The resistance series makes the jump to PlayStation Vita bringing a first person shooter experience that feels similar to that found in the series console counterparts. Insomniac haven’t worked on burning skies this time around; instead the game has been handled by Nihilistic who’ve used the already established sci-fi, alternate history universe to create their own story. Nihilistic are the first developers to take advantage of the Vitas dual analog. Making Burning skies the first true dual-stick shooter, after years of having handheld FPS that never quite work due to the lack of the second analog.
Burning skies Proves to be a competent shooter with a few technical issues, which cause some presentation problems. This doesn’t ruin the whole experience but is quite disappointing when compared to other resistance titles.
For the first time in the resistance series we play a character that is an ordinary citizen and not a solider like Nathan Hale and Joseph Capeli from previous Resistance titles. In Burning skies you play as Tom Riley, a NY firefighter working on Staten Island, Riley is caught up in the events of the Chimeran invasion of North America, during the attack on America’s East coast in August 1951. The story starts with Riley responding to an incident at a power plant, which is where he first encounters the Chimera that came down in the ship with the ship that crashed into the power plant. Riley fights through the power plant to recuse Smitty, a fellow NY firefighter, before escaping only to witness the chimera invading New York. Despite the initial shock of encountering an alien invasion, Riley is ordered to assist with in the evacuation of the city and reach the evacuation zone at Howard tunnel. Now concerned for the safety of his family Riley fights his way through the Chimera to reach his family, along the way Riley meets the minutemen a small resistance group led by Ellie Martinez. Upon reaching his family Riley is immediately torn away again to protect the evacuation zone after which Ellie comes across some grey tech components, that can be used for upgrading their weapons, before being bombarded by Spire missiles. Riley manages to escape with the Minutemen where he has little choice but to tag along, Riley now even more concerned for his families safety, requests Ellie’s help in trying to locate his family. Riley continues to fight against the chimera, but all he really wants is to be reunited with his family, despite Riley’s true motives it would appear he is involved in the interplanetary conflict much more than he expects.
After the initial set up of the game, finding out who Riley is and why he’s fighting the chimera, the story proves to be pretty thin and lacks any real emotional connection and character depth. The narrative is broken up through series of cutscenes, which tend to simply be conversations between Riley and Ellie for the most part, that tell you where you are and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s here where some of the games technical issues are present when some characters voices drop out causing information and conversation to be lost, because certain lines of dialogue fail to execute. This leads to you missing out on key information or plot points and doesn’t make following the overall story easy, breaking any chance of creating a consistent story and believable characters. When it all works though the games voice acting is well executed and adds to the experience giving you the chance to learn about each character no matter how thin their story may seem. The game has a nice orchestral soundtrack that helps create the games overall mood when used, so its a shame that for the majority of the game the only sound to be heard is Riley’s footsteps and gunfire. Nihilistic missed the opportunity here to emphasis and create a consistent mood throughout the game. Outside the in game cutscenes Burning skies uses a film reel framing device to recount your actions after each mission to push the narrative forward. These reels are all illustrated using an effective comic graphic style to give the game its own artistic style.
The game itself looks impressive with certain levels having a nice level of detail accompanied by sharp textures while other can appear a little bleak and bland. Environments tend to vary dramatically because of inconsistent texturing and lack of design causing them to appear empty, which can cause them to look fairly bland in places. Still environments appear sharp and the attention to detail given to the weapons is worthy of the Burning skies series brethren.
Nihilistic have done a good job of making a competent FPS using the dual analog and vitas other input controls to successfully execute traditional FPS mechanics. You can run, jump, crouch and take cover behind objects just like you would in other first person shooters. All that may sound boring but they’re all executed well and show off the precision offered by Vitas controls. Thanks to the precision found in the controls combat proves to be fun and entertaining and almost identical to what you would find in a console FPS apart from the lack of rear triggers. The lack of rear triggers doesn’t detract from gameplay because the Vitas touch screen provides the same functionality, giving you secondary fire and grenade targeting. Where you touch the screen and drag a cursor to aim your weapons secondary fire or grenade. For the most part the touch controls work fine but because you also use the front touch to open doors and pick up grey tech you might occasionally blow your self up, accidentally firing the carbines secondary fire, when you try to open doors. The front touch is also for Riley’s melee attack where he swings his signature axe to brutally take down un-expecting Chimera, Tapping the screen feels natural and responsive and apart from the odd miss fire tends to prove quite satisfying.
The game might play with precise and responsive controls but the enemy AI doesn’t really provide the challenge to match. Enemy AI is mediocre to say the least with enemies just standing there while you shoot them not bothering to take cover. In the event you do die chances are it will because of some silly mistake or being overwhelmed by a large numbers of enemies and not the actual enemy AI.
Burning skies proves to be a good game that can provide fun gameplay and if you can over come the odd technical issue you should definitely give it a go. Overall you get a chance to see that Vita can provide a great FPS experience and gives you the chance to play around with a nice arsenal of weapons all backed up with a set of tight and responsive FPS controls.
Burning skies offers competitive multiplayer over 3 modes deathmatch, team deathmatch and survival. The multiplayer works just as you would expect with the core FPS mechanics firmly in place with most games running smoothly with little to no lag. Multiplayer gives you a chance to keep playing after the campaign to level up your character, unlocking new weapons and load outs.