Resistance Burning Skies Hands-on–Proving Touch Controls Work?
Developer: Nihilistic Software / Publisher: SCEA / Platform: PS Vita / Release: June 2012
NORMAN ROCKWELL MUST DIE
It’s 1951, your work day’s looking about as run-of-the-mill as it gets (‘run-of-the-mill’, at least, for a red-blooded fireman who has to leave the station to deal with an actual conflagration). The trust-your-leaders propaganda is, um, propagating throughout the American radio waves. The Future ain’t what it used to be. In Nihilistic Software’s forthcoming Resistance: Burning Skies, the Chimera invasion has hopped the pond to New York City—in terms of timeline, the game is nestled between the first two PS3 games. You take the role of Tommy Riley, professional firefighter, father, husband…and, maybe, hero of the Resistance.
And make no mistake: Burning Skies looks like it will deliver a powerful job of maintaining fast, fluid, and furious on-screen action. We recently got our hands-on both the single-player and multiplayer modes for a good long afternoon in San Francisco, running, gunning and (when necessary) axing our way through this nifty, Americana-flavored side-saga of the greater epic of the Chimera invasion.
As Tommy Riley, you start this adventure not as a Resistance front-liner, but as a straight-up fireman, learning the axe-and-ropes of the control scheme before stumbling upon alarmed denizens (and of course, weapons). Later in the game, beyond the initial tutorial, additional contextual help supplies the how-to on the unique Vita touch-screen functionality…much of which (he says, with a certain amount of justified cynicism) works not only better than one might think, but surprisingly well. Hardcore first-person console gamers do, after all, dearly love their familiar-country sense of two joysticks, a cluster of buttons, and some shoulder-bumpers, and they do not like to have it messed with beyond a certain point. So it’s not unreasonable to expect some unease about suddenly mucking about with fingers on the very screen you watch for threats. On paper, the notion smacks of gimmick-ness for its own sake…but in Burning Skies, it seems to work.
Case in point, the first help screen (on using the carbine’s secondary-fire grenades): Here I am, up to my ass in Chimera, and you want me to take a valuable combat-second to make the finger-reach over to the onscreen real-estate just for the advantage of placing a grenade with a slight additional degree of accuracy? Wouldn’t I be better off just aiming said grenade by way of the aiming reticule and taking my chances? No, as it turns out. Burning Skies takes the clever but obvious approach wherein, as soon as your finger does the touch-and-drag to indicate the precise point where the grenade should be lobbed, the game-time slows down just that crucial amount to offset the admitted physical awkwardness of the aiming function. Do not be deceived: Even with this time-crawl consideration, you’re still in the thick of an exciting, dynamic firefight, but that sense of ‘evening the temporal odds’ as you lob an expertly placed explosive is extremely gratifying. Another interesting, admirably slick touch-screen function is that of the crossbow, which can be loaded with napalm bolts with the pull-back swipe of a finger.
As Riley becomes a brother-in-arms to an impromptu militia of Resistance fighters around the streets of New York, the action ramps up, threatens to derail a bit in the second section, and comes back strong in the third. Elements in this preview code are, of course, still subject to change this early on, but it appears Burning Skies will feature about seven levels for the linear single-player campaign.
Moreover, Burning Skies‘ handling of ‘Gray Tech’ introduces weapons to be augmented with two Gray Tech cubes, each cube improving one unique aspect of the weapon—increasing range/damage, shaving down reload time, etc. Not a huge element perhaps, but a nifty one that will reward your unique approach to the core gameplay.
Burning Skies supports eight-player online gameplay spanning six maps. Modes currently include Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Survival Mode, which can be likened to ‘Zombie’ game variants: A superior force of humans faces a pair of Chimera…but when a human goes down, he is respawned as part of the enemy team, shifting the balance of power. The last man—or whatever—standing is the victor. And that seems just about right. Resistance: Burning Skies will be available in June 2012.