Monday, July 2, 2012

Resistance: Burning Skies - Review


Along with series such as Uncharted and InFamous, the Resistance series is one of the Sony exclusive series that was developed for a more mature audience by one of the studios that brought us what might be some of your favorite childhood games. While Naughy Dog brought us Crash and Uncharted, and Sucker Punch brought us Sly and InFamous, Insomniac Games brought us games such as Spyro and now the mature rated game Resistance.

Back when it first came out on the PS3, Resistance was very well known for both its creativity and it's story telling. The story was set in a Pre WWII world, guns were unique combinations of different types of weapons, and the story telling was great. After gaining enough popularity for three main console games and a PSP side game, Resistance once again hits the markets, but this time not only was it developed by a different company, Nihilistic Software, it was released on the brand new PlayStation Vita. So, how does the Vita version hold up to its console counterparts? Well...

The Story of Burning Skies:

Resistance: Burning Skies story is told through two different means. The first being a comic style cutscene which plays before each level and is narrated by different characters, and the second is through the eyes of our main character, Fighter Fighter Tom Riley. At the very start of the game an alien race of creatures called the Chimera have already taken over most of the world, and they have now set their sights on taking over the United States. Despite knowing that the rest of the world has already fallen to these strange creatures, the US Government continues to spread lies to their citizens telling them that everything will be okay, and that in the "unlikely event of an attack," they are ready for it. Well, it turns out that isn't the case, and the US soon erupts into chaos. After going on a call to a burning building, Tom Riley soon finds himself face to face with a strange creature which has apparently attacked the rest of his firefighter coworkers. While not really knowing what was going on, Riley aims a gun at the creature and fires.

After rushing out of the building, Riley soon finds that his entire city is under attack by the very same type of creatures he saw inside the building, and it is then that finally understands what is going on; the Chimera have finally invaded the US and he must now fight for his life. Everyone in the city is being moved to safe houses, Riley is separated from his wife and daughter, and a resistance group takes up arms to fight back the threat; everything is in chaos and Riley gets caught up in the center of it all.

Although at first all hope seems to be lost, as Riley fights his way through the Chimera as he searches for his family, hope is soon restored to the world, and many more begin to join the fight. As time goes on Riley goes from being a single man searching for his family, to a living symbol of hope, and through his actions, lives are saved.

The Guns of Resistance:

Like in the PS3 titles, Resistance: Burning Skies has some very unique weapons which really help the game stand on its own. While in most games you'll find yourself using real world weapons such as the AK47, the M1911, or the M16, Resistances: Burning Skies goes down a completely different path.

The Fire Axe -

As one might expect, since Riley is a Firefighter he always has his trusty Fire Axe by his side. From smashing open doors, to smashing alien heads, the Fire Axe is the melee weapon of Burning Skies and it really packs a punch. Although it works a lot like knives, which are seen in most first person shooters, the Fire Axe is still a unique melee weapon of choice and it really helps you step into the shoes of our hero.

M5A2 Folsom Carbine -

What one might consider the only realistic weapon in the game. Just like you would expect, the M5A2 Folsom Carbine is... Well... A Carbine. It's a standard assault riffle, but with a built in grenade launcher. Everything about this weapon is basically what you would expect, but either way its a weapon that really packs a punch.

Bullseye -

The Chimeran standard weapon. Unlike the other two weapons I've already listed, this weapon truly is unique. While the standard fire mode is a lot like a SMG, it has an alternate fire mode which also makes use of the Vita's touch screen. By tapping on an enemy the Bullseye will shoot an alternate fire blast which will cause the gun to lock onto the enemy. Once the enemy has been locked onto, a beam will then shoot out of the gun, attack its self to the enemy, and then guide all of your shots directly to it. Low on health so you really can't come out of cover? No problem! Just lock onto the enemy, step behind cover, shoot, and watch your bullets curve around the corner and take that enemy out! Sure there is an ammo limit, as with all alternate fires, but this alternate fire is very unique and can really be a life saver.

Auger -

The Auger is another gun which can only be found in the Resistance universe. Although the gun only shoots a simple energy type blast, the gun has a built in screen that allows you to see through walls and objects, and not only that, it's shots can phase through these very same walls! By using the screen to see the enemies, you can then shoot your blasts through the walls and take them out without them even seeing you. Sure enemies that use this weapon can do the very same thing, but by using their own weapons against them you should be able to take them out first. Still it does take time for the shots to phase through walls and objects, so it does take a few seconds before the shot actually hits (which also gives you plenty of time to dodge when being shot at as well).

