Tuesday, May 14, 2013

#14: Resistance: Burning Skies - Better Than Nothing

As I was just freed from a lengthy 17 hours worth of flights, you can imagine that I had an awful lot of time to kill. I spent a reasonable chunk of that time sleeping awkwardly in the fetal position, to take advantage of the adjacent empty seat. At some point I clawed the businessman next seat over in half-awake confusion.

The other chunk of time was spent playing my freshly purchased PS Vita that came with Resistance: Burning Skies. I'm aware it's not a Steam game, but I personally believe that consoles and handhelds have great offerings as well. Unfortunately, this particular entry in the Resistance franchise was average in almost every way, which was both a slight disappointment and better than nothing, especially considering a certain critically-reamed Call of Duty spin-off on the Vita.

The gameplay is everything you'd expect from a shooter on the Vita, which comes with the caveat of "there is no gold standard for what to expect from a shooter on the Vita". You aim down various gun barrels at various baddies, with just enough of both to be kind of interesting. There's generous aim correction out of necessity, because even though the Vita has two control sticks, they simply cannot replicate a console controller.

Because the plot is just so incredibly forgettable and cliche (you play as a one-man-army fireman fighting for his family), Resistance: Burning Skies really depended on the gunplay to save it and only barely succeeded. Enemy AI is a joke; they move in a jerky, illogical manner and seem to always enter the battle in strategic locations in lieu of actually having any logic governing their behavior to lead them there. There are really only five types of standard enemies, each assigned a specific gun, and they all have quirks that don't feel quite intended. For example, I found the enemy type that sports the wall-penetrating "Augur" gun to be easily countered by stepping left and right and firing an Augur back at him. They don't seem very inclined to move while shooting.

Generally when I died, it was because I was caught by an enemy with a clean line of sight on you at close range. I get the impression enemy accuracy was reduced by giving them unnaturally high bullet spread; this means that when even the lowest level baddie gets a few feet away, he can still kill you in two seconds by himself. I think switching it to "Hard" would have perhaps caused me to die to other things as well, but even on normal, point blank enemies hurt so bad that the shotgun was often too dangerous to use.

You need to be able to make your own fun in Resistance: Burning Skies. Your various weapons all have imaginative secondary fire modes, like the franchise trademark "Bullseye" automatic rifle's "tag" that causes all bullets fired to home in on the tagged target. Because the environments are lazily-made hallways with cover leading to rooms with cover leading to hallways with cover, the only meaningful variety must come from the player's usage of their toys.

Let me put it this way. Resistance: Burning Skies is not worth the price unless you are truly a die-hard Resistance fan or you're desperate for a shooter on the Vita. I personally acquired my Vita for so cheap that the copy of Resistance was just a bonus, so I don't feel slighted in the least.

I'm going to start assigning numerical values to my evaluation of games, because the way I look at it, if Tom Chick can end up on Metacritic while shattering the "game review scale" under the justification of total subjectivity (2/10 for Halo 4?), then my number is just as good. So...

2 out of 5

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