Adam Ghiggino
19 Mar, 2009

Resistance: Retribution Review

PSP Review | The pièce de résistance?
The PSP has a reputation these days of receiving sequels, prequels and mid-quels to just about every successful PlayStation brand-related franchise. Final Fantasy, God of War and Killzone have all had successful instalments on the handheld console, which expanded on their respective universes in different and interesting ways. Now, here comes Resistance: Retribution, set between the PlayStation 3 flagship titles of Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2, and developed by the blokes behind the Syphon Filter series at Sony Bend. While some things have changed, and the perspective has been brought back from first-person to third-person, the game has admirably kept the epic scope of the series on the handheld platform. But does Resistance: Retribution continue the fine tradition set by Insomniac's home console series, or does it try to do too much on Sony's little machine?

Resistance: Retribution eschews the series' previous protagonist, American soldier Nathan Hale, and puts you in the shoes of James Grayson from the British forces, and his trials and tribulations in the war against the mysterious hybrid race known as the 'Chimera'. After witnessing his brother's conversion into a Chimera and being forced to kill him, Grayson deserts the army to take out Chimeran conversion centres personally. Unfortunately, this act lands him on death row, where he is rescued by Raine Bouchard from the European Maquis resistance movement. The Chimera are developing a new kind of conversion centre, and seeing as Grayson seems to be an expert at making them go boom, he's given a second chance to redeem himself by fighting with the Maquis in Europe.

It's a setup that allows you to fight in new territory, seeing as previous games have covered England and the USA, and James Grayson definitely has more personality than the usually-silent Hale. We're not sure if this was the intention, but he's so completely over-the-top with hostility towards the Chimera, the army, the French, women, and everything else in between, that it goes all the way past being grating and comes back around to being awesome. Using both pre-rendered and in-game cutscenes, as well as voiced-over slideshows reminiscent of the original game, the story is definitely front and center this time around. It may be straightforward, but that's probably what the series needed at this point.

"I'm James Grayson, b****." He actually says this, in-game.

"I'm James Grayson, b****." He actually says this, in-game.
If you've played the Syphon Filter series on PSP, or any of the FPS attempts on the console, you'll be familiar with the control scheme of Retribution. Replicating the standard FPS home console controls, you use the left analog stick to strafe and the face buttons to look around. Of course, since the face buttons don't provide analog control, your targeting control is quite stiff. How Sony Bend have gotten around this problem is by introducing a 'targeting box' which occupies a large portion in the middle of the screen. Essentially, any enemies which are inside this box are automatically locked-onto, and you can then fire at them without having to make any further adjustments. It works very well, although obviously it does simplify the experience. However, there are enemies which do require fine tuning of your aim, but thankfully their vulnerable body parts are so swollen that its quite easy to hit them with the control set-up.

The biggest addition to the game, which is something that previous Resistance games did not focus on, is cover. Grayson will automatically lock on to any cover which is immediately in front of him, and it's often vital to do so in firefights with Hybrids and other weapon-toting critters. Occasionally you can dodge fire from units such as the airborne Drones, but for the other 90% of the time you'll want to be behind something. This is where the game could easily slip into boring repetition, as the simple mechanics of being behind cover boil down to you doing nothing but tapping the fire button at the right time to pop in and out of cover. Fortunately, as the game progresses, you'll find it harder to rely on a single piece of cover, as they become destructible and as enemies begin to flood you from all angles. You'll need to adapt to each situation and use all of the weapons at your disposal. Sections involving swimming and piloting a mech (a gimmick which seems mandatory in franchise sequels these days, not looking at anyone F.E.A.R. 2 and Killzone 2) also help to break up the standard shooting sections.

Clash of the Titans.

Clash of the Titans.
Speaking of weapons, the Resistance series has been especially well-known for its inventive firearms, and somewhat disappointingly what's here isn't vastly different to what's been presented in past titles. You'll still have the standard human Carbine assault rifle (now known as a Storm Rifle), and the human-engineered version of the Chimera's Bullseye, now known as a Razor. Thankfully, they have been changed up a little, as just like in past games every gun has an alternate firing mode for extra-crazy results. Interestingly they've given the Razor a different alternate fire mode than the Bullseye, as it now has an overpowered charge-up shot which ricochets off walls and is capable of taking out several enemies at once. It's not always practical, but it'll save your bacon a surprising number of times, making it your default weapon of choice.

