First, let’s go with the good news – Resistance: Burning Skies is the best FPS we’ve ever played on a handheld device. It can’t come close to Resistance 3 in the looks department, but it’s fairly close to the original Resistance, and with dual analogue controllers to work with it just feels right. There’s no messing around with touchscreen aiming or trying to steer a reticule with a digital pad, you can just take all the skills you’ve learnt over years of playing console shooters and apply them straight away. Admittedly, accuracy on such small sticks isn’t quite up there with the Dual Shock 3 controller – let alone the mighty Xbox 360 pad – but it’s really very good.
The result is that Burning Skies is the first console FPS where we haven’t spent the first few hours fighting the controls or adjusting to the blocky graphics or clumsy movement. You start playing and you’re sucked right into the game.
Arming the Resistance
What’s more, while this isn’t an Insomniac project – development was undertaken by Nihilistic Software – Burning Skies still understands what makes Resistance special: the weapons. Guns in Resistance should never just go bang, and Burning Skies brings all the quirks and secondary fire modes we know and love, plus a few we don’t. That means we still get the Auger, with its X-ray targeting and burrowing rounds, the Bullseye, with its auto-targeting market shots, and the Folsom Carbine, with its under-slung grenade launcher, and but also new variations on the Marksman rifle and the Fareye sniper rifle, all with entertaining secondary fire modes, and a shotgun that doubles as a crossbow, complete with exploding bolts.
This means that in Burning Skies, as in any other Resistance game, you’re never short of entertaining ways In which to slaughter those nasty alien Chimera, but this time there are different ways of doing so. Burning Skies goes big on touch controls, from a little prod to swing a trusty fire-axe, to a neat drag-to-toss action for throwing grenades.
You tap the screen to tag an enemy for your Bullseye, swipe it diagonally to load a crossbow bolt, or drag across enemies to target them with a rocket launcher. This causes some issues in that it’s a challenge to do these things and keep your thumbs on the regular controls (unless you’re a contortionist or in possession of massive hands), but it gives the weapons some added flexibility and helps make up for Vita’s loss of two of the Dual Shock’s four shoulder buttons.
Defending New York
As with Resistance: Retribution on PSP, Burning Skies is a bit of side story, but at least this one factors better into the overall Resistance arc. This time you’re a simple New York fireman, caught up in the Chimeran invasion of the Big Apple between the events of Resistance: Fall of Man and Resistance 2. Not only do you have to contend with the Chimera, including one new type of alien scum, but dark forces from within more earthly authorities.
After Resistance 3’s gripping tale, this one feels underdeveloped. The fact that you’re a fireman doesn’t have a huge amount of bearing on the story, bar the fact that you’ve got a fire-axe and the odd bit early on when you get to rescue someone. The hook is supposed to be that you’re searching for your family, but you don’t really feel any sense of urgency about this, and the game functions more like a tour of battlegrounds, taking in the odd historic New York landmark – Ellis Island, the George Washington bridge – but mostly settling down into quite generic buildings, labs and rooftops.