June 3, 2012
The story focuses on Tom Riley, a fireman who's caught right in the middle of the Chimeran invasion of North America. In the ensuing chaos, Tom decides to be a hero, helping the Minute Men (a militia group) to fight off the Chimera. As a result, he gets separated from his wife and daughter.
Riley doesn't have the same appeal of any of the previous protagonists though. He's certainly no Nathan Hale or James Grayson. Their feats were also more justifiable, while Riley's are rather far-fetched. The amount of stuff that happens in the story that Riley's involved with, it's rather crazy. And all of this considering he's a fire-fighter with, what seems to be no military background whatsoever.
By the end of the story you'll be left wondering how most of what happened was even possible. There's no real explanation for it. Sure, the impetus was meant to be that anyone can make a difference in the fight against the Chimera - you don't need to be a SRPA agent to make a stand. And Nihilistic certainly shouldn't be criticised for wanting to show the Resistance story from a more grounded perspective. It just didn't work out that way at all due to the ridiculous exploits of the grounded individual they chose as their story focus.
Unlike Resistance Retribution, Burning Skies didn't have to compromise very much on the gameplay experience. This means Nihilistic were able to create a full-on first-person shooter with twin analogue sticks as the main control method - a massive plus. What it also means though, is that we ended up with the Vita's motion controls being shoved in.
There's nothing wrong with pushing the capabilities of the hardware, but in the case of Burning Skies, it's more of a hindrance than anything else. Superfluous is the perfect word to sum it all up. Want to walk through a door or pick something up? In most instances, games would ask you to press a button to execute this action. In Burning Skies, you have to touch the object on-screen instead. It's an annoyance, because it means one of the analogue sticks has to be ignored to do this. You can either choose to use a normal finger, or your thumb - either way is much more cumbersome than hitting X would have been.
The same also applies to the weapons. Firstly, there's very little originality here at all - the weapons are all derivatives or others seen before in the franchise. Secondly, if you want to use a secondary fire, you have to touch the screen in some way or another. For example, if you want to use an Auger Shield, this means you have to make a gesture. If you want to fire a Bullseye tag, you've got to point where you want it to go on the screen. It's novel, but again, very cumbersome. If you're in the middle of an intense fire fight, the last thing you want to be doing is releasing your aiming ability to use a weapon's secondary fire.
If you get set on by a group of Advanced Chimera, you'll be wanting to just shoot them as quickly as possible - not fiddle about trying to cook a grenade. That's only an option once you get behind cover and time isn't so important any more. In a traditional shooter, you can just use secondary fire options when you want.
It's ok for slower-paced battles, but you wouldn't really need to use the functionality then anyway. On the positive side, the game does slow down to cater for this, but it's still annoying.
It just highlights the consistent problems with Burning Skies. The game does very little to try and push the franchise on. Instead, it attempts to ride the coat tales of the games that have come before.
There's no discernable reason why either. Surely the point of this title should have been to try and showcase what the Vita can do, to make a stand-out game worthy of the Resistance franchise. Not a game that has very little originality and is riddled with poor design choices.
Enemies will constantly bug out - running into walls, shooting at random things and in general, not working properly. If you use an Auger to look at what enemies are actually doing when you can't visibly see them, it's rather comical - for the wrong reasons. Sounds also break and textures don't load - it's just a really poor advert for the system sometimes.
Throwing in the graphical presentation doesn't help either. The PlayStation Vita is supposed to be a games console which is a handheld powerhouse and Burning Skies doesn't showcase it very well. Perhaps the expectation has been set too high, but with the poor quality of animation and textures, it's difficult not to be disappointed here.
When it comes to replay value, Burning Skies earns some positive points. There's a full multiplayer component here and if you've got a hankering for some multiplayer action on the PlayStation Vita, this could be the place where you can scratch that itch. It's not quite up to the standard of a full-on console experience, but it's got plenty to keep you occupied for a while. You can also collect intel too.
There's no getting around the fact that Resistance: Burning Skies is a disappointment. Anyone hoping for a game which really furthers the Resistance franchise should look elsewhere, as there's very little originality. Even the story is poor, with Tom Riley not being able to fill the shoes of Hale, Grayson or even Capelli. Still, if you want a multiplayer offering on the PlayStation Vita, Burning Skies has that covered. Just don't expect much else from it.