I have to give Nihilistic Software some credit, for they have finally achieved the impossible. That is, they’ve released a fully-functional FPS on a handheld console. To be fair, much of this is thanks to the Vita itself, with its powerful processor, gorgeous screen, and large selection of control inputs, but hardware alone doesn’t make a great game. Unfortunately, even with all the advantages provided by the Vita, Resistance: Burning Skies never quite delivers on the promise of excellence.
The story takes place somewhere between the original Resistance and Resistance 2. You play as Tom Riley, a firefighter who’s caught up in the middle of a massive alien invasion. Now you must shoot your way to freedom, using a variety of weaponry. There isn’t much more to say about the story, as it’s very weak, and serves no purpose other than to tie various battles together. Tom rarely speaks, never saying anything of any interest, and it’s tough to care about your protagonist when you know so little about him.
Of course, story shouldn’t be the focus of a shooter, right? Who cares what’s going on the mind of the hero if you’re having fun killing everything in sight? The action is where Burning Skies gains a few points, but also loses a few (does that make sense?). Many of the awesome guns from previous games are back, and the developers have implemented decent touch controls to make up for the lack of buttons on the Vita. Throwing grenades, using your secondary fire moves, and swinging your axe are all done with the touchscreen, and they work well, for the most part.
The dual-analog control also works very well. It’s a shame they didn’t implement motion-controlled precision aiming, as in Uncharted, but it controls fine without. As I mentioned before, this really does feel like a proper FPS, and the novelty of it carries the game for the first hour or so. After this point, though, the repetitiveness becomes apparent. There just isn’t much to it – you run into a room, take cover, kill the mindless enemies for a minute or two, then run down a hall into another area, take cover, kill the mindless enemies, and so on….. That’s it – no variety, no reason to employ new tactics or strategies, and not much of a challenge.
The multiplayer deserves a brief mention, although this will also disappoint many. Only three modes are available, a very limited number of options, and no clan support. Once again, the novelty of 8-player FPS deathmatch fun on a handheld is the main draw, but this quickly becomes tiring, and I can’t imagine many will play online for long.
I also encountered a rather interesting bug on the second level of single player that deserves mention. I somehow triggered a cutscene twice, which was followed by a wave of enemies running around many feet above the ground. After dispatching these levitating badguys, my character immediately died for no reason, and upon respawning, the whole thing happened again. I had to quit and reload to make it past the section properly. Here are some photos of the strange event: Oh, wait, for some reason Burning Skies disables the Vita’s screenshot ability, so I have no evidence of the bug!
It’s a shame that the Vita’s first FPS has come out so mediocre. On the one hand, it proves that such a title can be done on the system and gives me great hope for the future of the genre, but on the other hand, it’s just so uninspired and repetitive. Those looking for a true handheld FPS may enjoy it, but those looking for a good handheld FPS may want to wait a little longer.