I had high expectations for Resistance: Retribution (RR) given that it was Bend Studio’s follow up title to Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow (SF:LS). Syphon Filter blew my socks off in showing me what a shooter could be like on the PSP. I thought even having the same game with a new skin would have been a great experience. What I got was a similar quality game, but targeting a different audience that is much more into action/run and gun than they are into stealth tactics.
I’m going to compare Syphon Filter against Resistance in the following areas:
- Shooting Mechanic
- Story Telling
1. Shooting Mechanics
At first I hated the auto-targeting system that RR had because they took away the most impressive element of SF:LS – the ability to target precisely. At first I mentally fought with this and hated it until I realized it services a different kind of gameplay. In SF:LS I would creep around and because the mixture of the control system, world design and animation design allowed it, I would target precisely where people would poke their heads out and BOOM, headshot. Using the PSP controls (challenging at best) and being able to support precise shooting was incredible.
Cover Sharp Shooting (SF:LS)
The key ingredients to this shooting experience are:
- Stealth approach to combat (they might not know you are there)
- You and your enemies spend majority of time in cover, timing when to shoot
- You aim from cover
- Head’s are always at fixed crouching or standing height
- Significant reward for a head shot, great animation feedback on it
- Any weapon can be fatal, focus is on player movement and aim
Hose them down (RR)
The body count in RR is probably 5 times higher per minute of play than Syphon Filter (if not more).
- Easy cover
- Auto aim
- Allow called shots for special enemies that need their heads removed
- Strategy based on weapon selection and fire mode selection
At the end of the day, I prefer to have my tactics be movement or aiming based so I much preferred SF:LS for these mechanics. However, knowing why the design was changed, it did match the play experience.
2. Story Telling
Both games use a mix of videos and in game cinemas to tell their stories. I’m using my memory to recall the amounts of the story but I think the mix was something like this for each game:
SF:LS Story breakdown
Story Telling 20%
- Pre-rendered cinemas 10% (explicit story telling, briefings)
- In game cinemas 10% (mission context)
RR Story breakdown
Story Telling 40%
- Pre-rendered cinemas 10% (Introduction, per act cinemas)
- Concept Art naration cinemas 20% (Mostly maps and narrated story telling)
- In game cinemas 10% (in mission cinemas, small stories)
I enjoyed both stories but I found RR had WAY to much attitude and forced naration through the story. They did a great job of telling the story and describing the motivation. The voice acting in the concept artwork told story was excellent as was the writing. I really didn’t like the main character until about the last quarter of the game. Logan’s shadow had more of a simple and cliche’d story, but the ensemble cast made me care more about the crew and let me focus more on the game itself.
Both games have hidden documents and various achievments throughout the level. The key difference between the two games for me is that I have NO IDEA what the achievements in RR are whereas the achievements in SF:LS were very clear to me. To be fair I gave SF:LS more replays, but througout that play experience I was getting feedback on achievements. Replays were very clear and very fun to attempt. The focus was on using weapons and the environment properly and collecting hidden documents. The presentation in SF:LS increased the play experience. I didn’t find any game enhancing elements in RR.
Both games really show off what the PSP can do. I think that RR probably takes the edge in technical difficulty and variety (mech levels) and also dealing with red/browns on PSP is very hard to make it look good with the low responce time on the LCD. SF:LS had more natural environments and more blues and whites. For my own taste LS:SF was again the better game.
Obviously I liked SF:LS much more, but both games are good. I find it fascinating that the same studio made a similar if not the same quality game but that choosing a more action based focus made the game less interesting to me. From what I can tell, this is an example of where choosing your audience really does dictate design changes. I hope that RR is more successful than SF:LS because I don’t think the previous games got the sales they deserved.