Resistance: Burning Skies Review

Title: Resistance: Burning Skies
Developer: Nihilistic
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 2.9 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: No

The PlayStation Vita is home to many different genres of games.  Each of those genres has gotten its fair share of games, though many are criticized for how the developers have made those games.  There is criticism in general, but the First-Person Shooter genre has gained a substantial amount of criticism, especially towards developer Nihilistic Software, whom brought two huge franchises to the PlayStation Vita in the form of first-person shooters.  One such game was Resistance: Burning Skies.

The Resistance franchise has been gaining in popularity over the years.  Originally a PS3 franchise, the series has branched out.  Now, it has three games on the PlayStation 3, one on the PlayStation Portable, and now another on the PlayStation Vita.  Resistance: Burning Skies dropped onto the Vita as Nihilistic’s first attempt at creating a First-Person Shooter on the PlayStation Vita.  Despite fan reaction, how does Burning Skies stand up to other games in the franchise, or even the genre itself?  Let’s find out.  Here is our official review of Resistance: Burning Skies.

Story

The story of Burning Skies is a little easier if you know the backstory for the franchise, in general.  In Resistance, we see a world back around the 1950s in the midst of an alien invasion from a race known as the Chimera.  They were first found in Russia, when all contact with the country went down.  Most countries thought nothing of it, until the Chimera, with enormous ships, flew straight out of Russia and began a conquest of the rest of the world.  First, they hit Europe, and soon, set their sights on the United States.  Almost no one even saw them coming until it was too late, already attacking cities and converting humans into their own.

Resistance Burning Skies takes place during the Chimeran Invasion of the United States of America.  Tom Riley, a firefighter, is caught up in the middle as the Chimera drop down as he is racing through a building fire, trying to rescue civilians and, coincidentally, his own team of firefighters.  After fighting through Chimera and realizing they were dropping everywhere and invading the city, he meets up with Ellie Martinez, part of a resistance group of the military that knew the Chimera were coming and tried to prepare.

The Story of Resistance Burning Skies follows Tom Riley as he journeys with Ellie as he searches for his family, whom fled the city with more survivors, when the Chimera attacked.  It takes him from Ellis Island to a Protection Camp to a Conversion Tower, and pits him against wave after wave of Chimeran forces, both large and small.

The story of Resistance: Burning Skies is not ground-breaking, but more of the story of one man who made a difference to show the population that anyone can make a difference and strive to protect the people they love.  This isn’t a big breaking-point in the war like Resistance Retribution or the other games were, but more of a side-story for one man who made a difference.  That tale isn’t extraordinarily emotional, but does have its moments that will tug your heart strings.

Gameplay

Resistance: Burning Skies, much like Resistance 1, 2, and 3, is a First-Person Shooting game.  You will see Tom Riley’s actions from his own eyes as he traversed through environments, jumps and crawls his way through obstacles and, of course, guns his way through more Chimera that you could care to count.  It has all the basics of a First-Person Shooter, from sprinting to an arsenal of weapons to the ability to regenerate health by taking cover.

The game is set up with levels and stages, but they are shown in the form of one, long adventure.  Stages cannot be replayed once you beat them.  You are just in an environment after a cinematic cutscene, you play through each stage until you finish it and get another scene, which is normally after one of the many Boss fights of the game.

As you travel through the game, you will come across Checkpoints after completing objectives, which serve as respawn points, in case you are taken down.  Once your Health reaches zero, you will restart at the last checkpoint.  This is useful, particularly towards the end of the game, when the game gets more difficulty and the waves of enemies you face become larger and more formidable, requiring careful and tactful use of the available weapons and ammunition in your arsenal.

Weapons can be equipped, one at a time, and are discovered as you traverse through the game and find them.  There are seven firearms total that you can use, along with side-weapons for each of those firearms and the Hedgehog Grenade, which is used to toss at the enemy and skewer anyone nearby.  The firearms are familiar weapons that have been in past games of the series, notably Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2.  The main exclusive weapon to Falling Skies is the Fire Axe, a melee weapon that performs a one-hit kill on almost any enemy it comes into contact with, along with breaking objects to clear paths for you.

Another big element of the game for weapons is the ability to upgrade weapons. When you are moving throughout the game, you will come across items called Grey Tech.  These are pieces of advanced technology once used by the Chimera that you can use to unlock an upgrade for one of your weapons.  These are scattered throughout the game, so you can unlock multiple upgrades per weapon in a single playthrough.

