Resistance: Burning Skies is a first person shooter, developed by Nihilistic Software and set in the popular Resistance universe. This game has the pressure of being the first of its type to be attempted on Sony’s new handheld, will it live up to its hype?
The area in which Resistance: Burning Skies most clearly shines is in its core mechanics and gameplay. The main controls all feel competent, and playing a first-person-shooter on the Vita feels entirely natural. All of this must be commended, seeing as Burning Skies is the first of its genre to grace Sony’s new handheld. Moving and aiming via the twin analogue stick feels great, even if it is not quite as accurate or comfortable as handling a full controller.
Complimenting these core shooter mechanics is a range of elaborate weaponry, designed with the series’ staple of creative secondary fire options. These encompass tagging enemies, using explosive secondary fire, releasing drones or even creating a shield that can be fired through. Collecting these guns and upgrading them with semi-hidden blue cubes is enjoyable and complements the competent core of gameplay nicely.
It is when we move away from the core that we see Burning Skies become a less exciting prospect. Certain controls make use of the Vita’s unique inputs, such as running which can be handled by double tapping the back touch-pad or by pressing on the bottom of the d-pad while holding the analogue stick up. Grenades are handled by the front touch-screen, allowing you to drag them into place or launch them quickly with a tap. Both of these mechanics work fine, but neither feels as comfortable as they would on a fully fledged controller. In addition, having to open doors with a touch of the screen at certain points is a nuisance, and should have been avoided.
The story is thread-bare, led largely by the environments and scenarios rather than through plot or character development. There are 6 levels in total, which should take around 6 hours to complete. This is an adequate, but slightly disappointing length of time. There are a few interesting level designs, and even some creative and engaging enemy designs, but these do not come frequently enough to break up what are often bland or monotonous levels.
Things improve drastically by the end of the game. Here we see a more unique design for the level, an entertaining final boss and some vast improvements in the story. Most notably, a scene gives us our first moment of real emotional connection to our main character. The scene in question is somewhat far-fetched, but certainly adds to the story. This spike at the end is not enough to make up for the lack of an entertaining story, or interesting levels earlier in the game, but it is nice to see that the game ends on something of a high-note.
Things do not look better when it comes to the visuals either. Edges are often blurry, and details in the distance are minor and unclear. The game is a massive step-up from the majority of PSP titles, but it doesn’t come close to demonstrating what the Vita it capable of (in the way that Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout have hinted at). These sub-par graphics would not be a deal breaker if they weren’t combined with the general grey aesthetic of the game, which renders it a forgettable experience.
Multiplayer (despite initial technical problems) is competent, if a little underwhelming. Along with the standard death match modes (which support up to 8 players at once), there is an infection mode where the last person who remains standing as a human at the end is called the winner. While the options might seem a little basic, it would have been unwise for Nihilistic Software to have been too ambitious when treading new ground. Overall, this is where most players will spend most of their time, and it is fortunate that it is competently handled.
Resistance: Burning Skies is a competent first try at the FPS genre on a handheld. It demonstrates that this type of game can be great on the Vita, but it doesn’t come close enough to achieving that accolade itself.
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