Platform: PS Vita

What do you get when you combine a 1940s fireman and an alien invasion? – This was a legitimate question going through my head after beating the first chapter of Resistance: Burning Skies.

The next question that buzzed through my head was how long it's been since the first Resistance game? – 6 years?! Man, time has flown by!

SONY debuted their greyest/brownest looking FPS Resistance: Fall of Man back in 2006 for the PS3. Acting as a launch title for their flagship console, it was supposed to be the answer to the XBOX 360’s Gears of War and Halo series.

The Resistance series takes place in an alternate time-line during the 1940/50s where instead of Germany invading much of Europe and inciting World War 2, an alien race named “The Chimera” (which I always thought sounded like a metalcore band) have taken it upon themselves to virally infect the human race into their minions and force them to follow their music on Twitter/SoundCloud/Facebook etc. Ok, the last part was made up, moving on!

Resistance blends World War 2-esque FPS action gameplay with Sci-Fi elements ranging from atmospheric set-pieces, visceral gun battles and inventive alien weaponry tech to aid you in the battle against the Chimera forces and their roadies. The game series has been popular enough to spawn 2 sequels and a portable spin-off, all on SONY’s PS3 and PSP respectively.

Resistance: Burning Skies’ inception into the series is that of a prequel to the second game in the series. For the first time in the game’s canonical series, you play a civilian as opposed to a trained military fighter. Enter Tom Riley: fireman.

PhotobucketThe game starts just as you guessed, on a fire truck on the way to a fire call at a warehouse. Your character is initially armed with his trusty fire axe, which you use to tear down the dilapidated doors blocking your path throughout the burning wreck of the warehouse.

After a series of events, you encounter your first Chimera soldier head banging a fellow fireman to death. After dispatching him, Tom Riley picks up the Chimera’s rifle and reloads it …and that’s when it hit me.

How the hell does a civilian fireman, who has had no military training pick up a rifle, let alone an ALIEN rifle and automatically know how to shoot it, use its secondary fire functions and reload the damn thing with ease?

Confusing translations of realism to fantasy aside, the game introduces you to the first few enemies that will provide the cannon fodder for the rest of the game. As you progress you meet new Chimera soldiers, rocking out with their new guns, which, once they are killed, you can start wielding yourself.

Tom Riley meets up with fellow Resistance fighters, who honestly all look the same, so it was a bit determining whom the main character was when they were al on screen. The transition between going to a fire call, Chimera invading, you fighting like a pro and suddenly fighting along side the Resistance movement was hardly smooth in execution.

Tom Riley’s family is thrown into the mix too, Tom has made it his personal mission to save his family from the invading Chimera forces, however when a shoehorned love interest from the Resistance movement rears its ugly head later, we all know what's going to happen to the family he “cared” so much about.

This game has some major bug issues. At first I didn’t know what was going on, but then I realised that you often find NPCs, and sometimes enemies, suddenly warping from one end of the room to another.

It’s quite blatant when you run into a large room (which is quite clearly a “spawn room”) and the enemy decides to appear magically RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. NOT behind a pillar or behind some sort of cover, just directly in front of you in plain sight as if they were dropped out of a 4th dimension by the Dr. Who tardis.

We also have the issue of the game's A.I., which is beyond awful. Difficulty settings don’t make any difference, only the amount of damage these dumb bastards do. Actually, it’s not fair for me to criticize the Chimera’s intelligence as the “friendly” military/Resistance NPCs suffer from the same stupidity as their enemies.

I’ll sum up the A.I. by saying it suffers from the same quibbles and issues of games that were developed 15 years ago. Often you'll find an enemy or NPC running into a wall, object or friendly NPC and be stuck there for eternity.

It's as if the Chimera army was briefed to strategically run right into a human military soldier, stand ram-rod stiff and let themselves get shot at point blank range without retaliating.

I then started to notice the main character from the Resistance (The sole female lead in this story) suffers from some “Exorcist” styled bug gimmicks too. I have personally witnessed her changing her animation from holding a gun to opening a door without any transition whatsoever. Instead, she made her gun instantly disappear, she contorted her body whilst looking up in a stance as if she was still holding her gun, then she warped from her current position and “snapped” onto the door before she started pushing it.