There are also two types of upgrades.  There are more offensive upgrades and more systematic upgrades.  Some weapon upgrades could include a scope, bigger clip, more side-weapon ammunition, or a faster reload time.  The tricky part of this is that you may only have one of each upgrade type equipped at one time.  You could have all of the upgrades unlocked, but only be capable of equipping two of them at a time.

There simply aren’t enough Grey Tech pieces in the campaign to upgrade everything on all weapons, so there is use for the New Game + option that the game provides.  This allows you to go into a new game with all of your weapons and upgrades that were available from the previous game.  You can also do this with any of the four difficulty levels.

Other Game Modes include the Intel section, which allows you to read through information on enemies, locations, and various pieces of intel you can collect as you travel through the game.  Another Mode is Multiplayer.  This allows Online Deathmatches over Wi-Fi connections.  While the Multiplayer doesn’t play badly, it doesn’t offer many different game modes.  The game also uses the Online Pass system, so you need to download an Online Pass to be able to use the multiplayer.  It’s fun, though there isn’t a whole lot of variety of what you can do.

Speaking of difficulty, the game is definitely something anyone can pick up and play.  The four difficulties are pretty varied.  If you’re new to First—Person-Shooters, you can jump into the easy difficulty and not have a whole lot of trouble.  I’m not so good at shooting games, and was able to get through most stages on the easiest difficulty with little to know problems until I got near the end of the game.  Ammo was plentiful and there was enough cover to recover health and jump back out to take down more of the waves of Chimera set in each individual area.

The main downside to playing Resistance: Burning Skies is how short the game is.  If you had a lot of time on your hands, you could easily beat the game in a single day.  To go through the Single Player campaign would likely take you no more than 4-6 hours.  That being said, it’s a relatively short experience, especially if you don’t get into the multiplayer part of the game.

Controls

The controls of a First-Person Shooter is very important when being played on a handheld system.  The PlayStation Vita doesn’t have as many buttons as systems like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.  When systems like that use most of the buttons available to them, it’s not easy to bring the same kind of experience to handhelds like the Vita when they have less to work with.

Controlling Riley is done with the two Analog Sticks.  The Left-side Analog Stick lets you walk and run in various directions, while the Right-side Analog Stick is used to move your aim.  This is pretty standard controls for a shooting game.  Along with movement, you can also dash for a short time.  This is done wither with the Down Button on the D-Pad or by double-tapping the Rear Touch Panel.

The face buttons are used both for movements and actions regarding cover and weapons.  The X button is used to jump, which can get you over and past obstacles.  The Circle button lets you crouch down two levels and also lets you crawl through tight spaces.  This is best used when taking cover to recover health when you’re in the middle of fighting off waves of Chimera.

The other two face buttons are associated with weapons.  The Square Button allows you to reload your currently selected weapon, and the Triangle button lets you switch to the last-equipped weapon.  If you hold down Triangle, you can also bring up a Weapon Wheel, where you can select whatever weapon you wish to equip next.  The L and R buttons are also associated with weapons, letting L focus with your aim, and R to fire off shots.

The only weapons that don’t use buttons are the Fire Axe and Grenades.  Those are used by tapping areas on the right side of the touch screen that have icons there for each of those weapons.

The controls aren’t bad, but some of it feels awkward.  An example of this is tapping the Down button to start a dash.  It feels like your whole feel stops for a moment and has to readjust every time you press that button to dash, and double-tapping the rear touch panel takes a good bit of time to get the feel for.  The touch screen commands for the Axe and Grenades also take some getting used to.

Presentation

As far as visuals go, Resistance: Burning Skies was an exceptional and smooth game for the PlayStation Vita.  The game took on what looks like the engine that was used in Resistance: Retribution, but made the perspective First-Person and smoothed out everything and added more detail to each character model.  If you take a look at screenshots, there are no rough edges to be found.  Everything looks smooth, from the gun outlines to the enormous Chimera bosses.

One thing that is of note is the Load Times for the game.  Each time you load a new mission or environment, you’ll be waiting a bit for it.  The load times aren’t awful, like 30+ seconds, but you will be waiting a bit for each place to load.  Once the mission starts, though, it will be smooth sailing.  Everything loads automatically throughout each section and you will not need to stop playing to wait for the game to load.

Overall

Resistance: Burning Skies has all of the basics a First-Person Shooter needs and manages to bring that experience to the PlayStation Vita.  While the game’s controls feel awkward at times, and the game’s length has much to be desired, considering its PSP predecessor was substantially longer.  If you love the series, or want a user-friendly FPS on the go, Resistance Burning Skies is a decent choice.  Otherwise, those expecting a hard-core FPS experience will be disappointed.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Resistance: Burning Skies a 6/10.

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