Vita's first FPS does some things right, but ultimately falls short of the console-like experience you are left wanting.
Since the Vita’s announcement one of its stand out features has been the dual analog sticks which would offer up true FPS controls on a handheld. Resistance: Burning Skies is the first game to test the FPS waters on the Vita and while it does some things right, there are still many things which can be improved on for future FPS games.
Resistance: Burning Skies tells the story of Staten Island firefighter Tom Riley. He is called to the scene of a warehouse fire, but in reality it is the first wave of the Chimeran invasion of the United States. Truth be told I haven’t played a Resistance game since the first one back at PS3 launch, but I wasn’t lost at all. Tom is swept up into the fight after being separated from his family in the later section of the first level and from there he is on a mission to meet back up with them, at any cost.
He isn’t alone though, his freedom fighter pal Ellie Martinez is their by his side most of the time. The majority of the game’s exposition is told through unskippable cut-scenes that bookend each level. These highly compressed, to the point of noticeable artifacting, scenes do a good job of filling in the plot points between the skirmishes you play out. I do wish that since these videos make up a major part of the games story that more care was taken to them. The aforementioned artifacting really is an eyesore. The game also tries to build this emotional connection between you and Tom, but it really just falls flat. There are some points in the story where you can see that they want you to feel for Tom and what he has gone through, but I just really didn’t care. They don’t really ever flesh out his background and it hurts these scenes.
Gun play in the single player mode feels like what you would expect from an FPS game. Fan favorite features like the gun wheel make a return in Burning Skies and with that you are never at a lost of a gun with ammo. Also a new feature called Grey Tech has been added. Scattered throughout the levels are these cubes which can be used to upgrade your guns in many different ways. Adding a scope, faster reloading, more ammo all of these things really let you craft the guns to your play style.
The movement and shooting, while taking a slight bit of time to get used to the Vita analog stick placement, ultimately feel just like any game you play on your PS3. There are however some drawbacks because of the Vita’s lack of all the buttons found on a standard PS3 controller. Running is now done by tapping the back touch pad (or by using the D-Pad). This gesture has a bit of a learning curve and sometimes does not work. You will notice this mostly when playing online in a deathmatch. You also cannot do any other actions while runnning, so if you are trying to move fast and scale a small ledge you will have to come to a stop. All of the alt-fires for the game’s weapons are done via touch input as well. For example, to tag an enemy with the Bullseye you tap them on the screen. But doing this you will have to take one of your hands off of the analog sticks. What is the point of having both sticks if your hands aren’t on them for a majority of the fire fights you are in? You may also accidentally waste a grenade or an alt-fire because of tapping the screen inadvertently. I actually killed myself a few times trying to open a door because I shot a grenade while trying to tap the icon to open said door.
This may work out fine in single player, where the enemy AI seems to have been programmed to take this fact into account, but when you hop online, actual people will not cooperate thus leaving you a sitting duck while you try desperately to use an alt-fire or throw a grenade. The multiplayer mode is where you will be getting most of your replay out of the game, after finishing the roughly 7 hour single player. In it are 3 game modes, your standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and a Survival mode, split across 6 different maps. My favorite of these was the Survival mode. In it a certain number of players start off as Chimera and when a human is killed they will turn. It is all about team work in this mode, and while the lack of voice chat outside of creating a group in the PARTY app does make it a challenge, you can still have fun if you stick together. As of writing this review there are some issues with joining matches, but hopefully that gets ironed out in the coming weeks.
There is also a Call of Duty like perk and upgrade system. Throughout the matches you are gaining experience for doing different things like killing enemies, ending kill streaks, getting headshots, etc. All of this experience goes towards your total level, which by increasing will give you access to different weapons and Grey Tech upgrades. So just like with single player, you can custom tailor the guns to your liking after reaching certain milestones. Bonus multipliers can be randomly given and shared through NEAR to help you achieve these levels faster. The “infection” as they call it will last for a certain amount of hours and can spread to your friends. All in all this is the closest thing to console FPS multiplayer I have ever played. While it isn’t at the level of say Killzone or Call of Duty, you will probably find some fun in it if you stay away from the touch input gimmicks.
Resistance: Burning Skies is the first true FPS on the Vita and you can tell just that. Developers are slowing learning just what works and what doesn’t on the system. Hopefully, others will look back at the mistakes made and improve upon them so that one day we can have that console FPS experience on the go. We just aren’t there quite yet.
A copy of this game was [provided by the publisher]/[purchased] for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
Chris K's Score:
What I Like:
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