Ok, so my female companion didn’t get proper kindergarten schooling, so her spatial awareness may be a bit messed up - usually these types of bugs don’t bother me. I can put up with flying wolves and horses from Skyrim, so this should be nothing.

However as the game played out, I started to notice more and more animations were missing. A guy would fall over, dramatically say something, then a blood pool would instantly form under him like it was already forming there five minutes ago. Chimera troops will drop their gun and then instantly disappear as if they are a figment of the protagonists’ imagination after being shot dead.

PhotobucketGraphically this game is very good for a portable console, in theory. We have to remember not to compare this game with its counterpart, as the PS3 is, of course, a much more powerful and capable console. However, it’s not the prettiest game: textures sometimes don’t load and look haphazardly sewn together. The developers also forsook a more persistent anti-aliasing technology to maintain a consistent faster frame-rate, which I personally think was a good call as the jagged lines are hardly noticeable once you get into the full swing of the game.

The guns generally handle well, however the control interface is marred by the simple factor that the front touch screen acts as your weapon’s secondary fire as well as interacting with objects in the world. All doors in this game are opened contextually by tapping them when a “hand icon” appears on them. So, as you can imagine, you will end up accidently firing your second fire function on your gun by accident when you meet a door, thus blowing yourself and generally wasting ammo.

Sprinting in the game is handled by pressing “down” on the D-Pad or “Double Tapping” the back of the PS Vita’s back touch screen, however the latter is very unpredictable so you will often find yourself taking your thumb off the left control stick to press the D-Pad - this proves to be an inconvenience because when your sprint runs out, you will stop moving completely.

There is an upgrade system for your weapons in the form of collectable cubes. You can have a total of 2 active skill upgrades on your weapons at one time, but there are six upgrade powers in total for all weapons to choose from. It adds a bit of strategy to the mix, but not really enough in the long run.

Talking of game length, this proved to be a conflicting issue. On one hand the game is extremely short, clocking in at roughly 6 hours (dependent on how many times you die or look for upgrade cubes for your guns). On the other hand, each of the six chapters in the game is fairly long. I felt pacing was an issue. Overall the game is too short, but the levels were clearly not designed for a portable console in mind. Uncharted: Golden Abyss did this well with its 30+ chapters varying in lengths from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, with the overall campaign turning out longer with successive playthroughs.

You’ll also begin to notice how short the game is when you realize how easy it is to achieve a Platinum trophy. This is the first game were I've earned one in under 6 hours. No effort was put into the trophy system.

Multiplayer requires an “Online Pass”, which most FPS games require nowadays. The games range from Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Survival mode with up to 8 players in all modes. The matchmaking system is pretty standard, though you will often find 6 people in your game lobby suddenly exiting en masse like someone farted in the room.

Through your victories online you can level up and unlock familiar equipment used throughout the single-player campaign. However, my experience with the game came to an end when I completed a round of Survival mode. The game froze and crashed completely.

Bear in mind I had to download a patch for this game when I wanted to play the multiplayer. It corrupted my initial game installation so I had to delete my game and re-install to play the multiplayer. The patch stated it would fix issues regarding the multiplayer. Yet, here we are, staring at a frozen screen of my online gameplay.

So who’s to blame? Was it the developers? The Quality Assurance (QA) department? Or was it SONY and their marketing team?

The developers I feel made a good product overall, however it feels rushed. I can’t blame the QA testers, as it’s their dedicated job to check if this product has issues or not. So the blame is squarely placed with SONY on this one.

It’s not a secret the PS Vita is lacking a “flagship” title and this was it. However in SONY’s haste to release this game, they released it with missing animations, piss-poor A.I. and a broken multiplayer - giving no time for the developers and QA testers to discover and fix these issues.

It’s a real shame because the PS Vita was designed with this type of game in mind, boasting dual analogue sticks to take advantage of the type of gameplay that Resistance: Burning Skies should excel at.

Instead, we got a messy game full of bugs, missing animations, shoddy graphics, a poorly thought out control scheme and a game length that is so short that, sadly, even my review is probably longer than it.

If I were a Chimera soldier, I would split up my metalcore band now. Say goodbye to the violent gunfire mosh pits, my legions of converted fans and lay down my axe to don a new outfit as a progressive avant-garde alien band. I would finally have more context, more depth and more animation …and hopefully less bugs.