The Resistance series has been good for Sony. Not the big seller that Halo was for Microsoft or most of the stuff made by Nintendo, but the series started well and continues to do well with each game. Resistance 2 made the biggest noise last year being done so well that it became one of the best games of the year. In Resistance: Retribution, the series take a side trip, showing another part of the epic war between humans and Chimera.
I'm going to make this review very short for some people. If you've played either Syphon Filter games on the PSP, you'll recognize the system that this game uses. In fact, it's almost exactly the as the SF games which is not surprising since it's made by the same company, but it's a little upsetting. As good as the SF games are on the PSP, surpassing expectations for the game becoming one of the most well reviewed series for a portable system, the idea of Resistance: Retribution being a clear palette swap of the SF games is disappointing. For the fans of SF on the PSP, you'll enjoy the game; fans of Resistance will enjoy this game; action fans will enjoy this game; those who can't stand FPS games on the PSP, the SF series on the PSP, or Resistance, should stay the hell away.
Resistance's storyline takes place during the 50s in an alternative world in which the world has changed after World War I. In Russia, experiments were done creating a species that rose up to begin the destruction of mankind. Realizing this threat, nations around the world have come together to fight the Chimera threat. Resistance 1 & 2 feature Sgt. Nathan Hale who's been the world's greatest weapon against the threat.
In Resistance: Retribution, the focus goes to the British soldiers that interacted with Sgt. Hale with the hero being Lt. James Grayson of the British Armed Forces. After suffering a nervous breakdown because of having to kill his brother, Grayson goes on a Chimera killing rampage, deserting the BAF leading to him being prosecuted. While awaiting execution, Grayson is visited by a European resistance group call the "Marquis" who are fighting the Chimera throughout Europe.
Those unfamiliar was the way FPS games work on the PSP, it's safe to say it takes some getting used to. With the lack of dual analog, controlling the camera is limited to the four face buttons and the movement of the character is done with the left analog nub. Is this is as cumbersome as it sounds? Damn right it is, but it works. To help with this unique setup, an auto aim is there to let you take down enemies with little use of the buttons. However, in sniping situations or for anytime you want to get a headshot, you can make the quick switch to manual aim.
Shooting is done with the right shoulder button and the left shoulder button is for secondary attacks. Each weapon in the Resistance games has a secondary attack varying in their function from being a grenade launcher, a tracing bullet, or even a temporary shield. This allows for every weapon to be worth using.
Being that the Syphon Filter engine is being used for the game that means a cover system also transfers over. Using cover is simple, but effective. Just get up close to a wall, box, or some form of cover you can stand/crouch behind, and you'll automatically go into cover mode. Behind cover, you can pop-out and take some shots at the enemy who will do the exact same thing to you.
Throughout the game's levels, there will be various objectives to be completed throughout. These objectives are pretty straightforward consisting of protecting a NPC during a part of the level, destroy certain structures, or kill some specific enemies. Boss fights are similar to the other Resistance games in that you'll traditionally fight a big freakin' boss. In some cases, you're on your own to deal with the 20 foot boss, but sometimes, the NPC will help...just a little.
Resistance: Retribution adds a new aspect to PSP gaming that has been done on the consoles. That being skill points aka achievements. Within a level, skill points can be earned in a variety of ways from taking no hits from certain enemies or killing multiple enemies at once. Just like achievements, there's no real point to them except satisfy your inner OCDness. Another very unique feature is the special modes that are unlocked by connecting the PSP to your PS3 with a copy of Resistance 1 or 2 in it. Having Resistance 2 will unlock Infected mode making Grayson infected in the same way Hale is in the game. The game changes the Resistance: Retribution campaign mode a little with Grayson being a little stronger, access to a new weapon, new outfit, and some changes in dialogue and cutscenes. Plus mode is unlocked by using Resistance 1 on your PS3, and lets you use a PS3 controller to play through the game. Depending on which version PSP you have, you may have to play on the PSP using the controller, or if you have it, connect it to the TV and play the game on there. Naturally the game has become easier so to counter that this mode increases the difficulty of the game.
If there anything that can be said about the Syphon Filter game is that they push the power of the PSP to its limits. It's a good thing that Resistance: Retribution uses the same engine because it makes for a good looking game. I know I know I know, I'm a goddamn broken record but if you've played the two SF games and this game, you would say the same damn thing. Textures on PSP games are still lackluster making characters look a little plain, but having a game that's on par with most PS2 games in the palm of your hands is still an impressive sight.
If there's a point where Resistance: Retribution sets itself apart from the "other" games series that I've mentioned countless of times throughout this review, won't mention it at least in this paragraph, it would be the score. Whether it's cinematic sequences or battle music, there's a great orchestra piece to go with it. This goes hand-in-hand with the idea of the game showing an alternative world in which the greatest threat was not Nazis but rather aliens. Voice acting is right on par with the other Resistance games although Grayson has probably a much bigger potty mouth than Sgt. Hale from the other games.
Online play uses the PSP Wi-Fi setup to play against others around the country in 8 player matches. Consisting of 5 game modes, the traditional matches are there such at deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag. The two unique matches are Containment and Assimilation. Containment is about fighting off waves of enemies while defending coolant nodes with the winning team being the one that defends their node the longest. Assimilation pits 7 Marquis players against 1 Chimera in which the Chimera cannot be killed so it's up to the other players to see who can survive the longest and win.
For those that made it through the review ignoring my second paragraph on how this game was Syphon Filter with a Resistance palette, I hope that you found the info you wanted. In the end, if there was one game that was worth the keeping the engine for, it would be the SF series on the PSP because they've done everything right for the system. Lacking dual analog stick is tough to get around but the developer has found a way to make it work on a portable. They've not only shown how well the presentation of a game can be on the PSP, but they've also made games that simply play well on a portable. Yet, the game still does take a hit for being too much like the SF games. It's one thing to share the same gameplay or graphics engine, but if everything is so damn alike, it shows more of a laziness on the developer to make the game unique from the other. Those that enjoy the Resistance series, or a good shooter game for that matter, will want to make sure to pick up this game.