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Resistance: Burning Skies – Preview

All-American fireman versus lasergun-toting alien hordes – no prizes for guessing who comes out on top.

With Europe having succumbed to the Chimera – the alien race slowly overrunning the planet – a belligerent United States turns its back on the rest of the world, content to turn inward in a bid to plan and stockpile for the inevitable war. Alas for the man on the street, when the Chimera do eventually arrive they do so as a flood might, quickly washing across American soil.

Fireman Tommy Riley is en route to a blazing power station when Burning Skies begins and, of course, it isn’t long until his colleagues have been picked up with almost Alien xenomorph-like alacrity, so leaving him alone with only his fire axe between him and hordes of alien-tech-packing Chimera. No prizes for guessing who comes out on top.

It helps his cause that he does something that the rest of the fleeing population seem curiously unable, namely to pick up the guns of downed hostiles and use that same advanced tech against his would-be conquerors.

So it is that he is soon the possessor of a whole repertoire o guns including the usual Bullseye with its homing rounds, Auger with the usual “pass through anything” projectiles and even a few weapons of human design such as the crossbow – neatly loaded via dragging back along its loading mechanism on the touchscreen.

In fact use of the touchscreen is vital across a variety of instances. First of all it contains a shortcut to a swing of his axe – perfect for smashing through doors and surviving close encounters – and quick access to grenades, either via a single touch to throw to the reticule’s current position, or a more considered drag across the screen for a precisely aimed pitch.

Many of your weapons’ secondary usages also require similar input, the Bullseye for example requiring you to physically touch an enemy to tag it, or the Auger’s on board shield generator operable by dragging your thumbs away from each other across the screen. Powering up weapons is done in a similar way as collected shining cubes are dropped into various slots to do anything from increase reload to speeds to max the weapon’s damage.

Beyond the addition of touchscreen control the action is regulation Resistance, albeit with slightly less visual shine (at least when compared to Resistance 3, Burning Skies perhaps more akin to the original Resistance in terms of its sharpness and animations). That’s not to say its a bad looking game however, in fact on the vivid screen of the Vita it impresses, particularly when the bigger Chimeran specimens come plodding your way.

There are some grandiose set-pieces too, an early scene in which Riley descends to an about-to-be-bombed bridge to save some stranded troops, playing out beneath the spectacle of aerial entanglements for example; though I’m left unsure as to whether this is maxing the Vita’s processing power or whether we should be expecting more.

One thing for sure is that the dual-stick control method works flawlessly, not only justifying Sony’s addition of an extra stick to the Vita, but once more making me wonder why Nintendo’s 3DS wasn’t engineered with one as standard. What the second stick guarantees is measured control, and though the near final build of the version of the game I’ve been privy too lacks any online function, I’m left with high hopes when it comes to logging on the promised multiplayer arenas.

Worth the wait? As it stands Resistance: Burning Skies is a close match to that of its PS3 brethren, in of itself no mean fete. Solid shooting, non-irritating touchscreen usage (I’m looking at you Uncharted: Golden Abyss) and decent if not quite jaw-slackening visuals all combining to make what looks to be Vita’s first must-have FPS. If Nihilistic Software can add in smooth and balanced online play then we really will be looking at a winner.

For: PS Vita
Developer: Nihilistic Software
Publisher: Sony
When? 1 June 2012