When Resistance: Retribution arrives this spring, it does so not just on PSP but PS3 as well. Along with a hearty dose of action, our most anticipated PSP title of the year introduces a radical new feature that enables play through your console.
PSP Connect will allow you to wield a controller, ditching the limited controls of the portable in favour of wiggling twin analogue sticks. It's a shooter dream team: the most powerful handheld teaming up with full analogue control.
Yet, there's more to the advent of PSP Connect than just the benefits bestowed upon Resistance: Retribution. Here is a breakthrough in gaming technology that has the potential to dramatically change the way we play portable games.
As Sony struggles to promote its waning portable, PSP Connect provides a glimpse at a possible transformation for the platform.
Recent rumours, arising from a Sony survey, add further to hopeful speculation that the PSP is facing a more integrated future.
Amongst the features the questionnaire canvases opinion about are the ability to access PS3 side-quests and unlockables, broadcast media from the PSP to the PS3, and use the PSP as an additional controller/peripheral for PS3 games.
While there's very little concrete evidence to suggest Sony is pursuing such a shift, the concept of synthesising PSP with its console counterpart is a sound idea for pushing handheld games into innovative new territory.
Both PSP and PS3 share one thing in common: the PlayStation brand. Obvious differences between the two platforms exist, but as Sony has matured PSP with new features, services, and games that list of distinctions has shortened.
What once was considered an independent portable has slowly become intertwined with PlayStation Network and the games that arrive on PS3.
These three games can be played on either platform, the only difference being the screen and minor changes in the method of control. The goal here lies in getting you to partake in PlayStation - doesn't matter if it's PSP or PS3, as long as it's PlayStation.
Resistance: Retribution goes a step further. Challenging the very notion of portable gaming, the title brings the innovative feature to connect your PSP to a PS3 for play using a SIXAXIS or DualShock 3 controller.
This may seem like a trivial point, but it accomplishes two things. Firstly, it gives hardcore shooter fans the precise controls they want; and secondly, it explores previously unexplored regions of game connectivity. It's this second point that has our interest.
Setting up PSP Connect does take some effort, as we discovered in trying it for ourselves. Along with a PSP and copy of Resistance: Retribution, you need a PS3 and a copy of Resistance 2.
Getting the two systems to communicate is a simple matter of booting up both games and connecting the PSP via USB cable.
From there, you're able to activate use of a DualShock 3 or SIXAXIS to play Resistance: Retribution. If you own a set of composite cables for your PSP-2000/3000, you can even pipe the A/V to a display and play with the controller.
The resulting experience is surprisingly awesome. While its practicality is questionable, the chance to play a portable game with a controller has appeal, especially a shooter like Resistance: Retribution.
But why should it be limited to one genre? Why does the co-mingling of the two platforms have to end there? As PSP wanes in popularity due to a shrinking release calender and outmanoeuvring by competitors, the need for radical change in how we play PSP games is urgently needed.
In fact, a reason to play PSP at all is of serious concern. Integration may be the answer.
With the portable able to connect to PlayStation Network, select games accessible through Remote Play, and now the introduction of PSP Connect, pushing PSP closer to PS3 has the potential to differentiate a platform in need of a new appeal.
The steps toward realising this integration are basic: expanding support for PSP Connect across a range of titles, enhancing PSP titles with trophies, unifying user data across both platforms, and encouraging the production of games that connect PSP and PS3 in meaningful ways.
We know PSP Connect is technically possible and works well. Having played Resistance: Retribution, we know this is a good feature. Sony needs to expand it so that other games - both first- and third-party - support it.
Discussion of handheld-console connectivity is dominated by the concept of simultaneous play - that doesn't work, nor does it sell. Instead, meaningful connectivity implies new ways of control, data exchange, and interaction.
PSP Connect demonstrates a new way of thinking about handheld-console connectivity that circumvents the expectation of playing the two at once.
Unifying user data would also do wonders for PSP. Not only would it make it easier for players to manage their gaming systems and data, but it would be an opportunity to create a single PlayStation platform for Sony.
While Sony may resist this ambitious notion, there's simply no denying the critical need to change the sloping perception of PSP. Throwing a bunch of high profile titles at a portable platform is no longer enough to succeed; consumers demand more of their handhelds than ever before.
Games like Resistance: Retribution are a great foundation, but if PSP is to survive and excel then Sony should provide us with innovative new ways to play its games.