Resistance: Retribution Review: More Action Than Shooter

In Resistance: Retribution, gamers return to the world of the Chimera invasion, guiding a disgraced Royal Marine as he fights to save Europe's last bastion for humanity.

The game, set between the PlayStation 3's Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2, makes another attempt to turn the fast-paced, controller-heavy shooter genre into something enjoyable on a portable platform. With just one analog stick available on the PSP, Resistance: Retribution compensates by taking most of the aiming away from gamers, instead focusing on the action.

Can a third-person shooter with auto-aiming be any fun? Let's see.

Loved
Solid Action-Shooter Blend: Resistance: Retribution is not a shooter. And that's a good thing. Sure it has elements of a shooter built into it. You point and you shoot. But instead of a game built around a player's ability to accurately deliver bursts of pinpoint fire into a target, Retribution's auto-assist system takes over most of the aiming, allowing you to instead concentrate on tactics, cover and weapon selection, making for a playable and enjoyable game.

Rich Multiplayer Support: Multiplayer in Retribution is surprisingly robust, offering up five game play modes and, most importantly, the ability to turn aim assist off for hardcore shooter matches. I found the online play to be mostly lag free and much more enjoyable than I expected.

PlayStation 3 Add-Ons: If you own Resistance 2, you can plug your PSP into your PS3 to unlock to interesting modes for Retribution. The PSP Plus mode allows you to play the game with a PS3 controller, though it forces you to stay tethered to the console. While the Infection mode gives you a chance to play through the game with an infected lead character and new weapon.

Intense Pacing: Retribution is a far-reaching, almost over-reaching title for the PlayStation Portable, delivering an experience that never seems to let up until the game is over. I actually found myself pausing the game at times to prepare for an expected onslaught.

Diverse Settings: Retribution has you climbing all over the game's many settings. You go under, through and around Luxembourg, Paris, Rotterdam, Warsaw and Bonn and will even do your fair share of swimming and a bit of alien architecture spelunking.

Eclectic Enemies: There's quite a wide variety of enemies in the game, from creatures that have to be headshot before they explode, to the Resistance-mainstay Chimeran. But what I like best about Retribution is the game's willingness to throw its ever expanding menagerie at you almost every level. The combination of different attack methods and tactics gives the game some much needed challenge.

Hated
Complex Controls: It's a shooter-derivative on a portable, so there are bound to be issues. While most of the control mainstays work fine in the game, doing things like zooming in to manually target or swapping weapons quickly can lead to some death by confusion.

Slow Grayson: One of my biggest frustrations with the game is how slowly character lead James Grayson sidesteps and "runs". It's expected that the lead in a game like this should be agile, so dying because he can't seem to get his feet under him can be annoying.

Horrid Writing: The dialog for the game is atrocious. It's not just seemingly out of character, out of sync with the situation, but many of the things that come out of the cast of Retribution's mouth are out of character for the entire decade in which the game is set. Worse still the plot is so muddled, so anchored down with relationships no one cares about and Machiavellian-motives never fully explained that it's worth playing the game with the sound muted.

Taking away the need to aim in a third-person shooter is quite a risk, but Sony Bend recognized, I think, the fact that shooters on portables just don't seem to work right. Instead of trying to come up with a marginal system for aiming and moving, they threw the whole thing out and delivered a hybrid that's more action game than shooter. And it works for me. Sure there are times when the game was a bit too easy, but that's something easily fixed with tweaked AI and enemy count. What matters most is that, with some exception, I found myself struggling more with the enemy than the controls. And that's a rare thing in portable shooters.

Despite its shortcomings, Resistance: Retribution is worth picking up. The game delivers a hefty 10 or so hours of play, not counting the ability to play through a second time "infected", and a surprisingly robust, enjoyable multiplayer experience.

Resistance: Retribution was developed by Sony Bend and published by SCEA. Released on Playstation Portable on March 17, retails for $39.99. Completed campaign, played multiple online battles, tested out PSP Plus and Infected modes.

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