The traditionally taut action of the Resistance series goes disappointingly slack in Burning Skies.
- Solid competitive multiplayer
- Interesting implementation of touch controls.
- Struggles to replicate the combat intensity of previous games in the series
- Serious connection issues deny access to multiplayer
- Campaign story and characters are uninteresting
- Dull visuals.
When the world you know is being overrun by ferocious hordes of murderous aliens, things can get frantic. The Resistance series has always done a great job of complementing its dire circumstances with equally fraught action, but in Burning Skies, both elements lack their usual luster. The story fails to capture the desperation of humanity's plight, and your Chimeran enemies attack with patterned diligence as opposed to the swarming intensity of Resistances past. There are some fun guns to shoot and a competent online multiplayer offering, but if Burning Skies is any indication of the fervor with which we would fight for our survival, humanity is in trouble.
The problems start with your enemies. From foot soldiers to jetpack jockeys and dog-sized arachnids to truck-sized berserkers, the Chimera are an ugly bunch that have a reputation for attacking in substantial numbers with startling ferocity. Their vigor has long fueled the frantic combat of the Resistance series, but in Burning Skies, the Chimera seem to have lost much of their appetite for destruction. Squads are smaller and less aggressive, and if you can find a solid place to take cover, you can safely potshot your way through most encounters. Move aggressively against an entrenched enemy, and you'll be in danger, but many enemies spawn in and take a few long seconds to fire on you, leaving you plenty of time to jog up to them and hit them in the head with your axe by tapping a conveniently located onscreen icon.
This lackadaisical attitude is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of the action takes place in corridors. From a visual standpoint, these areas are drab and repetitive; Burning Skies is not a pretty game. The dull industrial areas and ubiquitous blurry rubble do not make a good showcase for the Vita's capabilities. From a gameplay standpoint, the aforementioned corridors are perfect places to use your shotgun or melee attack, both of which kill in one hit. There's certainly some satisfaction in dispatching your enemies with casual efficiency, but Burning Skies spends too much time running you through these lopsided scenarios.
Fortunately, there are times when the balance swings back the other way. Later levels use the more spacious areas to better effect, and the variety and quantity of enemies demand that you sit up and pay attention. There's a light cover mechanic you can make use of by simply crouching behind a low barrier or sidling up to a corner wall, letting you poke your iron sights out to pick off your advancing foes and allowing you some breathing room to make better use of your enjoyable arsenal.
Series standbys like the carbine, bullseye, and auger return, bringing with them regular bullets, bullets that can home in on enemies, and bullets that can travel through walls, respectively. Though Burning Skies doesn't debut any particularly clever or brutal weaponry like Resistance 3 did, the new shotgun/crossbow combo is handy at close range, while the burst fire rifle and its auto-targeting drone can help you control a large room. Effectively taking down the more formidable waves of foes usually requires juggling different weapons while repositioning yourself and slinging a few grenades for good measure. It's a gratifying feeling to pile the ferocious dead at your feet.
The more creative (and more powerful) secondary fire options on each weapon make your eight-weapon arsenal feel bigger than it really is, and the upgrade options can help you pack an extra punch. The dual analog sticks of the Vita are perfectly suited to the first-person action, though tapping the screen to trigger your secondary fire or to throw grenades definitely takes some getting used to. At first it's awkward, and you might have a few misfires while attempting to tap onscreen prompts, but before long you get the hang of it, and it works just fine. There are even some weapons, notably the bullseye, for which tapping is actually an easier way to take advantage of their full capabilities (that is, tapping enemies to tag them rather than getting them in your sights and pulling the trigger).
The short campaign takes place during the invasion of New York City. This is the first time the US has suffered direct Chimeran aggression, and there are some interesting glimpses of the preparation and misinformation campaigns that preceded this inevitable event. Quasi-animated comic images chronicle the chaos between missions, but jagged edges and ghostly geometry clutter up these simple sequences. You play as Tom Riley, a firefighter who just wants to save his daughter, his wife, and every other human he encounters (hello, contrived campaign detours!). His one-note humble heroism shtick is boring, and his homegrown militia companion, Ellie, does little to liven things up. Even the return of radio man Henry Stillman is a disappointment; his heart-wrenching monologues in Resistance 2 evoked the despair of a country overrun, but here, his by-the-book broadcasts fail to channel the panic of a nation under attack.
