I’ve owned a PSP for probably more than a decade. I have around 80 titles for the platform (I know, madness) and I’m still playing games that I haven’t touched before. What I consider the 2 best action games in the platform have been in my collection for quite a while, but is now when I’ve played them back-to-back. I already talked about (and praised) The 3rd Birthday. Now, it’s the time for Resistance Retribution. Maybe is not as good as the former on gameplay, but overall has nothing to envy of the Square-Enix title.
Resistance Retribution, the Chimera invasion in 3rd person
Resistance Retribution is a spin-off of the main series for PS3. While those games are first person shooters, the responsible studio decided to move on to a third person perspective. The game is still a pure shooter, but it puts some emphasis on the use of covers. Somewhat similar to what we’ve seen in Gears of War or Uncharted. The cover system is automatic, meaning that we don’t need to press any buttons, the character will automatically hide when we approach a cover.
The decision to move the game from a FPS to a TPS made sense due to BEND Studio’s experience in the platform. They developed both Syphon Filter games for PSP, 2 of the best TPS’s in the platform. In fact, this game feels like a natural evolution of what we saw in those games.
Europe is under siege
The game makes an effort to tell an interesting story. We will visit Rotterdam, Luxenburg and a couple of places in France, including a devastated Paris that has become the central base for the Chimera. The plot is interesting and the main story line is well narrated. It’s important to note that Retribution’s story is placed between Resistance Fall of Men (first game) and Resistance 2, and it works as a nexus between them.
My problem with the game is that characters and dialog are quite poor. The main character – Lt. James Grayson – is a maniac (and an ***hole). He is not likable at all and that affects the game negatively. The other characters are a bunch of walking cliches and they’re not likable either. Obviously, if the characters are like that, the dialogs can’t work.
Shooting our way to Paris
The game is quite good when it comes to gameplay. It’s obvious that BEND had a lot of experience creating third person shooters, as the control it’s really solid and takes PSP’s weaknesses into consideration.
The best example is with the aiming. The game makes use of a semi-automatic aiming. There is a big rectangle (about 3/5ths of the screen space) that works as aim. When an enemy gets inside that aiming area, the auto-aiming will take effect. We can change to manual aim by pressing the up arrow, but why would we do that? The PSP lacks a second analog joystic, making aiming difficult. Well, the game forces you to use it. There is an specific type of enemy that walks to you and explodes and it can be killed only by headshots. Is not easy to accomplish that with the autoaim, so we will change to manual. But wait, this enemies are usually not alone and you’ll have to change between aiming modes fast and be efficient in order to survive.
Voilà, the lack of second joystic is not a weakness anymore, it is part of a game mechanic.
The game has a diverse cast of enemies, each of them with different mechanics that will make us use different strategies. This combines really well with the different weapons that Grayson can use. There are 8 weapons in total, one of them pretty original. The way we use and combine this weapons is key to be successful in combat. We can’t just enter a room shooting without thinking, we need to plan and react quickly to what happens on the screen or we’ll get stuck easily. In the bosses it’s specially easy to die, and using the right weapons is a must to kill them.
I have the feel that the game starts a bit slow but starts to really shine throughout the second chapter. Level design is great, and there is a fair variety of situations for a TPS game. With that said, the game is quite long (and difficult) and I think it can take between 10-12 hours to finish.
A portable blockbuster
Resistance Retribution not only plays great, it also looks fantastic. The game makes great use of PSP’s hardware, and it’s no doubt one of the best looking games in the platform. It could have shined even more with a different art direction and color palette, but I understand is part of the series’ identity.
There is something strange about soundtrack. Melodies and orchestration are great, but the influences of cinema is so obvious that it creates a constant feel of deja vu. It specially takes a lot from John Williams’ music, and you can hear some of his trademark sounds all over the place. It’s not a bad thing, but it is there.
A PSP must have
Overall, I think Resistance Retribution is a must have for Playstation Portable but we can’t forget that nowadays there are better TPS in other platforms. This game can’t play the card of originality and personality that other games can (like the mentioned The 3rd Birthday). That makes it difficult to recommend but it is undoubtedly one of the best games in PSP’s catalog.