Under Fire: Burning Vitas

I’ve been traveling a lot as of late, as most people are prone to do over the summer, so I’ve had more of a chance to play with my Vita than I have in a long, long time. My first game of choice? Resistance: Burning Skies. I’ve heard lots and lots of bad things about this game, but as I’m prone to like things no one else does and vice versa, I still wanted to give this game a shot. I’m a fan of the series and a fan of the Vita, so color me excited.

Yeah, that didn’t last long.

I’m not going to touch on the story, as that is not worth touching by anyone. Just know this: a firefighter fighting against the chimera isn’t as cool or as fun as the premise sounded. I’m not sure why they selected a firefighter at all when he functions just like any other soldier from the previous games…but I digress.

Burning Skies was supposed to show the Vita’s capabilities in handling first-person shooters since it’s the first handheld with dual-analog sticks. In terms of using the dual sticks for aiming and moving akin to what one would do in a console FPS, Burning Skies hits a home a run. Sadly, hardly any of the other gameplay mechanics work half as well.

As Burning Skies is an early launch game for the Vita, it unfortunately falls in with so many other early launch titles in that it feels the need to use every new feature of the Vita. So not only does it take advantage of the dual-analog sticks, but it also utilizes the front and back touchscreens. The front touchscreen is used for throwing grenades and activating a weapon’s secondary feature, and in all, that’s fine. It’s a little annoying at times–like loading the crossbow–but it’s not a huge detriment to the gameplay.

The back touchscreen, however, is a completely different story. To make the main character (Riley) sprint, players have to double-tap the back touchscreen. If you’re like me and you grip the entire handheld when things get tense, this isn’t exactly a viable option. Players can press the down button to also make Riley sprint, but as soon as you touch the back screen (see the previous sentence), he stops running. You know how horrific this is when you need to dash away from boss attacks? Or how about the huge sequence in Chapter 4 that requires Riley to run (NOT MOSEY) out of a building?

Sprinting and dashing away is typically horrendous in FPSes and usually should be avoided. But when you present situations that requires sprinting and then make sprinting a giant pain in the butt…well, let’s just say that it’s amazing I haven’t thrown my Vita across the room yet.

The gameplay is so frustrating, that I can only play for about an hour at a time before I switch over to something else or to my 3DS. At this point, I’m only going to finish it because I have some more traveling to do and I see it as a quest. Well, and it has some really easy Trophies to get. Pathetically easy, in fact, which I believe is because they almost knew ahead of time that no one would like it.

I’m incredibly sad for both the Resistance series and the Vita. I really hope other developers will take a stab at creating a FPS for the Vita, because it really does have potential for great handheld shooters. Just please, please don’t take a page from Burning Skies, unless you need a lesson in what not to do. I’m begging you.