Review: Resistance: Burning Skies (PS Vita)
A mediocre start to the Vita's FPS journey.
Touchscreen integration is great; Fun if you like mindless shooters; Headshots are unintentionally hilarious.
Terrible production values; Disjointed storyline; Depressing environments; Gunfire is too loud.
Resistance: Burning Skies (PS Vita)
Developer: Nihilistic Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Genre: Action \ First Person Shooter
Platform: PS Vita
Street Price (As On 1-Aug-2012): Rs 2,400 (BuyThePrice.com, Flipkart.com); Rs 2800 (Game4u.com, HomeShop18.com)
When Resistance: Burning Skies (BS) was first announced, a heavy burden of expectation was strapped firmly on its back. BS wasn't just a spin-off of Nihilistic's bestselling Resistance franchise. The first shooter to make its way onto the PS Vita, it was seen as the dawn of a new era in handheld gaming; an era that proudly boasted of two analogue sticks and a touchscreen that promised to add a new dimension to gameplay. Hype is a good thing — provided you can live up to it. Does Burning Skies deliver the goods?
Yes and no. Well, mostly no. It's a reasonably fun game with some interesting ideas, but fundamental flaws and woeful presentation hold it back from laying down a meaningful marker for the rest to follow.
Alien Vs Firefighter
BS is set somewhere between Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2. Your character is a firefighter who goes from grappling with hoses and poles to fighting alien invaders in a span of 30 seconds. This is followed by an "emotional" reunion with his wife and kid, who just so happen to be running from aliens in the same neighbourhood. More alien encounters and a meeting with a military general ensue, and that's just the first 15 minutes. Putting it mildly, the plot is uninteresting and all over the place. Cutscenes are long and annoying, almost pleading with you to believe there's a story beneath the stupidity. You'll often find yourself mashing keys all over the place hoping to skip them, but sadly, you can't. If you're the kind of gamer who likes an engaging storyline, you will not find it in BS. It's a mindless shooter, through and through.
Heads Will Fly… Hilariously
Visually, BS does an average job. The textures are sharp, albeit incredibly dull. The game seems to have a distinct lack of colour, and the tones of red and brown get overbearing and downright depressing at times. That being said, the weapons, characters, and environments are quite detailed — just don't expect PS3 quality though. While fires and explosions look great, shooting the heads off aliens turns out to be downright comical. Heads topple with abandon and roll along the ground like tennis balls in a manner that would make developers from 1999 proud. Yes, I know it's a handheld console, but I've seen mannequins react to decapitation more convincingly. The in-game audio is not particularly special either. While the background score is tolerable, it's completely drowned out by the monotonous gunfire that rattles on tirelessly through the numerous gunfights. The overall presentation and production values of Burning Skies are nowhere near the levels of its PS3 counterparts. It's just one large helping of "meh".
Touch Me, Baby!
Getting to the good stuff now: the one department where Burning Skies isn't decidedly mediocre is the gameplay. The control scheme is a standard dual-analogue layout, with the shoulder buttons serving to aim and shoot. The touchscreen adds an interesting new variable to the mix, and for the most part, lends flavour to the gameplay without seeming tacked on. This is how it works — you have an arsenal of eight guns, which are unlocked as you progress through the game. Each gun has a primary firing mode mapped to the right shoulder button, just like any other FPS. However, the secondary fire options operate through touchscreen interactions. For instance, your first gun, called the Bullseye, allows you to lock on to a target by tapping it on the screen, and fires all your shots unerringly at it. Another gun that can shoot through walls lets you pinch the screen to create a bulletproof barrier in front of you. The system takes a while to get used to, and you'll end up messing up your attacks the first dozen times, but it's a pretty seamless experience and works well once you learn the ropes. Each new weapon comes with a training video that is easy to grasp. At the regular difficulty level, BS allows you enough leeway to use your abilities to the fullest, without being overrun by your foes. This system adds variety to what would otherwise be a straight shoot-em-up, and makes it that little bit more satisfying. More thought towards level design and set pieces could have made things more challenging, but it's not a bad first attempt.
The single-player campaign lasts around five to six hours, but there isn't anything in there that will make you want to play through it again. The experience is completely linear, with wave after wave of aliens that get progressively better armed. Boss fights can get a bit intense, but are repetitive in general, with the standard formula of targeting weak points on Chimera behemoths. A multiplayer mode does exist, with support for up to eight players in deathmatch modes, but that's about all there is on offer.
Resist The Urge!
Resistance: Burning Skies is a reasonable foray into the PS Vita's first-person shooter market. It shows that there's potential to be tapped and that the Vita is most definitely suited for the FPS genre. There are some great ideas in here, but the disjointed storyline, poor production values, and dull visuals make this a hard game to recommend. The touchscreen component is impressive, but the basic elements of a good game are missing. At Rs 2,400, which I personally find ridiculous for a handheld title, you're better off giving the game a skip and hoping that the next big PS Vita shooter is a better-rounded package.
Gameplay And Design: 3.5/5
Overall Rating: 3/5
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