Resistance: Burning Skies hands-on preview

Since it was first announced for the PS Vita back in January, Resistance: Burning Skies has been something of a mystery to us. All we really knew was that it would be a spinoff, and that it was being developed by Nihilistic, the studio behind 2007’s Conan, Marvel Nemesis and PlayStation Move Heroes. And while that’s not the most promising track record, any fears about Burning Skies’ quality were put to rest after a brief hands-on with its slick-looking demo.

Set just before the events of Resistance 2, Burning Skies stars New York firefighter Tom Riley – and as a firefighter, he gets to swing an axe as his default weapon. After using it to cut down and stealth-kill a few Leapers and Hybrids, though, we got our hands on a new assault rifle – called the Cluster Fire Gun – and the axe simply became Riley’s default melee attack, which we could bust out at any time by tapping an onscreen button.

As we blasted through squads of Hybrids and floating drones, scrambling across rooftops in an effort to make it to the underground Ellis Island base during the Chimeran invasion of New York City, we learned that touchscreen controls factor into Burning Skies’ gameplay pretty heavily. Aside from swinging the axe, we used them to fire off each weapon’s alternate function – which in the CFG’s case was a volley of grenades that homed in on multiple targets, which we “painted” with touchscreen taps before pulling the trigger. The touchscreen’s also used to hurl grenades, by dragging our fingers from an onscreen icon to whatever thing we want to blow up.

While there’s a lot that’s new in Burning Skies, it was nice to see a couple of old things return – specifically the weapon-wheel interface (which let us carry more than two guns), and the Carbine, which, in addition to comfortable assault-rifle fire, gave us the ability to fire grenades just by tapping on where we wanted them to land. Also back was the Wraith minigun, which didn’t have an alternate-fire mode in the demo – which was fine, because it pumped out lead more than quickly enough to mow down whatever was in front of us.

It also gave us a chance to see how upgrades work in Burning Skies. Over the course of the game, Riley will find chunks of Chimeran “Gray Tech,” which can be applied to firearm improvements – in this case, an add-on that made the minigun even more formidable, letting us easily charge through interloping squads of Hybrids once we were in the base – at least, until a really huge one busted in and ended the demo on a dramatic-cliffhanger note.

Our time with Burning Skies wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but it did show a surprising amount of promise. The visuals, while not quite approaching PS3 levels, are sharp, the action was fast and brutal, and the mere presence of dual thumbsticks made it one of the most comfortable, natural-feeling shooters we’ve played on a handheld in a long time. Whether that'll translate to a must-have when its nebulous 2012 release rolls around remains to be seen, but so far it looks like Nihilistic is doing a decent job of filling Insomniac's shoes.

Sep 6, 2011


  • EnragedTortoise1 - September 7, 2011 5:03 a.m.

    Of all the questions I could ask, this might seem strange, but how's the frames per second? Does this game run smoothly, or is its huge arenas too big for the poor little Vita?
  • taokaka - September 7, 2011 4:49 a.m.

    I wasn't impressed by the gameplay showed off before but if you say it is good then i hope to hear more about this
  • robbiejc85 - September 7, 2011 4:38 a.m.

    And herein lies the problem with the PSP and now the PSV. Sony takes a solid, but by no means stellar franchise, hands it to a less than remarkable developer, and we get a decent (as in, 'good for a handheld!') sub-standard port. I owned a PSP and it had some really fun games - but except for Ready at Dawns superlative God of War games, the rest were by and large just shallow empty versions of games I already loved (Resistance, Silent Hill, Medal of Honour, Syphon filter). In fact, all it made me want to do was by a frigging PS3 (loving it, thanks). When developers could be arsed to make handheld-specific titles, like Killzone Liberation, or Patapon - they nailed it on the head - but the rest of the time the DS line-up served much better options on the go, and despite the PSVs tech awesomeness (the exact same feelings we had when PSP was announced) I can't see the point in shelling out for Uncharted lite (sorry, Golden Abyss) when I can play 1/2/3 on the home console.
  • The_Tingler - September 7, 2011 1:40 a.m.

    Looking good... but until I find out how it plays I remain skeptical.
  • NanoElite666 - September 6, 2011 9:32 p.m.

    Hm, hopefully the touch controls will ultimately optional. I don't like the sound of having to trigger alt-firing and throwing grenades.
  • Vault Boy 3001 - September 7, 2011 2:01 a.m.

    and why would they piss the fans off like that? It's not like it's an iPhone where there absolutely no buttons involved in gameplay. This thing is handheld especially made for gaming.
  • NanoElite666 - September 7, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    It may be a dedicated gaming device with real buttons and everything, but when the preview specifically states "touchscreen controls factor into Burning Skies’ gameplay pretty heavily" and doesn't make any mention of any sort of alternative I think I'm perfectly justified in wondering if alternatives exist.
  • kingsmikefan - September 6, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    Hey, Mikel, where's the Resistance 3 review, huh, huh...huh? haha.
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - September 6, 2011 6:23 p.m.

    It should be up in a little while; Matt Keast's handling it.
  • sonicskateboard - September 6, 2011 6:31 p.m.

    So matt keast's did the dead island review and the resistance 3 review? Is he a robot? And does he have emotions?
  • kingsmikefan - September 6, 2011 9:13 p.m.

    I was actually just being a dick, I don't even have a PS3, haha. Thanks for the update, though, that's a GR thing to do, and Keast has been on a damn roll, lately.

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