While we've known for a while that Sony has a Resistance game in the works for its upcoming Vita portable, there wasn't really much anyone could say about it outside of Sony and developer Nihilistic Software. But with Gamescom 2011 officially kicking off, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Now called Resistance: Burning Skies, the latest entry in this sci-fi shooter franchise has you playing as a New York firefighter defending America's most iconic city from the chimeran invasion.
This being a Vita game, we'd be remiss if we didn't immediately jump into how Burning Skies makes use of the system's newfangled touch-screen functionality. Nihilistic has actually taken a pretty clever approach to the touch screen. It's your main interface for using the alternate fire for your various guns--there's no R2 button like there is on the PlayStation 3 controller--and in our experience, it works quite well. With the carbine assault rifle, you tap where on the screen you want your alternate fire grenade launcher to land, and with the CRG, you tap and drag your finger on a couple of enemies, and suddenly they're all targeted for an instant, multidirectional shot from your gun.
Since you can't click on the analog sticks of the Vita, melee attacks are performed by tapping the little melee icon on the bottom right of the screen. While it does have the unfortunate effect of adding extra interface clutter, it serves as a quick and simple replacement for melee attacks. And as a nice little bonus, your default melee attack is a fire-axe swing, which you can gruesomely plant right in the neck of a chimera if you manage to sneak up behind him.
And then there are grenades, which are implemented in a really interesting way. You tap the icon and then drag it where you want it to land. The nice part is that you can cook grenades the more slowly you drag, which winds up being a very satisfying control mechanic--and we're not just talking about the violent jibbing that results from a well-aimed grenade.
We weren't great fans of everything related to the Vita hardware, though. There's a new first-person cover system in Breaking Skies that automatically snaps you into cover when you crouch behind a low object, which seems to work quite well--especially if you're like us and you really enjoyed the first-person cover in the recent Killzone games. However, one of the options for popping out of cover is to tilt the system forward to mimic leaning up and over that object. It's a sound idea, but in practice we had a hard time tilting the system forward and still being able to see the thing so we could shoot the enemies. We wound up preferring the other option, which is to just hit the L button to pop up from cover while simultaneously looking down your iron sights.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the beefy hardware inside the Vita makes for an eye-pleasing game. Burning Skies looks quite nice, though there's a noticeable difference in character from the moody and atmospheric Resistance 3. The aesthetic here is a bit more straightforward, though you do get the occasional look at the devastated New York skyline--especially in the level we played, which has you making your way through Ellis Island after it has been converted into a research center for the humans to study chimeran technology.
Ultimately, we really enjoyed the time we spent with Burning Skies. The touch-screen controls are cleverly implemented, and the lackluster motion controls were purely optional features that we could easily ignore. We're interested in learning more about this new main character and how he fits into the overall story of the Resistance universe. There's no release date for it, but it seems safe to assume this one could wind up being one of the Vita's launch titles. Stay tuned for more.