SixEye -

Although at first the SixEye may seem to be your standard sniper rifle, it really isn't. Besides being a sniper, the SixEye allows you to shoot a bomb at your enemies which will either explode on impact or when the switch is pressed on the touch screen. While in some ways it is a lot like the Carbine's GL, the SixEye's alternate fire is much more precise, and it gives you almost complete control over it. You can use your sight to aim as well!

Mule -

The Mule is another unique twist on a standard weapon. While normally the Mule is your standard shotgun, it also doubles as an exploding flaming crossbow! Yep that's right! By swiping backwards on the touch screen you can pull back the strings, load an arrow, and let it fly. The weapon is deadly at both close and long range, and it makes for the ultimate weapon in the online multiplayer mode.

Other Weapons and Upgrades -

Although there are in fact other weapons in Resistance: Burning Skies, I'm going to avoid talking about them in this review to avoid spoilers. The other weapons are some pretty crazy ones, and well worth seeing for yourself. Also another thing I failed to mention is the fact that weapons CAN be upgraded and modified. From turning guns into spread shots, to increasing guns attack power, mods do a wide verity of things, so it's best to just play around with them and see what suites you best.

The Gameplay:

Like you would expect from a first person shooter, Resistance: Burning Skies plays in a first person point of view, the left analog stick controls your movement, the right controls your aim, L allows you to aim, R allows you to fire, and the face buttons allow you to preform different in game actions. If you have ever played a FPS before in your life, everything should be familiar with the only true additions being the touch screen controls for your alternate fire and melee attacks.

Each level in Resistances begins with a cutscene explaining whats going on, and then normally ends in a huge boss battle. Along the way you'll fight many standard enemies, which can be killed by using different means (such as shooting out their energy supply), and you'll also come across hidden messages and upgrades as well. Really other than the unique weapons, Resistance: Burning Skies really doesn't do anything different than other shooters.

Levels only last around 30 minutes to an hour, characters will talk to you from time to time or give you orders, most of the time you'll follow a set path with very little exploration, and you will end up fighting the same enemies over and over again. Really the game is very limited, the story elements are very lacking, and for the most part it ends up being a game where you simply hide behind cover as you use your unique guns to kill the enemies. Sure there is a really nice cover system which allows you to peak around the corner and shoot, but not all cover is "perfect" cover, and you'll often find yourself in shoot outs where you have to race against the clock to kill the enemy before they kill you instead.

Even so the gameplay is what you would expect from a first person shooter, and it actually does hold up quite well on the Vita, despite being a hand held.

The Muiltiplayer:

Unlike most hand held shooters, Burning Skies actually features a full multiplayer mode. The multiplayer mode includes 8 maps, it includes a level up system which allows you to unlock the guns from the multiplayer, guns can be upgraded, and there are three modes to play.

Team Death Match -

Team Death Match is just what it says it is, and it can be played in either teams of two or teams of four. One side plays as humans, the other plays as aliens, and they both fight to the death hoping to reach the max amount of kills in order to win. Really this isn't much different than the team death match seen in other shooters, and it is the primary game mode.

Death Match -

Standard death match free for all. Either play with three others, or seven other players. Once again the goal is to reach the max amount of kills before the other players.

Survival -

The final mode which is unique to Burning Skies. In Survival two players start out as Chimerans, while the other players are humans who have to do everything they can to survival. If a human is to be killed by a Chimeran, the human then becomes a Chimeran. The last human standing, if they can survive, wins, or if all humans are turned into Chimeran, the Chimeran win. It's a lot like the infection modes seen in other games, but its also a mode where the Chimeran almost always win.

What Resistance: Burning Skies does right:

Resistance: Burning Skies is the first full fledged FPS on a Sony hand held, and for once, its a hand held shooter that does a lot of things right. Sure in the past I have played a few first person hand held games which were really good, but this one is a little bit different.

