Jun 14, 2012

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Review: Resistance Burning Skies

Review: Resistance Burning Skies

It appears as though Resistance, once a flagship of Sony exclusivity for the company’s PlayStation brand, is falling by the waist-side.  No longer in the hands of acclaimed developer Insomniac, Resistance: Burning Skies, fails to catch fire at any point in the short duration of the game.

Developer Nihilistic’s story in the Resistance universe centers around fireman Tom Riley.  Riley finds himself caught in the middle of the Chimeran invasion of North America’s east coast, during 1951.  Fighting through the invasion forces to get his family back, Riley works with a resistance outfit to get to a Chimeran base where his family might be.  As players will learn, Riley has relatively little interest in saving the world in Burning Skies.  Instead, Riley’s concern is only for getting his family to safety.  The game takes players through six chapters and should not take players more than five or six hours to complete.

While it is refreshing, in a sense, to not experience the burden of trying to save the world in every single game, Nihilistic failed to give Tom Riley enough depth and personality to even make him feel like the main character.  As a result, fighting through the Chimeran hordes is an empty experience, and Riley as a character falls flat on his axe.

Burning Skies‘ saving grace might be the fact that it was the first, First-Person shooter to appear on the PS Vita and will therefore be seen as a learning experience, and purchased by those gamers who love first-person shooters.  There are some positives to take away from Resistance however because for the most part, the controls handled well, putting the Vita’s dual analog sticks to good use, feeling just like a shooter should.   Also noteworthy was Nihilistic’s use of the front touchscreen to deploy secondary  weapon features like Bullseye tracking and deploying Auger screens.   The Vita’s rear touch-panel is used for sprinting and not much else.

Fighting the same five chimera gets boring quickly, and the levels do nothing to make the experience even the slightest bit more interesting.  While one should not expect the screen to be packed with enemies, there are never more than five or six enemies Riley must deal with in one area.

The multiplayer aspect of Resistance: Burning Skies lacks one major component, a party system.  Should a player wish to play with a friend, the best he or she could hope for is luck, entering and exiting servers until the friend is found.  The multiplayer mode only packs three different gameplay modes; team deathmatch, deathmatch and survival, but it does allow for players to decide whether they want to play in a large server (8 players), or a small server (4 players) .  Even with these small numbers, getting in a game can be quite a chore, with the game sometimes failing to engage even with the necessary amount of players or once in a game, losing the connection.   Should you find a stable match, the experience is pleasant with the maps feeling just right size-wise, and relatively minimal lag to deal with.  Players are allowed three custom loadouts, and new weapons and accessories become unlocked with time.

One should also note that acquiring a platinum trophy for the game is childlike.  All of the game’s trophies can be acquired on the easiest difficulty level, and apart from the game’s bosses and flying chimera, you can beat the game just using the axe.  Throughout the game’s six chapters is what amounts to intel, but being able to collect all of it will not get you a trophy or unlock special weapons in the game.  There is absolutely no reason to play through the single-player campaign twice.

For fans of the series, it would be hard to recommend this game.  In fact, it may be for only the most hardcore Resistance fan.  Yes it is the first, first-person shooter, on the Vita, but there is just to much bad here, and not nearly enough good.  Tom Riley is not half the character Nathan Hale or Joseph Capelli was so the story will never captivate you.

Should Sony wish to save this franchise, it would be in its best interest to let it simmer for a while and reboot it with another development team in a couple of years.

Resistance: Burning Skies
Platform: PS Vita
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 05/29/12
Developer: Nihilistic
Publisher: Sony
ESRB Rating: T
MSRP: $39.99