Once you've completed the campaign, you can go back and battle through it on a harder difficulty level, but your increased fragility doesn't do much to improve the action. Going online for some multiplayer competition is a good way to find a more dynamic challenge, though the options are limited to deathmatch, team deathmatch, and survival (every human is converted to a Chimera when killed until no humans remain). Up to eight players can compete on an array of small, well-designed maps. As you earn experience for success in battle and level up, you unlock all the weapons from the single-player campaign, and experience-boosting "infections" that pass from player to player can speed your progress.
Though fairly basic, the multiplayer action in Burning Skies is solid and satisfying. The array of weapons in play varies from game to game, and making good use of grenades, secondary fires, and salvaged firearms is key to success, especially when playing against higher level players with deadlier guns. You can die quickly and kill quickly, and this imbues the action with a welcome urgency. There are some issues that crop up, like missing sound effects and inconsistent explosives, but on the whole, this compact multiplayer suite delivers nicely.
That is, if you can get into a match. Pre-release multiplayer sessions yielded hours of entertaining matches with no network issues, but retail release has put a serious strain on Burning Skies. In hours of trying, we were only able to join one active lobby, and similar matchmaking issues are widely reported.
Technical issues may abate, but this entry in the Resistance series still falls well short of its pedigree. Burning Skies leaves little doubt that the Vita is a comfortable home for first-person shooters, but the platform's first FPS is disappointingly dated. Toothless enemies and simplistic level design make for tepid campaign action, and the solid multiplayer suite is too limited to be a big draw. There is definitely some fun to be had in Resistance: Burning Skies, but the series, the system, and the poor citizens of alternate-reality New York City deserve better.
@Dice2119 wow really I just tryed the game and I really enjoyed it. I found it more entertaining than resistance 2. I don't normally see such a difference between my experience playing a game and a review. Normally its "yeah its bad but still fun" but this one is so extreme I really enjoyed it. I might just buy it. so far i'm giving it an 8.0
Its really sad to see a console with such an awesome potential go down like this.It is more than just capable of destroying that piece of shit 3DS.
And the reason why I cancelled my plans to buy a VITA was serious doubt about the games available on it.I kind of felt that it might end up like PSP with only about 20 good games.So far there didn't seem to be any good ones except for Mortal kombat,with uncharted getting 7.0 and all.An advise for the devs: never confuse Vita with tablet gaming just because it has got touch and motion sensing.You should make full use of the dual analog.Make the gaming experience on VITA exactly similar to that of a heavy weight console except with lower graphics.
@gamefreak215jd AC Liberation, Little Big Planet, Uncharted, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale and Sly Cooper Thieves in Time are great games for PS Vita, while the rest are not that good. Still, I'll buy the console for these games and I'm sure there will be more good games for Ps Vita.
I just recently pick up Burning Skies and it's a solid game. The multiplayer struggles quite a bit, but it has it's shining moments too. Also, the net code is lackluster at best and can be tune up a bit. I enjoyed the story mode and the guns were definitely fun to play with. I would recommend Burning Skies to any FPS fan with PS Vita handheld.
Not as polished as I wished it to be but still an enjoyable game. Also Chris has done a nice review that is actually quite correct and honest, I just don't know where the 5.5 comes from? Definitly a 7-7.5 game.
And it IS the first REAL FPS for a handheld cosole, showing other developers the right way. For that alone, this game deserves praise.
grrrrrrrrr stupidity swarms all over the place!!!
for the nth time.........a handheld game CANNOT BE COMPARED TO A CONSOLE GAME! just because of that Resistance tag on the game, it falls short in every aspect!
I got it used for about $30 but I have to admit that I enjoyed it more than I expected. Then again, I'm not a big FPS guy so my expectations weren't very high. I have purchased a few high profile FPS titles on my DS and PSP and this is easily the best one I've tried. Then again, there probably wasn't much competition for the title.
I played through the game and beat it in two sittings. The campaign is very short, however I did enjoy it. The story I didn't care for, but the game was fun while it lasted. It's worth a play through, but not while it's $40.
i bought this game after enjoying the demo. I can say that its an excellent game.It may not be in the same league as its console brethren, but its definitely better than this review gives it. I give i an 8.0.
I AM SORRY THIS GAME ROCKS! AND TO ALL THE HATERS YOU NEED TO SLOW IT AND STEP BACK AND REMEMBER THIS IS A PORTABLE GAMING SYSTEM AND WITH THAT SAID THIS GAME KICKS BUTT!
