Posted on May 29, 2012 AT 12:05pm
It’s a trick; get an axe
Ever since Sony announced the PlayStation Portable at E3 2003, I found myself dreaming of dual-analog gaming in the palm of my hand. Unfortunately, Sony opted to skip out on the double-nub lovin’ until the launch of the PS Vita in late 2011, but with it came news of a new Resistance adventure that would finally make my palm-sized p0wn sessions a reality.
Then, of course, came the months of waiting to see if Burning Skies would live up to its promising pedigree. And now that I’ve put the game through its paces, I’ll have to wait a little while longer for that system-selling FPS experience I’ve been hoping for.
That’s not to say that Resistance is utter garbage, mind you, but it falls short on a number of fronts, putting it firmly in that “almost, but not quite” category. This all starts with developer Nihilistic’s use of the hardware itself. Burning Skies isn’t an ugly game by any stretch of the imagination, but it sure as hell doesn’t convince me that the Vita’s anywhere close to its console counterpart in the horsepower department. The game’s rife with visual issues—including simplistic models, clipping, and characters popping in from across the screen to take their place in cutscenes—making this less of the visual showcase we were promised and a more of a cautionary tale against slapping an established property onto a spin-off without delivering on expectations, especially after leading with a looker like Uncharted: Golden Abyss at launch.
Another Vita-specific aspect that left me in the love lurch was the game’s use of touchscreen tech. For the most part, the tactile functionality’s cumbersome and annoying, and though placing things on the back touchscreen would’ve fixed 99 percent of my issues, no such option was present, leaving me to slime up my screen any time I wanted to unleash a secondary weapon function. Another irksome element: the fact that simple touch buttons for actions like jumping, secondary fire, and weapon swaps would’ve all been welcome as touch features, but instead, we’re left with a bunch of gimmicky mechanics that make everything more difficult. A shame, considering how easily this could’ve been a positive example of what touch controls can do for a game.
The campaign itself satisfies despite these setbacks, though. The button-based controls are solid, convincing me that the Vita has a bright future as a haven for shooters. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the main narrative’s window into the world of protagonist Tom Riley—a New York City firefighter—was fun enough to follow, even the game’s nifty weapon-upgrade system couldn’t keep the sea of enemy encounters from blurring into one another after a few hours, making it hard to feel like I got the typical Resistance experience on the Vita.
The same could be said for multiplayer, which offers a handful of bare-bones options that are fun enough on their own—but, for a series that hangs its hat on variety and depth, I wasn’t thrilled to have such a shallow pool to play in this go-round, especially in light of the fact that this is the only FPS in town at present.
And that’s the thing. Resistance: Burning Skies isn’t an awful game, but it is awfully underwhelming versus what I’d hoped for here. I’m now 100-percent convinced that the Vita can deliver a quality FPS, but Skies itself just feels like a late-generation PS2 title. Considering the series’ history, I wanted—and still want—more. I’m all for taking another swing in a sequel, but unless you’re dying to play a shooter on the go, you may want to wait for Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified to hit before you plop down $40.
SUMMARY: Here lies a tragic tale of what could have been. Resistance: Burning Skies is a solid first effort on the Vita in terms of the core mechanics, but it doesn’t quite sell the dream of a portable PS3, falling well short of expectations on the presentation and multiplayer fronts. Maybe next time, fellas.
- THE GOOD: Hey, look, a dual-analog shooter on the Vita!
- THE BAD: Lousy touch controls, lackluster MP options, and a me-too story.
- THE UGLY: The number of times I had to clean my fingerprints off the screen.
Resistance: Burning Skies is a PS Vita exclusive.
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