Resistance: Burning Skies, the long running PlayStation exclusive shooter’s handheld debut is a case of is and is not. Yes, it’s the shooter you’ve been waiting for in the sense that it’s the only true first person shooter available on the Vita, but it’s also not the shooter you’ve truly been waiting for. It is a missing chapter to one of the PlayStation brand’s most well loved franchises — but it’s not one that feels like it belongs with it’s older console brethren. It is the game that should sell the Vita to those on the fence, but it’s not the game that will.
Burning Skies is in a word, disappointing. Sure, it’s great to be able to take the fight against the Chimera on the road, but the game is so by the numbers, so uninspired and sadly so broken at times that you can’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed. It may be tempting to buy Burning Skies simply because it’s something new for the system but be warned, if you do — you’re probably going to regret your Vita purchase even more after.
Burning Skies tells the story of the very first Chimera invasion in August of 1951 on America’s East Coast. Right away, the setting gives the developers a ton of room to be creative with their story. The 50’s were an interesting time in America, and people were going Alien and flying saucer crazy; it almost seems too easy for the developers to create a campy story based around the paranoia of little green men. Did they? Absolutely not — this is a by the book story, one that’s groan-worthy like no other. You play as firefighter Tom Riley, who is searching for his family after the initial invasion. The game tries, oh does it try to make you care about the characters and the town you’re defending, but it rarely ever goes beyond saving so and so from that tunnel or that collapsed building.
Published by: Sony
Genre: First Person Shooter
Play it if: You really, really need something new on your Vita
Skip it if: You want something…you know, good.
Nihilistic DID however use the setting for something, as an excuse. The world of Resistance: Burning Skies is a remarkably clean one, like abnormally. Even in the face of invading aliens with mechanical arms and rocket launchers that can take down entire buildings, it’s hard to miss the fact that Burning Skies feels very clean. Damage is pre-defined and you literally can’t make any damage to any of the environments — trust me, I tried. I know, it may sound like a minor gripe — but it’s extremely off putting to be fighting this gigantic, world changing battle in such a sterile environment. Maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised though, in an early portion of the game, when the aliens first appear, you’re in the middle of a burning building, and explosions are going off everywhere. When you finally make it out of the building, there are two people watching a news story on TVs in a store window, mere feet from the explosions as if there’s some sort of force field around them. It’s this lack of attention to detail that dots the entire Resistance experience.
But how does it work as a shooter? Terribly. Now maybe that’s a bit unfair, but the lack of action on-screen fails miserably when compared with the stellarly frantic action of Resistance 3. Here’s how most battles take place: go into an area, a few Chimera pop out..hold down the right shoulder button until they haphazardly fall to the ground then repeat. Shooters have come a long way in the last few years, but if you didn’t know any better, you would swear that this is a re-release of a decades old shooter, just one without much charm at all. Everything seems to take a turn for the worse towards the end of the game where besides a few boss fights thrown in, the developer just seemed to give up and you’re just dumped into room after room of Chimera, with little to no cover — it’s so unfinished that it’s like they just said “We need to ship this thing — just make some rooms and dump some guys in there!”
Burning Skies also feels like it’s determined to dump touch controls down the player’s throat. Even the most simple of actions, like opening doors require you to tap the screen, without an option to use face buttons ala a traditional console shooter. The worst part is how the game forces you to use the touch screen features even in the thick of battle. Want to use a grenade? You’re going to have to drag that tab across the screen. want to switch weapons? Yep, you guessed it. The game also features a tagging system which requires you to take your hand off the system’s main controls and hold it down on an enemy. It’s unnatural to even switch weapons in Burning Skies, as the developers insist that you take advantage of the technology.
But hey — at least there’s multiplayer right? Having a good multiplayer suite in a game like this could be a saving grace — but alas, it’s not what yo were hoping for. It’s a laggy, similarly unfinished experience that fails to be fun or even make sense. No care is taken to create interesting maps, or sensible spawn points — you’re just dumped into a large(ish) room with other players and you hope for the best..which you never get.
The Blast Factor: There’s really no way around it. Resistance: Burning Skies is one of the most disappointing games in recent memory. This is the game that could have solidified the Vita as a worthwhile gaming platform, but instead it makes it’s faults all the more clear. It often feels unfinished, and always feels lackluster. You may be thirsty for something new on your new handheld, but this is not it.