Resistance: Retribution Review

By Paul Semel - Posted Mar 16, 2009

Adam takes a look at 'Resistance: Retribution' for the Sony PlayStation Portable. Can a complex shooter work on a handheld? This X-Play Review will give you the skinny.

The Pros
  • Looks and feels like Resistance.
  • Cover and aim assist compensate for missing second stick.
  • Connecting game to Resistance 2 and a PS3 makes things even better.
The Cons
  • Lack of second stick still a problem.
  • Lack of numerous funky weapons.
  • Needless perspective change.

Much is always made about the perspective in video games. Some people prefer first-person whenever possible, while others like third better. But as you’ll see from playing Resistance: Retribution — a PSP installment of the PS3 sci-fi first-person shooter series — it doesn’t matter if you change the perspective if you don’t change the controls.

“I can learn to resist/Anything but frustration”

Resistance: Retribution ReviewSet between Resistance: Fall Of Man and Resistance 2, Retribution tells a parallel story of a British soldier named Grayson who, during the timeframe of the first game, went AWOL and on a Chimeran killing spree. Though convicted for desertion, he’s given a reprieve when he’s enlisted by a European resistance group to, well, go on another Chimeran killing spree.

The changing of the guard isn’t the only thing that differentiates Retribution from other games in the series. As we mentioned earlier, this game also swap perspectives from first to third. And yet it still uses the control scheme that’s been employed by a number of first-person shooters, including Call Of Duty: Roads To Victory and Medal Of Honor: Heroes, with the icon buttons working as a thumbstick substitute. This means that, depending on how you felt about the controls in those games, the controls in Retribution are just as good…or just as bad.

What makes Retribution different than them, however, is that compensates for its shortcoming with some interesting tricks. For starters, it has an aim-assist that will automatically snap to enemies like a really, really liberal version of Call Of Duty: World At War. And while you can switch to a manual targeting system — and will need to at certain points — this doesn’t work all that well during normal firefights because of the inaccuracy of the controls.

Retribution further counterbalances its control issues with a simple but effective cover system that lets you duck behind certain barriers. You can then aim while hiding, pulling the trigger when you’re ready to start shooting, and releasing it when you’d like to stop being shot.

But while the aim-assist and cover system help with game’s control problems, they don’t solve them. Turning around, for example, is still rough, especially when you’re being used as target practice. That said, the controls don’t completely ruin the game. Well, not for everyone. If you hated them when you played the aforementioned Call Of Duty or Medal Of Honor installments, this won’t change your mind. But if you didn’t mind them then, you won’t mind them now.

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Resistance Ain’t Futile

Resistance: Retribution ReviewThat’s because, despite all the changes, Retribution both looks, sounds, and otherwise plays like a Resistance game. The game employs the same sound effects, as well as a similar, and similarly dramatic, classic score, and while the graphics aren’t as good, of course, they are comparable and have the same style. Some may even like them better since, unlike Resistance 2, the color balance is Retribution isn’t off, needlessly dark, and in serious need of more contrast.

More importantly, it maintains the World War II first-person-shooter-with-a-sci-fi twist that made the PS3 games so much fun. The battles may not be as frantic, and your arsenal isn’t as crazy in a Ratchet & Clank-ish way (though, unlike in Resistance 2, you can carry more than two guns at a time), but this is still a solid and challenging shooter with an engaging story.

Retribution even adds to the Resistance mythos, albeit in ways we won’t spoil here. Well, except to say that if you’ve ever wondered what a lady Chimera looks like… Some of these additions even make you change your tactics, and no, that isn’t our way of revealing that there’s a Fable II-esque flirting system.

And while the game doesn’t have a co-op mode like Resistance 2, it does have some fun, and unique, competitive multiplayer modes. Besides “Free For All” (a.k.a. “Deathmatch”), “Team Deathmatch,” and “Capture The Flag,” there are two Retribution-specific modes as well: “Containment,” in which you have to capture and then overload the opposing team’s reactor, and “Assimilation,” in which The Cloven have to capture and convert members of the European resistance.

Though it all does beg the question: Why change the perspective if you’re not going to change the controls or the gameplay all that much? Especially since the aim-assist and cover system would work in first as well as it does in third.

“I swear I never had it like this/Forbidden yet I cannot resist”

Resistance: Retribution ReviewWhile Retribution is fun to play on the PSP as is, you can actually link it to a PS3 with a USB cable for some added (and in some cases, improved) fun. For starters, the two systems, you can “infect” your PSP, which (among other things we won’t spoil) swaps the heath system from a power-up one to a Call Of Duty-esque regenerative type, while also letting you use some of Resistance 2 weapons, such as the always fun HE 44 Magnum. This doesn’t change the game radically, but it is different enough that you might consider playing through twice.

Even cooler, this lets you use your PS3 controller to play Retribution which is noticeably better, especially since it remaps the controls, making them more like a hybrid of Resistance and Resistance 2. It even removes the aim assist, which makes the game a bit more challenging in a good way, while keeping the cover system intact. It helps, though, if you have a PSP you can connect to the TV. Otherwise, you have to position your PSP so you can the see the screen while keeping it connected to the PS3, which has to stay on.

“Gonna get yours /It's the big payback now”

Ultimately, Retribution doesn’t usurp the PS3 entries in this franchise, but it doesn’t undermine them either. Instead, it’s as solid a side story as God Of War: Chains Of Olympus was to that series. Though, we must admit, your enjoyment all depends on your perspective on the PSP’s ideas of FPS-style controls.

Article Written By: Paul Semel