Tuesday, May 12, 2009
After the dust of the PSP launch settled, people were less wowed by its graphical prowess and more concerned about the portable's downsides. It didn't feature any killer apps, UMDs took too long to load, and it didn't feature a second analog stick for shooters. Developer Sony Bend seems to have found away around at least one of these issues, as their Syphon Filter games as well as the recently released Resistance Retribution bring workable shooter controls to the PSP.
Note that "workable" doesn't necessarily translate to "ideal". The game makes up for the lack of a right analog stick by assigning that functionality to the face buttons. This means you'll be looking around Goldeneye (or Turok) style with the triangle, square, circle, and X buttons. It's a little off-putting at first but it's about the best that can be done without a true analog stick. Since quick precision aiming can be tricky with this layout, Retribution features a bracket on your HUD, and you'll automatically target enemies that fall within them. It occasionally gets confused when there's multiple enemies in the brackets, and might even target those far in the distance rather than the one right in front of you. The aiming issues occur far less frequently than the cover issues, however. It doesn't have a solid cover system at all, and will often have you either entering or exiting cover when you had no intention of doing so.
While the controls occasionally leave something to be desired, the overall package works surprisingly well. It feels like a natural addition to the Resistance universe, and the enemies and environments look great on the PSP. If you own Resistance 2 on PS3, you can actually connect your PSP and play it on the big screen with a Dual Shock 3. It actually doesn't improve the gameplay significantly, but it's a cool option (even if it does look a little rougher when blown up).
My main complaint is one that I have of many PSP titles - it just isn't that good for pick-up-and-play gaming. There's a decent amount of time that elapses between the time you boot up the system and when you get to actually play the game. Load times are rough, but the bigger problem is the scarcity of checkpoints. If you're playing on a bus or before a doctor's appointment, there's no easy way to quickly save your game and go on your way. For a portable game, it doesn't do much to make playing it a convenient experience.
Resistance Retribution does an admirable job of recreating its big brothers' smaller-scale battles, but it can't quite match up to the huge skirmishes seen on the PS3. However, it manages to include FPS-style controls on a portable without too many problems, so shooter fans might want to give it a shot.
First Play: 8.0
Replay Value: 7.0