Frankenreview: Resistance: Retribution

Frankenreview: Resistance: Retribution

The fight between humanity and the Chimera spills over onto the PlayStation Portable next week with the release of Resistance: Retribution.

Developed by Sony Bend, the developers behind the Syphon Filter series, Retribution follows the story of former British Royal Marine James Grayson in the wake of the bombing of the Chimeran tower in London at the end of the original game. Players control Grayson from a third-person perspective as he seeks revenge for the gruesome death of his brother, uncovering a much larger Chimeran plot in the process.

Does Resistance: Retribution kick off the rebirth of the PSP, or do owners of Sony's handheld still have a while to wait? The fate of humanity lies in the hands of game critics.

Resistance: Retribution is the start of Sony's surge; the first of a planned wave of blockbuster brands that the company hopes will make 2009 an "exciting year for PSP". It's not an especially auspicious start - more of a whimper than a bang. It's not that Retribution is a bad game, because it's not. But it's by far the weakest game in the Resistance series so far, and it singularly fails to do for the PSP what its bigger, high-def brothers did for the PlayStation 3; it's difficult to imagine anybody buying a new PSP off the back of anything other than the success of Resistance: Retribution's flashier forebears.

The grizzled and battle-hardened Grayson lacks the stoic silence of Sgt. Hale (the hero from the two PS3 iterations), instead cracking out bad one-liners in a overwhelming cockney accent that sounds like Jason Statham woke up on the wrong side of the bed. While it does provide some cool backstory elements that explain the nature of the Cloven, the story and dialogue aren't really the game's strong suits.

...there are challenging parts to Retribution...but I never really felt like the enemies were offering up that much of a fight in Retribution. Hell, there were times when a Boiler (a Chimeran female whose head explodes if she gets too close to you) would pop up and scare the hell out of me and the final mission has two tunnels that are literally filled with every enemy you've faced and very few health packs, but I always felt like I could get through it with ease. Obviously, you could crank the difficulty up to try and get a better challenge out of the title, but even then it didn't seem like insurmountable odds.

Resistance: Retribution is one of the best-looking games on the PSP with large, detailed environments, great lighting effects, and smartly-designed textures that do a great job of masking low-poly character models. The impressive audio design features voice acting that's on par with the console iterations of the franchise. The orchestral soundtrack is fantastic during gripping action sequences, and haunting Russian folk tunes clue you in to nearby secrets. This is definitely a game you'll want to play with headphones plugged in.

PGNx Media
Overall, it looks like Sony Bend did it again with Resistance: Retribution...The visuals are sharper, the levels are larger and the controls are streamlined. Add to this a 10-hour singleplayer campaign (and another, remixed 10-hour campaign) plus one of the deepest multiplayer feature sets on the PSP and you have one of the system's killer apps. Sony Bend was able to bring Resistance to the PSP in a way that takes advantage of the system's strengths and feels like it's own game in the Resistance universe instead of a dumbed down version of the console versions. Man, UK reviewers are hard to please, aren't they?

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