Resistance: Retribution is the first portable outing for Sony's grim alternate-history franchise. The Resistance series, like many other shooters, has thrived on the dual analog-stick controller of the PlayStation 3, and at first glance the leap to the PSP's single analog stick and face-button control scheme may seem a bit daunting. However, from the first moments of Resistance: Retribution, it is clear that the fast-paced, intense action of the Resistance series is well represented here thanks to clever controls, a powerful arsenal, and vibrant levels. Despite being less epic in scale than its forerunners and having a few rough edges, Resistance: Retribution is a remarkably successful shooter that looks great and is a lot of fun to play.
The bigger they are, the more bullets they absorb.
The key to Retribution's success is the control scheme. You use the analog stick to move, the face buttons to aim, the shoulder buttons to fire, and the D pad for miscellaneous actions. Aiming precisely with four separate buttons is an unwieldy task, so to smooth things out, Retribution features an aim-assist window. This is a bracketed targeting area in the middle of the screen. If you frame your enemies within the brackets, your reticle will automatically target them and you can blast away without having to constantly tweak your aim. You can easily switch between bracketed targets with a tap of the face button, and your reticle will stay locked-on as you strafe back and forth as long as you keep your enemy in the window. It is an elegant and intuitive solution to the aiming problem, and though it may sound like aim assist would make the game too easy, there are a number of factors that keep everything in balance.
The first factor is your relentless enemies. They fill the air with projectiles and advance on you aggressively. Many can be vanquished with a steady stream of aim-assisted bullets, but others require you to look down your sights (temporarily removing aim assist) and shoot them in their big, nasty heads. Some of the larger enemies are much tougher, so you'll need to use your weapon's powerful secondary attack or, better yet, use a bigger weapon. The second factor that keeps the action tense is that these secondary attacks, as well as big guns such as the rocket launcher, do not use the aim assist. This requires that you toggle your zoom (using the slightly awkward D pad up button) and work a bit harder to get your aim right. Fortunately, the large groups of enemies or towering monstrosities that you'll be firing at present a sizable target. There's a great balance to the combat: The aim assist does enough to keep the action going at a good clip, but it doesn't do so much that it takes away the challenge or the fun.
Of course, the action isn't all about aiming and pulling the trigger. Maneuvering around the levels is just as crucial to your survival. If you run up to a low barrier or a protruding wall, you'll slide into cover and (hopefully) out of the range of most Chimeran weapons. Sometimes you can accidentally slide into cover when you don't want to, and then the magnetic pull that was once your savior becomes your bane. Slowed and exposed, you have to quickly pop out if you want to survive. This can be aggravating if you are just shy of a checkpoint, but for the most part Retribution takes the Resistance series into the realm of third-person action successfully. There are even some swimming and mech-piloting sequences that provide an exciting, though generally easier, change of pace.