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Remember Resistance: Retribution? It was an attempt at getting an FPS to work on the PSP, and it turned out to be an admirable attempt, since we rather liked that game, but let’s face it: controlling any type of movement by using the face buttons as a janky d-pad is less than ideal. Retribution was darn good, but it would have made a world of difference if the PSP simply had a right stick. Does Resistance also need touch controls? We’re not so sure, but they also make an appearance in the upcoming Resistance: Burning Skies PS Vita game. We’ve noticed many Vita games working (and possibly shoehorning) touch controls into gameplay, and the jury is still out on how Burning Skies uses it.
What’s not a hanging question mark is the implementation of the regular controls. Strafing, taking cover, and aiming all work beautifully thanks to the second analogue stick, although we must say that the placement of said stick left us fumbling with the face buttons occasionally. If you just glance at the Vita it seems that the right stick is basically in the same configuration as most right sticks, but it’s aligned just enough below the face buttons, as opposed to the left of them, that when we meant to reload we ended up jumping at first. We’re sure this won’t be a problem after the Vita’s layout becomes familiar, but it’s not immediately a mirror of how you typically play FPS games. Regardless, we were popping and shooting and taking out Chimera with ease, so we can’t complain about the overall shooter controls.
As a kind of return to the tone of the original Resistance, Burning Skies takes place mid-invasion, just after R1, as opposed to the mostly post-invasion wasteland we trekked through in R2 and R3. It also sticks to a more focused setting, following a lone fireman as he tries to rescue people around the DC and New York area. In the level we played, we were heading across the Washington Bridge to rescue some soldiers from their downed VTOL. We worked around abandoned vehicles and over crumbled asphalt ramps, taking on groups of Chimera foot soldiers with our carbine, bullseye, and sniper rifle. When Chimera got too close we tapped a little axe icon onscreen to perform a melee attack with the fire axe, which was rather satisfying, if not nearly as efficient as clicking a stick.
We learned that using grenades is a bit complicated: tap the icon, then drag your finger to where you want to throw. Hold your finger onscreen longer to cook the grenade. It felt clumsy and didn’t really add to our enjoyment of tossing grenades, but we guess one advantage of onscreen icons is that it gives devs more buttons to work with. Tagging an enemy with the bullseye is as simple as tapping your target, which actually works well, at least from what we’ve seen the few times we used it.
The game looked darn good, although perhaps not as good as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and it definitely had some framerate issues, which we’re wondering how much better those will get before release. Does it feel like Resistance, considering it’s done by a different developer (Nihilistic)? Yes, but it also feels much like a “portable” Resistance in that it’s not as smooth and pretty as you’ll get with the PS3 versions – which might seem obvious, but some other Vita games we’ve seen look nearly as good as PS3 games. If Nihilistic has taken proper notes on what makes the Resistance series great – and those factors aren’t immediately obvious to someone if they haven’t spent serious time with one of the games – Burning Skies should fit nicely into the now sprawling canon of our favorite alternate 1950s alien-invasion epic.