2009 seemed to be the year of bringing PlayStation 3 properties to the PlayStation Portable. There was Little Big Planet and Motorstorm, but first was the Resistance franchise. Changing things up by playing in a third-person perspective, Sony Bend, makers of both Syphon Filter PSP games has created yet another exciting PSP installment for owners of the handheld to go ga-ga over. The result of their determination is Resistance: Retribution, and boy, is it good.
Resistance: Retribution takes place between the original Resistance and Resistance 2. The European continent is nearly controlled solely by the monstrous Chimera. You play as James Grayson, a soldier who helplessly watched his brother become converted into a Chimera. Now donning his brother's jacket, Grayson vows to put an end to the Chimera's conversion centers by destroying each and every one even if it kills him. The story of Retribution plays out in still-frame cutscenes narrated by one of Grayson's superiors. There's enough twists and turns to make the story bearable and even a bit intriguing. You can't help but root for Grayson and his abrasive personality.
The story plays out through over twenty missions of varying length and difficulty. Unlike the console versions, Resistance: Retribution plays out in a third-person perspective. Gameplay consists of running through hallways and rooms, finding cover, blasting baddies from cover, and moving onto the next firefight. This is just as simplified explanation of what goes on in Retribution as there's plenty of variety in the gameplay. From swimming in underwater facilities to mashing the X button to pull down levers to taking control of mega mechs and gatling guns, Resistance: Retribution keeps players on their toes.
James Grayson isn't alone in his mission thankfully as he has enough firepower and health packs lying around levels to do in the Chimera's fierce forces. Each weapon has a primary and secondary fire function. The Storm Rifle doubles as a grenade launcher while the machine gun Razor gets its name from launching a giant pulsating blade at enemies. Other weapons return from the Resistance franchise such as the sniper rifle Fareye which can slow down time for marksmen to get their perfect shot, the LAARK rocket launcher can take down larger enemies with ease, and the Auger's bullets can shoot through walls and objects, even creating a bullet barrier for a limited time. Case in point, if you want high-powered weaponry, you'll get it in Resistance: Retribution.
And Grayson will need all these weapons to take out the multitude of enemies the Chimera throw at him. There's giant beasts with rocket launchers, small jumping creatures known as leapers which will plant themselves on Grayson's face and attack, Chimera that utilize a multitude of weaponry such as Augers and chainguns, hovering robots that aren't so shy about shooting at James, female Chimera that will march towards James and explode when they get close enough to him, as well as massive boss creatures for our hero to take on. These boss battles occur in expansive arena settings sometimes pitting James against two large creatures or machines at a time.
Controlling James Grayson is a breeze. You use the analog nub to move around and the face buttons to look around-- sort of like a dual-analog control setup but not quite. The d-pad is used to manually aim, select weapons, and access many input sensitive commands such as pressing switches and pulling levers. The cover system works quite well. You just run or walk up to a wall or section of fence, and you automatically cover behind it. Unlike something like Gears of War, there's no accidentally running up to cover when you don't want to. The game's much smarter about that. Aim assist is used, and it's based on the enemy you're looking straight at. It helps, and it definitely does not detract from the experience at all. Overall, the controls feel tight and responsive for sure.
The single-player portion of Resistance: Retribution takes about six or seven hours to complete. There's multiple difficulties some for novices and some for veteran Resistance players. In addition to these modes, there's several intel hidden throughout the game's levels placed in out-of-the-way locations. Collecting these will unlock new weapons to use such as a powerful magnum with exploding bullets. Each level also has three skill points to earn. These range from destroying three enemies with one flammable barrel to surviving a boss battle for a set period of time. These bonuses extend the playtime of the game by a wide margin, so there's plenty of content in this game.
What also extends the playtime is the terrific multi-player mode. You can choose from one of three modes with up to seven other players fighting alongside you or against you. There's your standard deathmatch mode, but there's also two unique modes. The first is where you capture the opposition's node while protecting your own for points. The other is a seven on one engagement where one player is a powerful Cloven and the others are on the Marquis side (the heroic side). The object is to eliminate all of one side of the team. The catch is that when a Cloven kills someone, that player also turns into a Cloven. Lag is nothing but an imaginary word when playing online-- it just doesn't happen. Add in the fact that everyone has a mic to chat with online, and you have some excellent online multi-player for a handheld.
Resistance: Retribution is one of my the most technically impressive PSP games ever put together. The framerate is solid, the characters look well done and animate beautifully, and the levels are designed brilliantly. The music on the other hand is mostly forgettable, but the voice acting steps up and is wonderful. You might recognize James Grayson's voice actor as a little known character known as Travis Touchdown from No More Heroes. Both characters have the mouth of a sailor.
Overall. Resistance: Retribution isn't just one of the best PSP games of 2009, it's one of the best experiences on the PlayStation Portable completely. It handles well, it plays great, and it's full of interesting set pieces and dynamic action with a wonderful story to boot. Let's not leave out the crazy fun multi-player either. Those looking for some excellent exciting third-person shooting gameplay on a handheld should definitely check out Resistance: Retribution.
[SuperPhillip Says: 9.25/10]