Although Sony’s two principal PS3 shooters series were adapted into a pair of PSP titles, substantial changes were required to accommodate the subordinate hardware. From the top-down perspective used to depict Helghast homicide in Killzone: Liberation to Resistance: Retribution’s simplified third-person aiming, both games offered valiant interpretations of their respective franchises. Before the release of Resistance: Burning Skies for the PS Vita, many assumed that the twin sticked, graphically adept portable was capable of delivering a concession-free experience, and anticipated the title delivering console-quality action. Although the game may engross software-starved owners hoping for first-person shooting on the go, a number of deep-seated deficiencies make Burning Skies feel decidedly dated.
Whereas Resistance 3 frequently served up open battlefields for players to engage in Chimera carnage, Burning Skies’ early stages often relegate players to linear pathways- restricting travel with the sporadic invisible wall. Abundant environmental objects divulge how the title is to be played, urging players to take cover by ducking behind a barrier or hugging a corner. From a shielded position, a press of the left trigger brings up the iron sights allowing players to blast any six-eyed scum to bits, with a tap on the direction pad permits gamers to extend their gun barrel around bends. Unfortunately, the Chimera obey strict path finding techniques allowing players to exploit the game’s lackluster AI and easily mow down processions of obedient foes. Likewise, players can periodically plink away at elevated enemies while not even surfacing from cover. Other antagonists either pop up like gophers or simply stand in place while unleashing a barrage of bullets.
Compounding the enemy’s absence of adaptability is the quantity of simultaneous attackers. While console iterations of Resistance offered up legions of incensed invaders, Burning Skies produces small groups of respawning antagonists, sullying any sense of fighting against an overwhelming offensive. Mercifully, the intensity does heat up during the concluding stages of the title’s six-stage campaign as the players is thrust into open areas which are often devoid of protective positions.
Generally, the game’s controls are efficient, giving players an advantage over encroaching aggressors. FPS enthusiasts will find that the Vita’s analog sticks offer an intuitive method to move and aim, offering players the ability to tweak the control scheme to their liking with acceleration and sensitivity settings. With face buttons entrusted with rudiments like jumping, crouching, reloading and weapon selection, Burning Skies utilizes the system’s touchscreen for supplemental functions. From marking an opponent with a Bullseye tag or SW.A.R.M. Rockets, throwing a grenade, or interacting with the environment, players will frequently be asked to touch and swipe the Vita’s screen. For players with diminutive digits, this means that you’ll be prone as your fingers are removed from the controls. Those with larger hands will obscure some of the on-screen action as the engage the secondary functionary of their arsenal.
Even the game’s signature propaganda-influenced cut scenes oblige an occasional tap, to prevent the Vita from dimming its screen in anticipation of sleep mode. Beyond being unskippable, these cinematics suffer from noticeable artifacting. While these sequences do establish Burning Skies’ context between the first two console titles, they reveal little about our new main hero, Tom Riley. Most of what we learn about the firefighter steams from his chivalrous in-game actions, or his hackneyed motivation to save his wife and daughter from imminent harm. Lacking the depth of Nathan Hale, Riley’s representation of a selfless heroism and unflinching bravado offer little more that action figure characterization.
Complementing the seven hour, single player campaign, Burning Skies offers a trio of multiplayer competitive options. With Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Survival- where fragged foes are reincarnated as Chimera until a single human remains, eight participants can enjoy habitually lag-free, Party voice-chat capable contests. Save for a glitch that renders gunfire at full volume regardless of how far away the discharge is from the player and the ability to spawn camp, the title’s maps show promise. With the ability to unlock weapons from the main storyline and earn XP-multiplying bonuses via Near, the game’s frantic online combat is where Skies truly shines.
Graphically, the title is moderately impressive, exhibiting smoke and ember effects amidst its detailed texture maps. Evidently, Burning Skies decision to limit the number of concurrent on-screen foes aids the game in maintaining a steady framerate, even during fierce firefights. Weapon models are especially eye-pleasing, with customizable mods showing up on-screen. Sonically, the title is elevated by a stirring symphonic score which accentuates key sequences. Regretfully, this soundtrack isn’t used often enough, and even abruptly ends during pivotal set pieces.
With elements such as far-flung checkpoints, effortlessly exploitable A.I, and ammo which is inexplicably littered around the edges of each stage, Resistance: Burning Skies core campaign can feel like a FPS from the mid 2000’s. While far from unplayable, the title’s weakness is that is doesn’t deliver any innovation, content in offering a serviceable imitation of the 2007 console title. Similarly, Burning Skies’ multiplayer component doesn’t break any new ground, but fighting against human opponents allows the game to showcase its devastating weaponry and attractive visuals.