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Resistance: Burning Skies review

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AT A GLANCE
  • Decent weapon variety, but not up to Resistance standards
  • Multiplayer is somewhat entertaining, but offers nothing special
  • Survival mode is fun
  • Uneventful story mode
  • Sound effects are sub-par and unpolished
  • Clunky controls

The Resistance series has made an impression on the FPS genre with its unique array of weapons, memorable setpieces, and engaging multiplayer. The series continues on the PS Vita, making use of the system’s dual analog sticks and touch capabilities with Resistance: Burning Skies. Unfortunately, Vita’s first FPS doesn't hold up to the caliber of previous Resistance games. 

Resistance: Burning Skies starts at the beginning of the Chimera invasion of North America. You play as Tom Riley, a New York City fire fighter who encounters the alien threat on the job, in the middle of a burning building. After leaving his wife and daughter during the initial chaos to help hold back the incoming Chimera, Riley helps the Resistance on his way to reunite with his family. 

This all sounds like a good start to another epic story, but nothing particularly substantial happens during the five hour long campaign. Throughout, the narrative feels glazed-over and rushed, and Burning Skies takes limited time to familiarize players with the characters. Riley’s instant transition from common, civilian firefighter to freedom fighting, alien butt-kicker gives him no character whatsoever. He’s just a hollow vessel for a campaign that feels like a glorified shooting gallery.

But a shooting gallery shouldn’t be much of a problem, given the series’ history -- under Insomniac Games -- of inventive weapons. There are some staples that make a return, like the wall piercing Auger, the military Carbine, and the bullet homing Bullseye. But if you were looking for new, innovative weapons, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The weapons roster is disappointingly generic for a Resistance title. You won’t be jumping on any mounted turrets or experiencing any mind blowing setpieces either. The action basically boils down to finding cover and taking pot shots until all the Chimera are dead.

The action also doesn’t get much of a boost from the sound effects, which lack polish and realism. Burning Skies’ gunfire misses the feeling of heft when squeezing off some high caliber rounds and gives no real weight to the action. Automatic weapons sound more like firecrackers than flesh-shredding gunshots and the sound of explosions just feel empty. Ammo pickups from dropped weapons sounds more like Riley munching on a bag of potato chips than grabbing a magazine full of bullets and loading a clip. Most notably, in some cutscenes, there were specific instances in which the sound effect for explosions or for getting smacked by a massive Executioner Chimera failed to play, leaving us disoriented and confused as to what was going on as we tumbled to the next checkpoint.

The controls are either hit or miss on the Vita, and that’s a huge disappointment, considering the history of cut corners for first-person shooters on Sony handhelds. Don’t be deceived by the fact that the hardware has twice the sticks of the PSP. The dual analog sticks make the FPS manageable on the handheld, but it is far from the precision we’re used to from consoles. The short sticks don’t easily allow subtle movements, especially in the heat of battle. The cover system also felt clunky, since aiming over cover would auto-center on occasion (instead of on an intended target) or the pop-out function simply didn’t work on some walls.

Some of the touch controls don’t help much either. Secondary-fire on weapons requires using the touch screen, which can be a little troublesome in some cases. It never feels natural to take your hand off the control sticks to touch an enemy on-screen, but stringing an explosive bolt on a crossbow-shotgun was intuitive. When you need Riley to run -- activated by double tapping the Vita’s back touch sensor – it’s seldom responsive, forcing you to repeat the gesture till it works. The grenade and melee icons are placed on the right side of the screen for quick, one-touch convenience. When you want to quickly toss a grenade, tapping the icons work great, but the icons’ placement may also cause you to accidently swing Riley’s fireaxe while turning a corner or mistakenly toss a grenade during the more frantic multiplayer moments.

Multiplayer doesn’t stand out much; the fare isn’t much different than the last Resistance handheld game, Retribution, only minus two of that game’s multiplayer modes. You’ll only find three game types: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Survival played in small four player matches or large six to eight player matches. Survival isn’t too different from Retribution’s Assimilation mode, though it provides the only semblance of variety. All but one player start as humans against a single Chimera player. When a human dies, that player respawns on the Chimera team. If the humans survive for five minutes, they are the winners. The added strategy of working as a team and sticking together on the human side gave the mode a bit more depth than the traditional deathmatch modes.

Scoring kills and winning matches earn players experience points that unlock new weapons and bonuses. Newcomers will run into tough opposition from experienced players though, since higher level players will be equipped with much more devastating weapons while the beginners are stuck with the weaker starter guns.

