CES 09 Hands-on / Resistance Retribution

I don’t want to say the PSP is lacking the “games I want to play” department, but the PSP is lacking in the… never mind. Lucky for me, and maybe some of you, Sony has a few offerings coming this year that may be worthy of time theft. Resistance: Retribution, from Sony Bend, is one such title that may have you giving those emulators a rest. Oh, like I don’t know what you do.

We’ve talked a little about the title before, but for those in the cheap seats, it’s a third-person shooter set in-between Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2 that follows a new protagonist, James Grayson, who is out to ruin the Chimera’s day with lots of guns. Now that we’ve broken the ice, let’s take a little dip in the pool.

Resistance: Retribution plays very much like the studio’s Syphon Filter games on PSP, which means it plays awesomely. Movement is handled via the analog nipple, while the face buttons handle aiming. However, Sony Bend has made some tweaks to their formula by adding an aim assist, to make combat easier to handle without dumbing down the difficulty, as well as an auto-cover system that sticks Grayson to walls and objects without having to deal with button presses. The system works extremely well and doesn’t become a hindrance to running and gunning. The experience is extremely solid and makes use of the PSP’s control layout effectively.

While that’s all well and good, there’s another aspect to the game that’s pretty different: PSP Plus. What this means is if you own a copy of Resistance 2 for the PS3 you can hook the PSP up via USB and unlock an “Infected” mode of the game, which gives you different abilities, new weapons and a slightly altered storyline. You’re not only able to play Resistance: Retribution on your TV (AV cables required), but also control the game via DualShock 3, complete with an expanded control scheme and rumble support. While it’s a very cool feature that put a smile on my face, it’s not all gumdrops and teddy bears.

Playing with this functionality is both kinda cool (DualShock 3 control is excellent) and kind of odd. Graphically, the game suffers when fed to a television. What is crisp, clean and an absolute treat for the eyes on the PSP’s screen, is rather rough whilst exported to the big screen. You are able to use the DS3 without the game running on your TV, but without a stand for the PSP, it’s pretty much an exercise in gymnastics to play properly. There’s also the business of it defeating the portableness of it all. However, despite the glaring issues, it’s very cool to see connectivity between a big, bad console and its portable counterpart go a little outside the box to explore some slappy new ideas. If only some other companies would do such things — looking at you Nintendo.

In the end, I came away from Resistance: Retribution rather impressed. The game does justice to its big brothers in keeping with the series’ hectic, action-packed roots, without sacrificing the experience for small screen playability. While the PSP Plus functionality may feel a little strange, it doesn’t hurt the core of the product. It’ll surely be one to keep an eye on when it hits shelves this March.