Review: Resistance – Burning Skies

by on May 30, 2012 >> PSVITAReviews

offers the first FPS for the , a system that finally has the potential to be a hand held where first person shooters can live, be playable and a lot of fun. With dual analog sticks, touch controls and more, the seems like a natural fit for the genre, especially with it’s impressive graphical capabilities, robust online features and PSN integration. The franchise is tied directly to this generation of systems and their success in the world of exclusives. Along with Killzone, Resistance has been a series that FPS players have been proud to call one of their favorites and with a name and pedigree like that you’d think that a jump into the hand held market on Sony’s new flagship system would be a brilliant choice and a no brainer. Unfortunately ends up coming off poorly.

You play as Tom Riley, a New York City fire fighter in an alternate 1951 when an alien menace called The Chimera attack the planet Earth. While on call you’re attacked and lose your team mates and now it’s up to you to… I guess… kill everything to save earth? I’m not really sure because Tom Riley has very little motivation and is almost a non-character. You have a wife and kid which I didn’t know until Tom finishes a mission, is running down a street and just happens to stumble into them and rather than go with them to make sure they’re ok Tom runs off with a group of underground resistance fighters called The Minute Men he knows literally nothing about.

All this story is told in poorly encoded comic book style cut scenes in between missions and they never actually tell Tom’s story. Instead you’re given glimpses into news reports, what some unnamed politicians have to say about what’s going on, and the words of the freedom fighters you’re with… but never Tom. This is one of the biggest set backs. I don’t understand anyone’s motivation other than aliens are attacking, but I don’t buy into the idea that Tom is this huge family man but then abandones them to go fight with people he doesn’t know. None of it really adds up.

Because this game is a prequel/side story and I know that Tom isn’t going to be responsible for the defeat of the Chimera (after all Nathan Hale is the main character in this franchise and has already done his part), the only reason to play for story is to know Tom’s role in everything, but it’s hard to care because he’s such a shallow character. With this being the case the gameplay and everything surrounding it need to stand up and shine in order for this game to be worth you while, but it just doesn’t.

Burning Skies plays like an FPS. It controls well, the guns feel pretty good to fire and all have cool mechanics behind them. Certain guns use touch screen integration to use their secondary firing, like the shotgun/crossbow which requires players to drag their finger across the screen to reload it or the Bullseye machine gun which has players tapping enemies and then bullets fly to that enemy around corners and cover. These work ok, but there are also too many other commands on the touch screen and it can become easy to accidentally swipe a grenade icon and drag it some where you don’t want to throw it and then you’re down a grenade or kill yourself.

There are other control features that work pretty well like using Down on the D-Pad for running. It feels natural and like it should be the official run button of all FPS games on the Vita in the future. The back panel can also be double tapped to run, but I found this to be a little sloppy and with the down d-pad right there by my thumb it’s just an easier solution.

Visually Burning Skies does nothing to show off what the system is capable of. Where Uncharted shows off the bright OLED screen, the amazing spectrum of colors and the crisp textures of characters, Burning Skies reuses textures from building to building, everything is dark earth tones or faded greens and yellows and the whole game feels rather empty. Level design itself is ok if not incredibly linear and loaded with waist high cover for Tom to safely fire from.

The sound design is some of the worst on the system. Usually I like to play my Vita games with a good pair of headphones on so I can hear every part of what’s going on, be in on the action and enjoy the lush auditory landscape that the designers have given me. Resistance just sounds empty and hallow. Guns lack punch are overly repetitive, and sound like they’re all right next to you. In multiplayer (which I’ll get to in a second) a gun firing in another building lacks definition or volume control so it all sounds the same, which gets annoying when layered up one after another. A musical score is used sparingly and often gun fights which should be highlighted with some kind of orchestral score (even taken from a previous Resistance title) lack any kind of music at all. In fact I can’t tell you what the music sounds like because I simply don’t remember hearing any.

Multiplayer lacks variety or fun. There are three different modes, none of which are anything special and only six maps. The fights are 4v4 but with with so few people playing I often found myself just looking for enemies to kill without running into them for long stretches. It simply wasn’t fun. There are power ups and level upgrades for your weapons but nothing deep or robust like most FPS gamers would be familiar with. Call of Duty this is not.

Over all I can’t see a single reason to buy this title. It’s boring, bland, undercooked and lacks any character. It almost feels as though it’s a copy of a well known franchise rather than an actual entry. Stick to the PS3 titles and here’s hoping that the next entry on the Vita in the FPS genre learns from this game’s mistakes.

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