Retribution stands as a bridging story between the first and second games, following the destruction of the London fortress and the expulsion of the Chimera threat from old Blighty, it tells the story of the liberation of Europe at the hands of the Allied command and the French Maquis. Crossing through Belgium? France and Germany. Trying to root out the source of the fresh Chimera troops and destroy it.
This time round the story centers on Private James Grayson, a belligerent London tough-nut with a long standing hatred of the mutant monsters since they converted his brother, forcing Grayson to euthanise him. After going AWOL and embarking on a spree of one-man destruction, he is recruited from death-row to head up a no-hope mission onto mainland Europe. It makes for a far different story as instead of the stoic morbidity of Nathan Hale and his looming fate, Grayson is a gruff no-nonsense wideboy, drafted in from the Guy Ritchie school of anti-hero and evenly balanced with a chip on each shoulder. His obsession with destroying every conversion centre paves the way for the story of the French Maquis resistance and their operations on mainland Europe.
Opting for a 3rd person style, Retribution feels a bit more like a rails shooter than its first person forebearers. The control system lends itself well to the PSP’s controls and a handy auto-aim area of the screen helps to negate the fiddlyness caused by not having a second stick for aiming. You can switch to more precise manual aiming, which is more difficult but lets you pull of one-hit headshots. Although there’s a fair bit of ducking and weaving behind cover as you take out the swarms of bads who happily trot out in front, it’s still feels more like an on-rails shooter than the arcade blast fps games that it follows.
Considering the fairly lukewarm reception of the original game and the tragedy that was Resistance 2, this handheld side-story is actually a much better experience. Decent shooters aren’t exactly thick on the ground for the humble PSP and it manages to give an experience that is both in keeping with the style of the series and also a thoroughly satisfying blast. What’s more the graphics which were fair but uninspiring on the PS3 are by contrast quite an achievement when this closely mimicked on the hardware of a handheld system.
Resistance also is one of the first mainstream PSP games to really make use of multi-system connectivity. As long as a copy of Resistance 2 is in the PS3, the systems can be linked and Retribution can be played with the PS3 controller. You can also ‘infect’ the PSP, providing alternate cutscenes and changing the storyline. It’s not perfect as the PSP needs to be re-’infected’ every time it’s turned off but it’s a step in the right direction for a feature that’s been sorely under-used.
Not that it’s all good news, the gameplay is broken down into what often feels like identical encounters and there are far too many cutscenes breaking up the flow of the action. Whilst it’s nice to see the return of Lt. Cartwright and Greyson’s constant bigoted bickering with the Maquis provides some genuine comic relief that the series has lacked, it often feels unnecessary and underlines how short the levels actually are, in a game that’ll see short charge out of eight hours that’s just careless.
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