click to enlarge (c'mon -- you can't resist)
Just before news broke of PSP's impressive new wave of first- and third-party support, we took Resistance: Retribution's multiplayer modes for a test drive. Our expectations were high, given that -- as far as we knew -- it was the only marquee game on the horizon for PSP. Still, even knowing that's no longer the case, we're nevertheless quite impressed by Sony Bend's shrink-raying of the console multiplayer experience.

Up to eight players can take part in Retribution's MP modes, so that's exactly how we tried 'em. Going through each of the five modes -- Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Assimilation, Containment and Free-for-All -- we got a taste of how the game's five multiplayer maps worked (and reconfigured) for each. We also came away with a couple of favorite match types.

To be honest, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Free-for-Fall (a.k.a. Deathmatch) are fundamentally the same as in every other first- and third-person shooter you've ever played. They do benefit from touches unique to Retribution, such as teammate reviving and the automatic cover system.

Assimilation and Containment aren't exactly new, either, but they proved to be the most fun, given the number of players involved and the maps themselves. Assimilation was our absolute fave; something about the idea of trying to keep the sole "infected" player at bay -- and be the last uninfected man standing -- was really tense, in a good way.

Containment worked well because the maps are designed well. Sure, they're not likely to go down in the annuls of greatest level designs, but they are just the right size for eight players. We never felt we were running around aimlessly, missing out on the action. It's kept fairly up-close-and-personal. It also makes sense to have only two control points (coolant pumps for a reactor, in this case). Our team held 'em for most of the match, causing our opponents' power source to get all explode-y.

Much of the multiplayer experience in Resistance 2 has been brought over to Retribution: Ranks (which unlock new taunts), a tiered scoring system (kills assists, teammate revival bonuses) and various, smaller nuances. And, of course, the weapons. R2's minigun is there, complete with force field generator. (A Sony Bend dev used this weapon to end the session, easily outscoring all seven of the other players combined.) There are also variants on staples such as the Bullseye (secondary fire: a rebounding energy disc) and Fareye. The game pushes stats to MyResistance.net, so players can keep track of their performance in all three Resistance titles at Insomniac's community site.

Overall, the combination of fundamentally solid modes, right-size maps and rock-solid framerate made for one of the most enjoyable handheld multiplayer experiences we've had. As for extending that experience, Sony Bend wouldn't talk about potential DLC -- maps, weapons and the like -- but the way it wouldn't talk about it hinted that something's definitely in the wings.

Sony's official PlayStation Blog produced the video -- including a chat with lead multiplayer programmer Darren Chisum -- we've embedded below.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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