Woah. A 5.5.? Seriously.? No matter, I'm still buying this gem once I get a PS Vita. I love the Resistance franchise and while Burning Skies might not be the best handheld FPS, what handheld FPS is.? The fact that Sony made a handheld with two sticks to make games such as FPS easier to play should alone give merit to a title like this. I agree with a previous poster, the game looks deserving of a 7.5, but not a 5.5 IMO.
@Jyakotu you can't really say that if you haven't played it... the game WAS pretty bad... the pretty fun multiplayer was the only redeeming factor.
its not bad, the point of the alien weaponry is that like in the ps3 versions they sound and act like alien weaponry, the oulse rifle was fun to use in the 1st edition. Psp version lacks something, visually impressed, and i was surprised, non the less at 40 quid i expected better.
Just got done playing this and it was good fun. I forced myself to replay each level until I found every piece of intel before allowing myself to proceed to the next, and still found repeating the levels good fun.
i am not dissapionted at all with burning skies, people say its crap because they asked for a full fledged console fps experience and while it does lack that substantial amount of polish, im not disapointed coz i asked for a resistance game AND I GOT A RESISTANCE GAME
To me it looks like R2 with the multi weapon inventory system with an upgrade system, even though its not the original devs, how often do you use a fireman's axe on an alien? better than a knife.
I bought the game a few days ago. I found the game great entertainment on a great handheld system! It is not the worlds greatest FPS I will agree, a few bugs here and there, but it does not deserve 5.5!
@erskinesix I'm sure that if it was a COD game, they would give it at least an 8.5 rating.
damn, so all nihilistic had to do was call it call of duty: burning skies and theis games an instant 8.5, damn oh well i liked it
Just wish they make PS3 dual pack for Retribution and Burning Skies...
Like God of War: Origins perhaps.
I was complaining about preordering this game and then reading this review, but in short I'm glad I got the game. No other handheld plays a real FPS multiplayer like this. I'm excited to see a more polished game in the future
@nonfanboygamer1 seriously, the multiplayer's the best. although knifing is soooo cheap, it takes skill.
I think a fair number of the people complaining abour scores are being a bit too touchy. I was skeptical about some of scores of the vita's launch lineup here (like Uncharted, Wipeout, and Hot Shots Golf) until I played the games myself. I have a feeling that I'd agree strongly with the review scores if I had the game. As it stands, this is def one of those bargain bin games for me.
The Vita is having a worse first year than the 3DS. At least Nintendo tarnish their franchises. Sony really has to step up at E3 and admit their mistakes and improve the games for the Vita.
hmm, doesn't sound like VITA is off to a good start. Dont believe ill be picking one up. Get your act together SONY.
@PDXmauler97 i know ur post was 4 months ago,but by the end of the year of 2k12,and on 2013,theyre going to have bunch of wonderful games,they mean it this time.... soul sacrifice,fifa13,killzone mercenary,etc...
@criticalmigz Ya definitely. When I wrote this, the best game VITA had was a knock off of Uncharted. With a new AC game coming, fifa 13, and the new killzone which looks beautiful, VITA should start becoming more popular. That Blops game that is coming out looks like trash tho. :D
Most of you guys that is hating haven't even played the game, you can't hate on chris just because he played a game that wasn't good. You guys are just being stupid....
@lonkilanki actually most of the people who disagree with Chris, HAVE played the game. That's why we disagree. Nobody's hating on anyone (well, some might be but I'm not one of them). So, who's being stupid again?
woooow, I'm appalled!!! I've been a gamer all my life, and I know a good game when I play it. Coming from an actual portable gaming device, this game is STUNNING!!! The graphics alone is AMAZING!!! I've played other resistance games and they were great too, but for a vita release, this shows the potential of the ps vita. Only issues I have are those random few hundred ft. falls (I'm exaggerating) and surviving them during the cutscenes, and the easy boss fights. And I haven't even played the multiplayer yet. This game deserves at least a 7.5
@tr1n1tr1n1 I agree I'm shocked at all the bad reviews. This is not one of those "yeah i know its bad but still fun" type of games. It's truly a great game. Play the demo at least.
seriously if no one played the game, then i dont see why u have to bash the game even more. i played the game today been on it for about 3hrs now. and honestly it is not a bad game at all, not perfect, doesnt capture the WHOLE feel of what resistane is all about, but honest to god it is not as bad of a game. its actually fun, i can see myself playing through the story mode again once i finish it.