, I'm really nitpicking over a game that is honestly one of the best PSP games to come out this year. If you haven't played your PSP in a while either, I suggest you dust it off, charge it up and get ready for some really, really great games that are going to hit the PSP this year.
So what about my co-worker of a friend from earlier? He showed me an iPhone game which also just released. While that was great for the iPhone, I just laughed and told him exactly what I just told you in the above paragraph. And then ordered my drink and had a great night with a great game and some great friends.
Alejandro's GameCore Review Equation: (Intermediate) Challenging + Action Packed + LOTS to Shoot + Fun * Best of PSP [*extra features if you have a PS3 & Copy of Resistance 2] = Excellent Buy
Produced by Alejandro K. Brown