E3 2008: Resistance: Retribution Updated Impressions

We met up with Resistance: Retribution developer Sony Bend, and took a look at the series' PlayStation Portable debut.

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With a PS3 sequel and a PSP spin-off in the works, Resistance is fast becoming one of Sony's premier franchises. And although it was only announced yesterday, the PSP version is already looking mightily polished. Its developer is describing Resistance: Retribution as the first "third-generation" PSP game, as it uses specular lighting, highly detailed character models, and seamless streaming of the levels to create what is possibly the best-looking game on the system yet.

The story will fill in some of the gaps between Resistance 1 and 2, but it stars a new character in the form of a British soldier called James Grayson. At the beginning of the game, Grayson finds his brother being "converted" by the Chimera, and as he finds his sibling lying on the table he is forced to kill him just as he is about to turn. The trauma forces him to swear retribution on the Chimera (hence the title of the game), and he singlehandedly begins to take out the conversion centers that the Chimera are using on the human race.

As a military man, this rash behaviour soon gets Grayson into trouble, and he is sentenced to death by firing squad. Luckily for him though, a French agency requests Grayson for an assignment to help them destroy more of the conversion centres, and he ends up helping an agent called Raine Bouchard. The level that we saw starts in a Chimerian conversion center, where Bouchard has been taken captive and is about to be converted. You have to work your way through an army of Chimera in order to save her, and you're constantly reminded that she is being held in a water chamber about to undergo the procedure.

Grayson faces off against the Chimera.
Grayson faces off against the Chimera.

While it's a third-person action game, the controls for Resistance on the PSP are still reminiscent of a first-person shooter. The analog nub moves Grayson forward and back, and strafes him from side to side. The face buttons then allow him to look up and down and turn around. If you look at enemies and they fall within a large target box in the middle of the HUD, Grayson will fire on them automatically. If multiple enemies are present you can target them separately by shifting your view slightly. This leaves relatively few buttons left to do anything else, so the shoulder buttons fire while the D pad is used to select firearms from the weapons ring.

Like in the first Resistance game, the weapons in Retribution have dual fire modes. We got to see how you can use the alternative fire mode on the sniper rifle to slow down time, while on the Auger you can just shoot straight through walls. With a definite lack of buttons left on the PSP, the game has to do certain things automatically. This means that the cover system works when you move close to a wall or obstacle, and your character will crouch down without you having to press anything. And while the developers haven't confirmed vehicle sections, their coy answer to the question suggests that they are incredibly likely in the finished game.

The robotic boss is an imposing foe.
The robotic boss is an imposing foe.

While the majority of the level was spent blasting standard Chimera and drone robots, the end of the level sees you fighting a huge mechanical boss. The team showed how to destroy it using a combination of the huge particle beam in the middle of the chamber and the LAARK missile launcher, the latter of which allows users to change the direction of rockets in midair. Pretty cool stuff.

The demo that we saw ended with a "Congratulations" message and a reminder that the game will be out in Spring 2009. It seems slightly odd that the game fills the gaps in the story but is released after the second game, but the over-the-shoulder view looks like it's set to dramatically change the game's pace. Resistance: Retribution is one of the PSP's best-looking games, and we can't wait to see what else the team can do in the run-up to release.

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