FPS games are everywhere these days, so it’s no surprise that Sony was quick to bring the Resistance franchise to the Vita this early. But skepticism trarose since it’s announcement, considering there are far better options available than a series heading nowhere after its last title, Resistance 3. And boy was I right.
Set between the events of Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2, Burning Skies features Tom Reilly, a firefighter going about doing his job, when the Chimera invade the east coast of the US in 1951. Tom is pitted against incoming Chimeras to fend off the invasion and when he finds out that his family has been abducted, he embarks on a mission to get them back. The story plays out over six chapters, with very little narration driving the story. Even radio man Henry Stillman didn’t help create any excitement.
Resistance: Burning Skies is the first FPS on a portable console to sport dual-analog mechanics, and it is one of the things it does right. Solid, responsive controls make for good gameplay, although it relies on touch controls for actions such as sprinting. The touch controls can prove challenging at times, given their implementation in firing secondary weapons or grenades. Sometimes interacting with some objects proved frustrating because of how the touch screen controls work. The game implements a half baked cover system that’s mostly hit or miss and totally useless in the later stages. The gunplay though is quite satisfying, largely helped by the responsiveness of the controls.
Saying that graphics are bland would be an understatement. From the textures to the colours, everything looks downright bad. Even something as simple as an axe looks like a stick. The cutscenes, however, looked a little sharper. Most of the action is indoors and despite that, the game looks terrible. Audio? That’s worse. The voiceovers are underwhelming and even manage to go out of sync at times. The guns sound fine, but it’s a shame that the game literally skips bullet sounds at times.
The game basically moves from corridor to corridor, and still managed to mess up level design big time. Enemies just fly in out of nowhere and storm out from behind pillars. To make things worse, the ammunition given to you before firefights is weapon-specific, so the game forces you to use only a certain weapons. Although this makes the going tough, it’s balanced by stupid AI. At a distance, they will stand and stare. Move closer, and they will just rush towards you. Only on one or two instances did they fire at me or hide behind cover.
The series’ classic weapons, like Auger, Bullseye and Carbine, are all present and work just as good. Every weapon has secondary fire modes that are quite well implemented with the use of the touch screen. Minor upgrades are also possible by collecting energy cubes scattered over the game world. The inclusion of the weapon wheel is a good thing, but its clunkiness does hamper the flow of the game. The newer weapons, such as the shotgun and crossbow, fail to make their mark though.
Multiplayer has been Resistance’s forte, but not this time. Burning Skies offers deathmatch, team deathmatch and survival. The first two are self-explanatory, but in survival mode, humans are converted to Chimera on death until the last human survives. It’s disappointing that only eight players can participate in a match, but the map design levels it. The action is fun and mixing up primary and secondary weapons makes it quite exciting. XP earned at the end of each match can get you access to more weapons from the single player mode. However, matchmaking is pretty bad and takes a good amount of time to find opponents. There was also considerable lag in certain sessions. Despite the weapon unlocks, the multiplayer fun doesn’t last too long, thanks to the limited number of maps and slow matchmaking.
Resistance: Burning Skies is a mess. Apart from getting the gunplay right, it falls flat in every department. Little-to-no story, poor visuals, horrible sound; the list goes on. It’s the first FPS on the Vita and it doesn’t even match up to the standard of launch titles. The commercially unsuccessful franchise has finally yet sadly deteriorated in quality as well.