Not long off the back of Resistance 2's Playstation 3 release at the end of last year, the Resistance franchise is still fresh in the mind of fans and Resistance Retribution is a new take on the established Playstation 3 franchise, with it being on a different format and developed by a different company.
Set in Europe, the game takes place as canon to the main storyline, and focuses on the continued fight against the Chimera following the end of Resistance: Fall of Man. This means that there is no Nathan Hale, but he is replaced by the extremely vocal James Grayson, who is a renegade British soldier. He's also joined by some characters from the original game, and this is a nice touch which helps to make fans of the original title feel at home in their new surroundings. The story-telling also returns to that seen in Resistance: Fall of Man, with Rachel Parker providing a voice-over to explain its progression. There are also some added mission briefs, which are written from the perspective of the protagonist too. All of this helps to engage the player in the story and it does a really good job.
The Playstation Portable hasn't exactly been famed for its take on first-person/third-person shooters in the past, and Resistance Retribution should go some way towards allaying the fears of sceptics. The controls may feel a bit clunky at the start, but after a while they feel perfectly natural and while there are some limitations, it makes the game feel much more accommodating. The most notable feature is probably the auto-aiming system. It's actually a very simple concept; there is a box on screen, and the face buttons are used to control Grayson's viewing window. Anything inside the box will be auto-targeted (one at a time), so the player doesn't have to worry about precise aiming. There is the option for manual aim though, and this will be necessary in some instances, but it isn't a mandatory feature and it makes the game much more accommodating, especially against hordes of enemies.
The cover system is implemented very effectively, although it isn't necessarily fool-proof. Due to the control system, the cover system is automatic and this means that if the player isn't firing a weapon and they're near some cover, Grayson should automatically crouch behind it, or put his back to a wall so attacks can be launched. Sometimes it doesn't always work and using cover doesn't make you immune from damage by any stretch of the imagination. However, the detection is fairly impressive overall and it definitely adds an element of strategy to the fights, especially due to the more traditional health system, i.e. non-regenerative. The health system is a mechanic borrowed from the start of Resistance: Fall of Man, and it's not the only element that is shared between the two games. Grayson can also carry an unlimited amount of weapons, as opposed to the two weapon system which was introduced in Resistance 2.
Graphically, the game looks very impressive, although sometimes the levels are a bit bland and don't exactly brim with character. This is mainly the case during levels where Grayson takes charge of a vehicle, but it's understandable as those sections are lot more intensive in terms of enemy numbers and even when things get particularly hectic, there is no visible slowdown. The graphics seen in the normal levels really help to add to the experience offered and this is demonstrated well by the different locals offered throughout the story. The sound design is also worth mentioning too, as it really helps to engage the player into the game. While Grayson's one-liners may be extremely cheesy, they are endearing and make the game feel more personal. Not to mention the subtle but effective score, which provides suitable accompaniment to the on-screen action.
In terms of length, the game clocks in at around 8 hours on normal difficulty, and it would have been nicer if it was a bit longer. This is mainly because it does feel more like a spin-off and not a game that's trying to pull its own weight and a bit more length could have helped to enhance more aspects of the game. It would have been nice to see some more development of the mythos, as many of the weapons are slightly modified versions of existing weapons and there are few additions to the Chimeran roster.
There is plenty of replay value with the single-player experience though, as Infected mode and the new PSP Plus help to make the gameplay fresh. Both can only be accessed if a copy of Resistance 2 is handy, and they allow the game to be experienced in a new way. Infected mode offers a slightly altered story, where Grayson is infected and joins SRPA. This means he has the amber eyes, regenerative health, and the magnum seen in Resistance 2, and different conversations with people throughout the story. PSP Plus allows the player to use a Sixaxis (Dual Shock 3) to play Retribution, and this makes the game slightly harder, while disabling the auto-aiming system. On top of this, there is also intel to collect throughout the story and skill points to unlock; both of which help to unlock new content, such as weapons and concept art.
The multiplayer mode also deserves a special mention, as it's not taken lightly in Retribution. Not only is there a full-on clan system, but there are also ranks and medals which can be unlocked by performing certain feats within matches. There does seem to be quite a steep learning curve, but practice makes perfect and it will certainly give players a new perspective on how to use weapons effectively.
Having previously seen both instalments of the Resistance franchise developed for the Playstation 3, it's nice to see it branch out to the Playstation Portable in what's not just a simple cash-in. Retribution offers a deep and rewarding experience, and while more could probably have been done to make it a full-on instalment into the franchise, Resistance Retribution brings as much of the atmosphere and gameplay over as it can, and it certainly pushes the PSP.