Portable first-person shooters haven't had the best reputation. A good number of them appeared on the PSP, but the lack of a second analog stick prevented any chance of widespread critical acclaim. Of course, the Vita now allows for full dual-analog gameplay. Will the upcoming Resistance: Burning Skies be the game that will give on-the-go gamers that console-style FPS experience they've been craving?
At a Sony preview event last week, I had a chance to play the first-ever playable version of Burning Skies' online multiplayer. Playable via Wi-Fi only, the game will include three modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and an as-of-yet announced mode called Survival. The game will support up to 8 players for 4 vs. 4 games as well as 2 vs. 2 games across six maps set in various locales of New York City. As is now standard for online FPS games, players can accumulate XP through kills, with killstreaks offering XP bonuses. Progression allows players to level up characters and unlock new upgrades for their weapons, of course. Voice chat was not available during the demo, but I was told Vita's built-in microphone or Bluetooth headset can be used.
The event featured a relatively straightforward eight-player deathmatch. The game controls quite nicely; the shooting mechanics are responsive and movement controls are tight and fast. And to no one's surprise, the second analog stick improves aiming tremendously and definitely helps to complete the FPS experience. I am not a big fan of huge maps and the one I was placed in was just the right size, especially for an eight-person match.
What I am less enthusiastic about are the touch controls. Some implementations are harmless, like the ability to touch the weapons wheel. Melee is also assigned to the touch screen, with a simple tap. However, other actions, like double tapping the rear touch pad to sprint felt unnatural and awkward. Throwing grenades with the front touch screen may seem fun at first, but ultimately it takes your hand off the main buttons--which can be quite disastrous in practice.
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After getting my hands on Burning Skies, I am inclined to agree with Sony. This might just be "the first true FPS experience on a portable console." But, what I've seen is also incredibly bare-bones, offering little innovation and very little content. And while the controls impress, the game's visuals do not, easily missing the standard set by Uncharted: Golden Abyss.
Resistance: Burning Skies will be available on Vita on May 29.