It would be fair to say that the first-person shooter genre hasn’t really worked that well on handhelds. Whilst there have been some decent attempts, the lack of second analog stick for more precise and comfortable aiming has been a bit of a stumbling block. That is where the PlayStation Vita and Resistance: Burning Skies come in, trying to break the mould and finally make first-person shooters an enjoyable experience on a handheld.
As soon as you pick up the Vita and get your hands on Burning Skies, you can’t help but be greatly impressed by the visuals. It almost looks like your playing Resistance 2 on your PlayStation 3, which is a testament to the power of the Vita. Sure, the textures aren’t as detailed as a PlayStation 3 title and there is some slowdown during some of the action-packed scenarios, but apart from that Burning Skies runs really well on Sony’s new handheld.
Visuals aside, thanks to the second analog stick, the game also plays like a Resistance title on the PlayStation 3. There is an adjustment period of a minute or so, but after that movement and aiming via the dual analog sticks becomes second nature. The same sentiment applies when you’re using the Vita’s triggers to aim down the sight of your weapon. It feels slightly awkwards at first, but after 30 seconds or so, it almost feels like you’re trying to take down the Chimera on your PlayStation 3. Unlike the home console versions though, Burning Skies has a cover system. To get into cover all you have to do is crouch closely enough behind it, and you’ll automatically be attached. Once in cover, you can peek over and shoot enemies from the safety of cover by pressing the triggers. Detatching yourself from cover is just a case of moving away, it’s all very simple and well implemented.
Being Vita exclusive title, as you would expect, Burning Skies uses a few of the handheld’s unique features. The touch screen seems to have received the most attention, with melee attacks and grenade throws being activated via that method. Both actions work really well, thanks to the intuitive and clever implementation. To melee attack an enemy, all you have to do is press the axe icon on the screen, it’s as simple as that. You can press one of the triggers to perform the action as well, but because it’s so simple, you’ll be lured into using the touch screen method instead. Grenade throws work exactly like the melee attacks, but you can also drag your finger from the icon to where you would like to the explosive to land for that extra bit of accuracy. Finally, when you have access to a specific weapon, you can also tag enemies with homing missiles. To tag a single Chimera, all you have to do is touch the enemy and then press the right trigger to fire. However, when faced with multiple Chimera, you can swipe the screen in relation to where they are positioned, and then press the right trigger to take them all out at once. The latter method is extremely satisfying, and a good tool to have when you’re slightly outnumbered.
Even though the demo was the longest, early impressions of Resistance: Burning Skies are positive. It seems like a natural extension of the games on the PlayStation 3, and thanks to the dual analog sticks, it even plays like them too. The touch screen controls are well implemented, and actually add something extra to the gameplay rather than just being a gimmick. It’s early days at the moment, but if Burning Skies lives up to its potential then it could well end up being an essential PlayStation Vita title. Not only that, it could also usher in an era of decent, playable first-person shooters on a handheld.