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Making Alternate History with Resistance: Retribution
by Ryan Davis on
We get some hands-on time with Sony Bend's contribution to the Resistance franchise, and learn about the game's unique connectivity features.
Those familiar with the work that developer Sony Bend has done on the PSP over the past few years with the Syphon Filter series will probably find the level of quality in Resistance: Retribution unsurprising, as the developer has shown a certain knack for making third-person action games for a platform with the considerable handicap of having just one analog stick. The solution involves using the PSP's analog stick to move and the face buttons to aim, a system that's supplemented with a generous aim-assist feature.
Taking a little cue from Gears of War, as many games have, the use of cover when engaging your gross-faced Chimeran enemies is a priority in Retribution, though it's a largely automated system, and simply walking up to an object or low wall will cause your character to crouch behind it. The level being shown on the floor takes place in Bonn inside a Chimera conversion facility, which definitely gave off the cancerous alien feel that was key to the presentation in Resistance: Fall of Man.
I also had the chance to go to a breakout session for Retribution later in the day, where Sony Bend's John Garvin and Chris Reese discussed a few details about the gameplay and the story that weren't apparent in the demo being show on the floor. As for Retribution's place within the overarching Resistance fiction, the game takes place between the events of Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2, and will feature many Chimera facilities, enemies, and weapons found in both games. The story in Retribution revolves around disgraced British soldier James Grayson, who went AWOL to destroy conversion facilities on his own following some drama with his brother, and who is now working with a French freedom fighting organization called the Maquis. The game promises to fill in some of the blanks between the two PS3 games, such as the origins of the Cloven and the motivation of the Chimera for disassembling its conversion centers. A level taking place in Rotterdam was shown briefly, mostly to illustrate the game's swimming mechanics, which was used as part of a simple water puzzle. This level also introduced female Chimera enemies called Boilers, a term that the Sony Bend guys said was an authentic bit of WWII slang for unattractive women. Boilers appear to essentially be suicide bombers whose heads explode violently when they get near their target, though they also produce a little psychic interference that causes the screen to fuzz up.
The real focus of the breakout session was the two big connectivity features that will exist between Resistance: Retribution and Resistance 2 for the PlayStation 3. There's the Infection mode, which, if you purchase both Resistance 2 and Resistance: Retribution, gives you an alternate version of the story in Retribution, one where Grayson is recruited by Specter and infected with a strain of the Chimera virus that gives him regenerative health, the ability to breathe underwater, and access to hidden areas of the game. Additionally, Grayson's Specter affiliation gives him access to an HE .22 Magnum with explosive rounds, and if you managed to collect 20 pieces of infection-specific intel scattered throughout the game, you'll unlock plasma grenades as well. The motivation behind the Infection mode is clearly to increase the game's replay value, and it sounds like the host of changes it makes to the game should make for a significantly different experience your second time through.
The other big feature that was discussed was PSP Plus. Again requiring both Resistance 2 and Resistance: Retribution, PSP Plus will let you play Retribution using a proper PlayStation 3 controller. This will obviously provide much better controls than the PSP can offer, though it'll also disable the game's aim-assist feature, and crank up the difficulty a bit as well. If you've got one of the recent model PSPs which feature AV output, you can rig the whole thing up as though it were a tiny PlayStation 2. It's certainly a neat trick, though it also seems like the type of feature that should be part of a PSP firmware update and not just a game-specific feature.
Though Sony Bend wasn't talking much about the multiplayer in Retribution, they did say to expect eight-player multiplayer, both online and local, with five different modes of play. I'm a little puzzled by the decision to develop multiple features for what is ostensibly a portable game system that require you to remain tethered to your PlayStation 3, but there's no denying the game's technical proficiency.