The addition of a right analog stick is a very much welcomed feature, and something a "console" first person shooter really shouldn't go without. Sure touch screen controls may be more precise, but by using a touch screen to control a game you really do limit yourself from using the face buttons; however by using a right analog stick, all the face buttons can easily be reached and both L and R buttons can be used.
The game actually PLAYS like a standard first person shooter complete with a single player and a multiplayer mode as well. There's different guns, there are different enemies to fight, there is a story which is told during gameplay, and the game actually looks really nice. Sure the textures may not be as detailed as on the console, but that doesn't change the fact that everything is nice and sharp, and you can actually tell what is going on around you!

In short, Resistance: Burning Skies plays JUST like a first person shooter, and that's something most first person shooter hand held games were unable to pull off. This game is not a cheap knock off, it is a shooter. Still... That may not always be enough.

Burning Skies might make you want to burn everything:

Don't let Resistance: Burning Skies fool you. Although the game's controls are great, the weapons are unique, and the story gives you an overall fun experience; Burning Skies is nowhere NEAR perfect.
First of all the game is very lacking. Levels are pretty short, they feel empty, exploration is very limited, and the types of enemies you face are very limited as well. Sure you got a lot of great guns to play around with, but that doesn't change the fact there really isn't much to play around with them on. Enemies show up, you shoot them down, and you then move onto the next room. If you get hit, take cover and heal, or simply shoot through a wall and clear everything out without worry. There really isn't that much too it at all.

The story is also a very lacking aspect of the game as well. The intro cutscenes to the levels (which cannot be skipped might I add) are told by different people which draws the story away from the main character, the main character himself only has a few spoken lines throughout the entire game, and most questions remain unanswered. Sure if you have played the rest of the Resistance series you may understand what is going on a little bit better, but if this is your first game in the series, you may end up becoming lost.

The multiplayer mode also really isn't that much better. Sure there's 8 maps and a few different game modes to play, but basically everything comes down to one simple fact. Shotgun wins. Every map is small, shotguns are basically one hit kill weapons, and since there is NO respawn time, it becomes a simple matter of running around with a shotgun shooting people only to have them respawn a second later and get their revenge. Sure snipers are also one hit kill weapons, but most of the time you can't distance yourself enough to even really use one. On top of all of that, you cannot communicate with your team or others unless you have them added as a friend and you invite them to a party...

Despite the major drawbacks I've already listed above, they really aren't the biggest problems this game faces. Yeah it's a bit disappointing to see how lacking the story was, and it's too bad that the multiplayer mode became shotgun heaven, but to top all of these problems off is the simple fact that, as I said before, the levels are short. According to PSN, I actually earned my first trophy of the game at 3:44 PM, and I earned the Platinum trophy at 9:44 PM of the very same day. Yep that's right, in one day I was able to get every single trophy the game has to offer, and beat the game. Minus the two hours I took a break from playing, the game only took me about 4 hours to 100% on "hard mode."

All trophies are unlocked by simply playing the main story, and by playing one online match, since the levels are so linear it is near impossible to miss the extras "hidden" throughout each level, and the harder mode you get from beating the game is pretty pointless. Sure if you want the challenge, then it may be worth replaying (after all you could easily beat it again in a few hours), but it really just doesn't add to the game that much. The story mode ends up becoming something you'll play one time, and then ditch for the shotgun happy online mode.

Is Burning Skies worth it:

Really its hard to say. The game is actually a pretty fun hand held shooter, and you will get a few hours of entertainment from it. The game does look pretty nice, the weapons are fun, what little story there is actually isn't too bad, and I actually really liked the survival online mode. If you're a die hard shooter fan who's willing to try anything, you'll most likely like Resistance: Burning Skies, however if you're someone who's looking for a long game with a great story, then you should stay away from this game at all costs.

It's a nice simple shooter, and an easy game to get a platinum trophy in, but it just doesn't live up to Resistance 1-3. If you can get a good deal on this game, it's at least worth checking out, but it really isn't a game you should drop 40 bucks on unless you are a die hard Resistance fan who simply wants to own all of the games. Really though, if you are a Resistance fan, you may end up hating the game more than someone who's new to the series.

So in the end, despite its flaws, I DID enjoy the game, but it's also a game I really don't plan on going back to. Maybe I'll pick it up from time to time for the online mode, but the story mode really has nothing left to offer me.

Resistance: Burning Skies gets a 6/10.

It was nice while it lasted, but you can't help but think that they could have done so much more.

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