We haven't even started to cover the incredible number of extras present in the game. Off the bat, if you're in possession of a PlayStation 3 and a copy of Resistance 2 you're in for a treat, as the games can link-up with each other to unlock new content. Essentially, your copy of Resistance 2 can 'infect' Resistance: Retribution's campaign mode, changing key moments in the story and giving you access to weapons from the PlayStation 3 title. In this changed story, Grayson is infected by the Chimeran virus, much like Nathan Hale before him, giving him glowing red eyes. What's even cooler is that characters and events in the game react accordingly, which gives great incentive to play through the game a second time to see the changed storyline. Annoyingly you lose the infection when you quit the game, which means you'll have to stay the course if you want to see how the mode plays out.

You can also activate a 'Plus' mode through Resistance 2 which allows you to use your DualShock 3 controller to control the game. This takes away the targeting box and leaves you to aim by yourself, making the game a fair bit harder. Again, this adds a lot of replay value to the game, although whether or not you have access to it depends on whether you have a PlayStation 3. Aside from these two modes, there are also intel files to collect in all the levels revealing entries in Grayson's journal. There are also 'Skill Points' which can be unlocked, much like achievements, for accomplishing various challenges. Of course, there's also a multiplayer mode, but to be honest it doesn't offer anything vastly different than what you've seen before. For what it's worth, it is pretty fun with its eight player matches, and has an interesting medal system if you're into that sort of thing. For a handheld game, it's impressive what they've managed to squeeze in.

Red Ring of Death.

Red Ring of Death.
The CGI cut-scenes in the game are well-made and fluid, while the in-game cut-scenes are good for a PSP game. This is mainly due to reasonably detailed character models, although the game will occasionally wow you with the large scope of a location, and some impressive lighting in the outdoors areas. Unfortunately, some of the locations in the game are also quite dark and murky, which is never a good match for a handheld title that's meant to be played on the move. The voice acting is well done, although it relies heavily on stereotypes, from stiff-upper-lipped British to charming French ladies. The real star of the presentation is the superb orchestral soundtrack, which provides some tense in-game music as well as some strong themes.

Fans needn't worry, as Resistance: Retribution is a success on two fronts. As a side-story in the Resistance franchise, it's a well developed addition that captures the universe perfectly. And as a game on a handheld console, it plays incredibly well and includes a bucketload of content. In the best home console single-player games, you always feel like you're constantly advancing, moving from unique situation to situation and never being hindered by filler. Somehow, Resistance: Retribution manages to capture this feeling on a handheld, and as a result you'll find that there's a heap of fun to be had with lovable grinch James Grayson and his band of wacky Maquis.
The Score
Resistance Retribution combines winning gameplay with a rollercoaster-ride of a campaign, and adds a bunch of replay value in to boot.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Resistance: Retribution Content

Check out Resistance: Retribution
11 Feb, 2009 New screens from New York.
Resistance: Retribution Preview
06 Jan, 2009 The resistance goes portable.
TGS 2008: Resistance: Retribution media
11 Oct, 2008 Seven screens direct from Japan.
5 years ago
Good review. Been playing the demo, awesome game!! Better than the PS3 experience to be honest.
5 years ago
Phreakuency wrote
Good review. Been playing the demo, awesome game!! Better than the PS3 experience to be honest.
Whatever - RE/RE2 on the PS3 are awesome. I'm not denying this is a great game but the big brothers are still #1 in my opinion.
5 years ago
This game is brilliant, loving every minute of it. As stated, the cut scenes dazzle and the gameplay is solid. Sony Bend have delivered!

RR will proudly go next to GoW:CoO as another great PSP game
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    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  26/03/2009 (Confirmed)
  Sony Computer Entertainment
  Action Adventure
Year Made:

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