For this review, I was prepared to start by first taking Sony to task. Here we are in the middle of a Vita drought, a time with little to no Vita games coming out. Resistance: Burning Skies is released, and gets no fanfare from Sony. If it weren’t for my constant scanning of Amazon for new releases, I would have missed this one. It made no sense; why would Sony do no advertising for not only a Resistance title (one of the big PlayStation exclusive franchises) but also Vita’s first FPS? After playing it, I can understand why Sony wants to pretend it doesn’t exist. This is hands down the worst game on the Vita right now.
Resistance: Burning Skies is a prequel set at the time the Chimera first invaded the US. You play as Firefighter Tom Riley, a man caught in the middle of the invasion who’s has to fight through hordes of chimera in order to find his lost family.
(Warning! SPOILERS ahead!) Let’s start with why making a prequel in Resistance is a dumb idea. If this game came before Resistance 2 & 3, Tom lost. In Resistance 3, we’ve seen New York City (setting of Burning Skies) decimated. So right off, we know that Tom failed and that everything we do is meaningless. Chances are we killed him in the final level of Resistance 3. The series is one set in perpetual desperation, where all hope is lost due to how bad the Chimera are destroying us. Things already look like a lost cause in Resistance 3, so why would I believe Tom the firefighter has any chance in Burning Skies? (End SPOILERS)
Now, right off the story isn’t looking to great. However, the characters are just as bad. Tom has no personality, and is personified by his job. His melee weapon is an ax, and throughout the game you have to carry people out of fires. Even his family are generic, and just there to give him a goal. Never once did I ever find myself caring for Tom or his family. The support characters are fine, but lack any real depth.
The graphics are very poor. During cut scenes, the pictures are pixilated and lack definition. You can see edges, and where textures meet on objects. The human characters themselves also lack any real detail, and look like rubber. The more I played, the less it felt like a Vita title and more of a PSP game.
Controlling is another matter and the way they used the touch controls is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I liked touching the enemies to tag them with my Bullseye, or touching and dragging the site to throw grenades. On the other hand, those touch controls got complex and hard to remember. Like when setting up the Auger Shield, they want you to reverse pinch the screen to set up a shield. These control schemes are extremely impractical when you’re getting shot at. But for the most part the touch controls work.
Speaking of the weapons, I hate their upgrade system. Resistance 3’s system (Weapon improves the more you use it) encouraged the player to try all the weapons, and learn to use them. Now, we have Cubes. Hidden throughout the levels are these cubes that can be used to upgrade any of your weapons. Thing is they’re annoying to find, and can only upgrade one of 6-8 things about your gun. In the end, they’re really not worth it, and don’t give you anything that you really need to succeed.
If any of the above hasn’t sold you yet, the gameplay is the “perfect” blend of frustration and boredom. The game for the most part is really easy. It plays like a standard shooter. Walk into an area, shoot chimera, repeat. There’s no atmosphere or anything else to make you care about what’s going on. After awhile, you stop caring about finishing, even with only 5 levels to play through. On top of this, checkpoint placements are few and far between. If you die, don’t be surprised if you have to go through cut scenes and entire enemy waves all over again. This is especially frustrating in the final level where the level designers decided not to bother giving you any cover!
The multiplayer is basic. We get three match types (Deathmatch, team deathmatch, and infection) with up to three customizable load outs. The environments for the fights are confined and boring. On top of this, the spawn points are horribly placed. Nine times out of ten, they’ll be one or two players waiting for you in the next room for you to respawn for an easy kill.
The nicest thing I can say about Resistance: Burning Skies is that it does prove that an FPS can work on the Vita. The aim was accurate, and the buttons worked as well as the triggers on my PS3 remote. While I didn’t like all of the ways they worked around not having an L2 or R2 buttons, the touch features of the Vita could handle the load as far as having an FPS on the Vita.
Burning Skies has no stand out moments in it. Gone are the memorable scenes of chaos from previous games. The moments here are pretty standard. Walk into a section, shoot things, and move on. After playing, I took away absolutely nothing.
The thing that burns me up how little attention Nihilistic Software paid to the franchise. Many of the staples of Resistance were forgotten about or not put in. The feeling of hopelessness that you got as you got to see how really incredible the chimera army is nonexistent. The incredible orchestra to play you into battles, is gone as well. In fact, while you get some music here and there, the most you get for background is footsteps and gunfire (especially in multiplayer).
Resistance: Burning Skies should have been incredible. This was one of the first big Playstation franchise to first get announced for Vita. I remember the buzz for this game when they started to leak screenshots of it, and how everyone was looking forward to this. This game could have been a reason to own a Vita, but instead they got complacent that it was the Vita’s first FPS and that it had Resistance on the cover. Thanks to this, its now possible that Resistance may never get another sequel, and that is a damn crime.
Resistance: Burning Skies is not worth your money. It’s simply an attempt to cash in on a franchise name simply because of the brand and the fact it’s the first FPS on the Vita. It’s an insult to the Resistance franchise, and to the Vita. Sadly, Burning Skies will be remembered not only as the first FPS on Vita, but the worst game for it yet.
FINAL GRADE: F