Currently offering the only first-person shooter experience on the PlayStation Vita, Nihilistic was hoping to continue the legacy of the Resistance franchise with a console-like experience in the your hands. While some-what successful in bringing Insomniac’s baby to life, a few glaring issues bog down the entire experience.
Burning Skies takes place at the start of the Chimeran invasion of the United States. Branching off from the already established storylines of Nathan Hale and Joseph Capelli, you take control of Tom Riley a New York City Firefighter. After checking out a reported fire, Tom gets first hand experience on what the Chimera are capable of. Wanting nothing more than to protect his family, Tom does his duty to help save lives where he can and fight the Chimera back. You are not alone in the fight though, but will be fighting along side various Army soldiers as well as Ellie,who has ties with some serious military members, accompanies you through most of the game.
The controls were my number 1 concern before the game was released, but I can safely say that it controls better than I was expecting. Nihilistic really nailed the dual-stick aspect of playing a FPS title. Mixed with some touch screen controls, I never felt handicapped by playing it on the Vita. If you run out of ammo, you are able to perform a melee attack utilizing the fireman’s axe, which one-hit kills standard Chimera.
The fan-favorite weapon wheel makes a return allowing you to easily choose between the weapons you have already picked up. Each of the weapons has an alternate fire that is performed by using the touch screen. As you pick up a new weapon for the first time, a quick tutorial video plays out to teach you how to use the alternate fire. Some of the weapons require a simply press of the screen depending on where you want the attack to go, but for others you must perform more advanced gestures or swipes. The shotgun is able to fire explosive bolts that require you to swipe across the top of the weapon, while the Auger, has a shield as its alternate fire that you need to use two fingers and swipe from the center outwards. Grenades are thrown by using the touch screen either by simply pressing the grenade button on the side of the screen or by holding and dragging it to a location on the screen for a more accurate throw. Sprinting can be come by double tapping the back touch pad.
Each of the weapons can be upgraded by collecting Gray-Tech hidden throughout the six chapters. Each weapon has six different upgrades, but only two can be activated at a time. Regenerating health makes a return to the series and the game also has a cover system, although a weak one. It’s a bit too random for me, with some objects such as crates and short walls you can stick beyond and peer out or over to shoot at your foes, but some things that look like they would make perfect cover can’t be used. This has lead to a few extra deaths, as I was expecting to be able to get in cover mode when I did not. Death comes very quickly in the game, if you stand out in the open too long. It doesn’t take more than a couple seconds of being shot at for the screen to be covered with a red overlay. The checkpoints are too few in-between and gets frustrating replaying the same sections over and over. The cutscenes can’t be skipped either, so be warned if you quit in the middle of a chapter, you will be forced to watch the previous one again and again.
The standard enemies, don’t have much tactics other than to shoot at you and running back and forth across an area. Bosses don’t fare that much better, with no real strategy needed to defeat them.
While not overly impressive, the graphics do their job at keeping you entertained as you go from the different locales, such as a burning building, Ellis Island and others. There are a few neat effects that are used on surfaces, but they tend to have a bland look to them. One boss in particular though was very impressive. One of the levels did start with no textures loading up, so I was stuck in a gray-like world. After a few minutes the textures began to populate. I should note I only had this happen once through multiple playthroughs. The soundtrack on the other hand is phenomenal, but used sparingly. Most of the time, you will be sans music and be forced to listen to footsteps and weak gun effects.
On the online front, Resistance: Burning Skies supports 4 or 8 player matches played between three different modes: Deathmatch Team Deathmatch and Survival. Survival has two players playing as Chimera with the remaining players as humans. When a human player is killed, they will re-spawn as a Chimera player, until there are no humans remaining. Matchmaking is quick and painless and just requires you to pick which mode you want to play; either large or small matches. When compared to the massive match sizes of the original titles it may feel underwhelming and the lack of co-op is upsetting.
With the lower player count, the maps have more confined spaces generally opening up to one or 2 larger areas in each map. The action feels slower than the console versions and I found myself taken advantage of sprint almost all the time. Just like in the campaign you can utilize the touch screen for tossing grenades, using alternate fire for weapons as well as performing melee attacks. At first, I was skeptical of using the touch controls during matches, but was surprised at how natural it felt to perform even during the heat of battle. You are able to upgrade your weapons and abilities as you level up your character. The only voice chat the game supports is the use of the Party app on the Vita. Besides some stuttering in some of the larger areas with a lot of action on screen, the matches were generally smooth with no noticeable lag.
Resistance: Burning Skies has done its job at showing that a first-person shooter can work on the PlayStation Vita. The weak elements however keep it from being a must-have title, but the inclusion of a new game +, where you are able to keep your weapons and upgrades softens the blow of a short 5-6 hour experience. I had a some fun in the multiplayer matches, from small 4 player ones, to full 8 player team deathmatches. Being the only FPS experience on the system, players won’t have much of a choice if they are craving a first-person shooter game.
Note: The Resistance: Burning Skies review was written based on the Vita version of the game.