GAME NAME: Resistance: Burning Skies
PUBLISHER(S): SCE (Sony Computer Entertainment)
PLATFORM(S): PS Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): May 29th 2012 / June 1st 2012
The Resistance series is well-known for its great weapon variety, brilliant arcade style shooting, and is also renown for being one of the best FPS series of all time, but whether it holds up on the PS Vita is a different matter entirely.
Your first port of call when you turn the game on will probably be the campaign mode, which unfortunately, doesn’t offer much in the way of content. The entire story is a measly four hours long, which although similar in length to modern-day shooters, is a disappointment.
If that four hours is packed full of fast pace, high quality action then surely we have nothing to moan about, but the campaign is anything but. It feels like the gameplay, and to some extent the graphics, have come from the era in which the game is set, the 1950′s. You begin the first mission in a burning building, and are cast as Tommy, a fireman with access to a surprising amount of weapons. The place is full of chimera, whom you must exterminate.
The basic commands are quickly taught to you in a nice, tutorial fashion, but that’s pretty much the only good thing we can say about gameplay in Burning Skies. The weapon variety of previous installments in the series is completely absent, even nearer the end of the campaign, and the game is never imaginative in the slightest. Objectives are constantly repeated – eliminate an enemy, escape a building, carry someone to safety – and often involve annoying touch screen controls. (Why its compulsory to tap a tiny marker to open a door we’ll never know.) Checkpoints are dotted few and far between, meaning that if you do end up being defeated on one of Burning Skies’ intense difficulty spikes, you’ll end up being thrown back a good half an hour on most occasions, and this is without mentioning the dull and mostly absent narrative to couple the gameplay. There are a few nice Vita specific touches, drawing shields is a great addition to the core gameplay, and planting bombs and grenades is made super easy through the touch screen controls, but otherwise, Burning Skies is consistently dull. There are almost no trophies, no imagination, and at one point the floor disappeared from beneath us and the game froze. Your guess is as good as ours.
Graphically, the game performs the same way. Bland is pretty much the only way to describe the visuals, it seems shades of grey were the only colours on the palette. Character models are – in all seriousness – close to DS quality. The textures are muddy, the colours are wrong, and as a general the graphics are bad. Depth perception will often make you think ‘What on Earth?’ as a seemingly 2D object becomes 3D as you approach it. It’s clear Nihilistic were ashamed of their attempts as well, patching up the screenshots to make them look far better than they do in the actual game.
The campaign, although very mediocre, is absolutely nothing compared to the online multiplayer, and we don’t mean that in a good way. At first, the online mode looks like a great offering. You can customize your weapons in many ways, add a secondary weapon of your choice, play as either chimera or humans, there are loads of unlockables, and four different game modes. Then you try finding a match. You can wait for a good five minutes in the lobby before eventually a game begins, and then, you get a nice message saying you have been disconnected from the online server. We tried a grand total of 50 times to get online, and only managed to have 2 online matches. Those 2 matches were followed by thoughts of ‘Why is there no audio?’, ‘Why can I walk through the scenery?’, and most importantly, ‘Why is that guy hovering in midair?’. Bear in mind this is after ‘improvements’ have been made to the multiplayer offering.
The reason the lack of audio online bothers us is because of all Burning Skies’ components, the audio is the best part. There’s some very good voice acting across the board as well as some good sound effects and atmospheric music at a nice volume level. To be fair the sound is often extremely muffled, (whether that’s the fault of the Vita’s speakers or the game itself we’re not sure) but when compared to everything else, it’s certainly the best part of the package.
Other than a broken online mode and a mediocre campaign, there isn’t much else to do in Resistance. You can toggle with some settings such as sensitivity and audio level which seem to make no difference in-game, or if you’re really desperate you can always watch the credits go by, but otherwise that’s it. And that’s assuming you can get online at all, otherwise you’re paying £30/$40 for four hours of gameplay; which only reiterates the fact that Burning Skies should be a cheap, downloadable offering, not a full retail game.
The cast of characters is limited and very average, not to mention the fact that they all seem to have absolutely no personality at all. In fact, the chimera have more personality than your allies, at least they move about and shoot you, all your so-called ‘friends’ do is crouch behind a wall, shout the odd command and sometimes die. They don’t even explode like the chimera!
Resistance: Burning Skies could have been a great game. The basic building blocks are there, you can see some gleaming moments of brilliance in the weapon design and elsewhere, but it should never have been released in this state. The online is broken, the graphics are outdated, and as a general Resistance: Burning Skies feels like it was never really given the time and attention it needed.