Resistance: Retribution Multiplayer Hands-On

We go Cloven vs Maquis in this portable spin-off of Sony's hit shooter franchise.

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The Resistance series isn't known for taking a modest approach to multiplayer features. When Resistance 2 was released on the PlayStation 3 this past November, the game offered 60-player online matches and an eight-player co-op campaign completely independent from the single-player experience. So how does the upcoming PSP spin-off Resistance: Retribution plan to carry on that legacy? Though the numbers aren't nearly as gargantuan, the fact that developer Sony Bend is aiming to deliver a full-fledged online multiplayer shooter on a portable system is a feat in itself. But add in elements such as a rank and reward system, a control scheme that supports cover and alternate fire, and five unique gameplay modes, and you can tell there's a level of ambition at play here that you don't see in most PSP shooters.

From a story perspective, Resistance: Retribution bridges the gap between the first and second games in the series. It tells of the struggle between the Cloven, an unfortunate cross between humans and the Chimera, and the Maquis, who make up the resistance fighters of mainland Europe. These two forces will make up the multiplayer factions in Retribution. Matches will offer support for up to eight players, with five maps capable of playing any of the game's five gameplay modes.

Play dead, soldier!
Play dead, soldier!

The most unique multiplayer mode of those five is Assimilation. In this mode, players on the Maquis side will be added to the Cloven team (or assimilated, if you will) when they are killed in battle. The goal is for Cloven players to rack up the most points by killing the Maquis, and for their counterparts to collect as many points as they can by remaining on the Maquis side for as long as possible. It plays like a twist on the Counter-Strike zombie mod; Maquis players can often begin the match with offensive tactics, but tend to end up going strictly defensive to survive until the very end. Other gameplay modes include Containment (a form of territories), Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag.

The five modes are supported on all five of the game's maps. These include sections plucked from the single-player campaign, which is scattered across Western Europe and include such locales as Rotterdam, Bonn, Luxembourg, the Catacombs, and Trench. This collection of maps offers a mix between underground corridors, outdoor plazas, and a distinct difference between Cloven and Maquis, right down to altered lighting and music.

As you continue to play more multiplayer matches, you'll progress up in the ranks. There are 12 total ranks that you can advance through, and various awards and badges are given out over the course of these milestones. The one that immediately caught our eye was the ability to taunt your enemies postkill. You stroll over the dead body, press the right button, and your character will do a little jig while jaunty music is piped in. It's quite embarrassing when you're on the receiving end, but a good deal of fun when you're dishing it out--even if it does provide an odd break from the usual seriousness for which the Resistance series is known.

An auto-cover system snaps you to walls when you're close enough.
An auto-cover system snaps you to walls when you're close enough.

Altogether, it looks like Resistance: Retribution should offer a fairly robust multiplayer package when you consider the rather limited options that exist on the PSP. However, if you're used to the PS3 version, you'll likely need some time to get used to the control scheme. The default layout requires use of the face buttons to aim your gun, and quick alternation between the analog nub and directional pad to move and switch weapons respectively, which can be tricky in the heat of a fight. But if you're willing to look beyond a moderately complicated control scheme in search of a solid shooter, Retribution should fill that role nicely. You can expect it to arrive on March 17.

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