Tuesday, June 12

Resistance: Burning Skies Review (PSV): When the music ends

I've always been a bit awkward in social situations: none more so than the school dance that had me vying for the affections of young women that I haven't seen -- in most cases -- for about a decade. If I did manage a dance, I could never quite figure out what to do when the music stopped. Should I have gone in for the kiss? Engaged in small talk? Should I have walked away? I never knew what to do, and if you'll forgive the analogy, nor does Resistance: Burning Skies when the guns stop blazing and the music settles.

As I've discussed before, Burning Skies does a lot to turn players off: there's the lacklustre visuals, the nonsensical save system, and the completely disposable story that adds nothing to proceedings. Online multiplayer is ostensibly broken too. Even if you did have a compatible modem/router set up, hit detection and damage modelling are a little wacky and there's not enough unlockables to keep players hooked for long.

So, after these observations, I'd forgive you thinking this is a lost cause. I'd forgive you, but you'd be wrong! Not super wrong... just slightly mistaken. Why? Resistance: Burning Skies gets some shooter fundamentals right.
There's an expansive and upgradeable arsenal with series' staples like the Bullseye, the M5A2 Carbine and the Auger (that still shoots through walls!). There's also new additions like the shotgun/explosive crossbow hybrid that is the Mule, and the Mauler: a joyous union of minigun and flamethrower. There's some solid boss fights, innovative controls and enjoyable set pieces. When you're actually shooting things, Resistance: Burning Skies is worth the price of admission.

Innovative controls in a first person shooter! Who'd have thunk it? Using touch controls for preparing and, on occasion, using secondary fire doesn't feel intrusive, but natural in most instances. Sure, it's not groundbreaking, but it does allow for precise placement of grenades and targeting with alternate fire modes. The new control method doesn't get in the way of the action, it enhances it.

Save for the painful, final boss fight, Burning Skies' firefights shine. The cover system -- which I had predicted to be unable to handle any great amount of stress -- works for all but the final level, where hiding spots are few and far between. Enemies, while not exactly varied, appear in respectable numbers; some even move with frightening speed and agility. Whenever I was shooting aliens in this game, I was having fun. 

When the enemy numbers thin out, things fall apart. The story is fairly uneventful, and Riley's achievements seem meagre in comparison to that of his contemporaries: Hale and Grayson. There are only really two characters given any great amount of camera time here, and while neither are unlikable, you'll struggle to remember them after any small passage of time. It's also worth noting that the campaign only runs for about five hours; although, I actually thought this worked in the game's favour as nothing outstays its welcome. Still, despite a litany of noteworthy problems, I liked this game. I just can't in good conscience recommend it to you.

Dutch note: I bought my copy at JB Hi-Fi which came with a PSN voucher that included a free copy of Resistance: Retribution. Considering that you can opt to play PSP games with two sticks, this is a pretty big bonus; so be sure to check if the copy that you're buying has two vouchers in it.

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