Resistance: Retribution – Really Rather…good

14 Jul

In videogame land, wars aren’t won by military might or cunning, shock and awe, or Sun Tzu proverbs. They’re won by a single man, with brown hair and the ability to get shot eighteen times in the eye before dying. And, even when said war is happening in the UK, Europe or (most likely) Russia, he’ll be a bloody Yank.

Well, except for Resistance: Retribution.

Meet James Grayson, British Royal Marine and card-carrying kicker of big-toothed, multiple-eyed alien invader arse – meet him hard, because he is a absolute, 360-degree badass.

In the course of R:R, James here manages to destroy a gun the size of a church, blow up a five-kilometre-wide alien structure (it’s a ghastly thing, like a Bristol council estate but a bit worse), shoot and then knife his commanding officer to death (it’s okay, folks – he’d gone a bit crazy and infected), traverse catacombs beneath Paris, and save Europe from the pesky Chimeran menace. Also he has sex with an attractive French woman. What a hero.

Despite his “Fuck you, leave me alone” attitude to murderous alien and bossy human alike, he’s surprisingly likeable – not just because of his endlessly amusing cock-er-nee accent, but because you kind of feel for him. The game starts with James having to shoot his brother in the head to prevent him succumbing to the mutating Chimeran virus, which is a fairly unpleasant thing to do (especially if you’re his brother) at the best of times, and yet I found myself thinking as I played, reading Grayson’s in-game journal and the pieces of highly sensitive intelligence documents that were lying in the middle of the street, he was honestly the one that came off with the worst deal.

It is his quest to exact violent, uncompromisingly British vengeance on those pricks the Chimera that makes up the excellent story mode of Resistance: Retribution. It’s an interesting third-person use of the PSP’s single analogue stick, but in practice it works pretty effectively. The times when it seems to not do so are usually when  you’re facing the Boilers, grotesque, wailing she-Chimera that barge up to you like you’re covered in chocolate and products from Lush and rather rudely explode their heads in your face. Ladies, seriously, it hurts. You can only really stop them by putting a bullet in their brain, but the automatic lock-on sticks to their annoyingly resilient torsos rather than their soft, permeable heads – switching to manual aim, it feels like you’re stuck to simply aiming up, down, or side to side. It doesn’t have the smooth, fluid motion of an analogue stick, and nowhere else is this more apparent than when some grumpy bitch detonates their skull next to your ears because her head wasn’t at a right-angle to where you were aiming.

Of course, this is but a minor niggle in an otherwise fantastically crafted slice of game. A spot-on cover system will mean plenty of ducking in, popping out and letting some shots off, then popping back to reload as your foe’s energy bullets bounce harmlessly off your cover. Having a back-and-forth shootout with a single powerful enemy is probaly the second most fun bit of the game.

Which brings us to the best part: The mech.

This hulking bastard shows up a few times and is seen off with a few rockets, like most other bosses. It’s when you get one of your own that things get interesting.

Infinite ammo and an auto-repairing hull mean that it’s not particularly challenging, but it also means failure is rare – and when you’re piloting one of these (you get two opportunities during the course of the game) you’ll be too busy laughing to care about being challenged.

Rockets send rent-a-grunts like those on the right flying through the air, hitting walls and sliding down them – add the right sound effect and it’s like a sci-fi Loony Tunes cartoon, with explosions. You’ll fight Titans (the chunky bugger on the left) two or three at a time, but get some rockets in between them and they’ll overheat (don’t ask) and explode in a shower of flesh and cannon, several seconds after their hit points run out. You’ll even come across identical mechs, who luckily lack both the intelligent pilots (they’ll shoot for a bit, maybe fire a rocket over your head, wait until they’ve finished adjusting the seat and then shoot again) and the self-repairing aspects of your pimped-out ride. And that’s when the one-liners start.

“You must be last year’s model”.
“It’s the scrap heap for you”.
“I’m James Grayson, bitches!”

And that’s Jimmy G for you,folks – star of the best PSP game so far this year, he’ll save your continent, then make you his bitch.

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