Sony’s Resistance: Burning Skies on PlayStation Vita takes you on a journey that begins with the infiltration of the Chimera in North America.
The Resistance series of FPS games has a strong following and, as the first proper FPS title for Sony’s handheld, there is no doubt a lot of interest in how this title performs with the twin analogue sticks and the touchscreen.
Following the theme of the previous Resistance games, Burning Skies is set in 1951 amidst the Chimera invasion. This first-person shooter follows the story of Tom Riley, a hard working firefighter who is married with a wife and child. It is this wife and child that provide the drive for this game, as they suddenly go missing during an early evacuation. Tom Riley, a determined man, armed with his fire axe, gut instinct and a hell of a lot of determination, sets out to discover the mystery surrounding their disappearance, a voyage which may eventually cost him his life.
Burning Skies makes use of both analogue sticks and touch screen controls during gameplay. At first I was a little hesitant about how well the two would work together on the PS Vita, having felt that it may be a little bit fiddly. Surprisingly it was significantly easier that I had first anticipated. While most of the control mechanism is performed through the various PS Vita buttons, you can use the touch screen interface in a number of useful ways, such as to attack your enemy with your trusty axe, throw grenades or activate alternate weapon functions. It is all fairly easy.
There is a nice range of weapons available in Burning Skies. These can be accessed by pressing the triangle button, which brings up a weapon wheel allowing you to see what weapons you have, how many bullets are remaining and swap out one weapon for another. A small instructional video shows you how to use your weapon, in case you aren’t sure. The various weapons can be upgraded using Grey Tech, which are cyan coloured cubes that can be found throughout the game, although usually in the most obscure places. Once upgraded, the weapon in question will have access to special effects and there are six cubes available for each weapon, although only two can be used at a time.
Moving around each level of the game, Tom will find his progress halted by doors. The player will need to tap the screen quite precisely to open these, an action which can often be mistaken for the alternate weapon firing. Throwing grenades is as simple as tapping the touch screen until a projectile marker highlights in which area you wish to direct your grenade. Most of the enemies are easily seen beforehand, but some can be found lurking behind doors, waiting to scare you and catch you unprepared. Ducking behind objects for cover is achieved by using the left shoulder button, but felt quite fiddly at times.
Burning Skies has six levels you can unlock, and plenty of opportunity to watch Tommy die over and over again. The levels are completely linear, giving no chance for exploration, and the environments can be quite dull, although the occasional impressive set piece certainly show what the Vita is capable of. The levels are quite big, but feel drawn out in places. The story is not the quickest and there is very little emotional involvement with the main character, despite the desperation of his quest, which does leave things feeling somewhat hollow.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Burning Skies are the online multiplayer options, which Vita owners have been crying out for since launch and are essential in a game of this nature. There are three options made available to the player; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Survival mode. Team Deathmatch and Deathmatch comprise of competitive play for up to eight players, or you can try and stay alive for the Survival Mode, which also supports eight players online. There aren’t many maps to choose from, but each of them offer a portable online experience which is enjoyable when you team up with friends and, more importantly, is what FPS players have been waiting for on a handheld. It is not without its problems though, as lagging seemed to be an issue and finding people online to play with was also a problem. Something else that I found strange was that during melee combat, if you’re killed, then your death will be a silent one, as I didn’t notice any sound effects and there’s no real animation to write home about. You’ll be rewarded with bonus experience during the online game and there are plenty oof weapons and upgrades to unlock, but only if you survive long enough.
As the first proper FPS title for the Vita, Burning Skies hasn’t got the most inspiring storyline, making it difficult to invest in the character, the visuals are not as impressive as I would have hoped and the multiplayer feels lacking. However, developers Nihilistic Software have done a good job of incorporating the Vita controls and they have proven that FPS games can and will work well on the Vita. Burning Skies had the potential to be a terrific game, but is simply let down on a few fronts. That being said, it is still entertaining and offers an experience that cannot be found anywhere else on the Vita, at this time.