Resistance: Burning Skies doesn’t offer the Resistance experience you’d expect, period. The weapon variety that defines the series is flaccid at best, the story is forgettable, and the multiplayer isn’t even as varied as the last handheld game in the series. It’s hard to even recommend this one to gamers who’ve spent the last six years popping Chimera skulls. Even if a few rounds of Survival are rather fun, there isn’t enough unique content here to attract many people, be they long-time Resistance fans or folks looking to get their FPS jones from the Vita. Resist the temptation.

More Info

Release date: May 29 2012 - PS Vita (US)
Available Platforms: PS Vita
Genre: Shooter
Published by: SCEA
Developed by: Nihilistic
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

15 comments

  • rawdog50 - March 15, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    ...yeah I definitely liked this game back when it came out. I was long as hell, weapons were crazy, and the action was pretty threatening. Although there was almost no driving music behind the levels and the graphics weren't the best, it is very fun.
  • Squander - May 31, 2012 5:20 a.m.

    being completely honest: Out of curiosity I downloaded the test version and played it for about an hour - I find Resistance gameplay-wise quite beefy and fun! Even more fun than Vita's Uncharted. Story or some of the graphics may be forgettable, however: its still fun :>
  • Dadyo238 - May 29, 2012 2:03 p.m.

    Too bad, this had a lot of potential, being a Resistance game AND the first dual stick FPS for handhelds and all.
  • TristanPR77 - May 29, 2012 10:04 a.m.

    This is a portable game, you cannot review it like a console game and this review does exactly that. So far others review have been good for the game.
  • SpiritTemple - May 29, 2012 7:30 p.m.

    Pretty sure they can do what they want.
  • Cyberninja - May 29, 2012 3:40 a.m.

    Ouch a 4, I was getting Gravity Rush anyway but if the rest of the original vita games are crap then, there is no point in having one.
  • MakoMW - May 29, 2012 2:50 a.m.

    This surprises me, I read the OPM UK review and it scored 8/10. (http://www.officialplaystationmagazine.co.uk/review/resistance-burning-skies-ps-vita-review/). I'm more swayed towards OPM's verdict since they haven't led me astray yet. Though the fact they're shoe-horning touch control features in for the sake of it is a worry. It was the same story with SixAxis back at the start of PS3. If it doesn't need it, don't use it!
  • The_Tingler - May 29, 2012 2:23 p.m.

    Here's an important lesson you MUST learn - never EVER trust first-party exclusive reviews in "Official" magazines. Official magazines get the exclusives first because Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo fund them. That's why they're "official". You think after that they're going to give out a 4/10? Hell, 8/10 in OPM for a first-party game is outright condemnation!
  • taokaka - May 28, 2012 9:35 p.m.

    wow, I read a review earlier today that gave it a 9 and was just about to get excited for this game but then I read this and checked other sites and now I really don't want it.
  • Hobogonigal - May 28, 2012 11:59 p.m.

    Hahaha, who gave it a 9? Some money may or may not have been passed under the table there...
  • taokaka - May 29, 2012 1:43 a.m.

    seems possible, it was game-modo. However it turns out it wasn't a 9, I looked at the score N4G had listed the site as giving it and didn't look at the score on the site itself, they had rated it a buy, which somehow equals a 9.
  • ultimatepunchrod - May 28, 2012 9:27 p.m.

    Wow. So glad I waited for the review, and now, I will be getting Gravity Rush instead. But I really expected nothing special from Nihilistic with PS Move Heroes and Marvel Nemesis Rise of the Imperfects under their belts.
  • Tjwoods18 - May 28, 2012 9:23 p.m.

    Well, despite the negativity, I will still go out and buy the game nonetheless. It cannot be worst than what ninja guiden sigma was.
  • MasterBhater - May 28, 2012 8:49 p.m.

    What an unfortunate mess. I really had high hopes for this one. I told myself "Well, even if the campaign isn't good I'll still be able to enjoy the multiplayer." Now, it seems as if Nihilistic has failed on that end as well. After reading reviews on other websites, they all point towards one regrettable conclusion: This game is UNFINISHED, RUSHED, and not even well thought-out. Nihilistic didn't even have the decency to add a few more modes to multiplayer, which just PROVES how lazy or time-constrained they were. To those of you who own Playstation Vita's and are really looking forward to FPS on a handheld, THIS GAME ISN'T WORTH IT. Spend your hard earned money on a developer that deserves it and buy the MGS HD Collection or Gravity Rush on June 12th.
  • BladedFalcon - May 28, 2012 8:47 p.m.

    Oh wow, a 4? XD I mean, it was already bad sign when Cundy didn't think much of the game when he talked about it in the last podcast. But I didn't imagine it would be this terrible >>; Shame, guess that's one missed opportunity to showcase a good shooter on the vita.

Showing 1-15 of 15 comments

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