Resistance: Burning Skies is a strange amalgam of expectations, delusions and corporate ineptitude. It also happens to be a pretty decent game, if you allow it to be. This game, more than any Vita title before it, is all about the attitude you bring into it.
There seem to be two factions in terms of expectations for this game. One that wants this to be a PS3 quality Resistance game and another that merely wants a decent shooter, with two sticks, on a handheld. I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out which of these camps will enjoy the game. But hey, I have to write the review anyway, right?
I will say it was never fair in the first place to compare this game to the PS3 series. The hardware isn’t as good, the team developing isn’t as good, the budget was smaller, the development time was shorter. These are all Sony’s fault, not Nihilistic’s, but the general public seems to be mad at them anyway. Sony doesn’t take its handheld as seriously as Nintendo does. Super Mario 3D Land was made by the team that made Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2. Resistance: Burning Skies was made by the team that made the godawful Playstation Move Heroes. Sony has a lot to learn in this area.
But for everything Nihilistic had going against it, including its own mediocrity, they have created a solid product. Resistance: Burning Skies rarely strives to do anything beyond average, but it does average pretty darn well. Most of this is helped by the Resistance universe itself being decent canon for the story and for Insomniac’s previous work in the series creating these wonderful guns. But Nihilistic has done a great job of bringing the universe and guns to life on a handheld and they should be commended for that. This feels like a Resistance game, even if it’s not as good.
The game starts out slow (which, if you’ve played the demo, you already know) but it picks up pretty quickly. And all of the staples of a Resistance game are there from interesting set pieces (minor spoiler: I really enjoyed fighting on a bridge I used to drive over daily). They also included the incredibly huge bosses that the series really became known for in Resistance 2 – complete with glowy parts to shoot. Again, none of this is extraordinary; it’s ordinary.
Will ordinary make you happy? I fall into the camp that a technically capable shooter, with two sticks, that I can play on go or in bed, seems really, really cool to me. Instead of being amazed by the game I was more amazed by how novel playing a game like this is. It was bolstered by my love of the Resistance universe and weapons, for sure, but really the attraction here isn’t Resistance. The attraction is “this is a twin stick FPS on the go.”
For some that’s not enough and if you are one of those people I recommend staying away from the game. Even the multiplayer is fairly bland, most of the fun of it is ‘omg I’m playing a decent game of deathmatch on a handheld.’ It’s instantly forgettable, but the next time you are out and need to kill some time you’ll be happy you have it with you.
Overall Resistance is a pretty small package. The Sony Early Adopter Tax™ has this game at $40 but really it should have been part of the $30 tier. The main story can be beaten in less than 6 hours and the multiplayer is nice to have around, but likely isn’t going to be your go-to shooter for online play. You aren’t selling your copy of Battlefield because Resistance 4vs4 is so awesome. It’s also worth noting you should get the platinum trophy on one play through, with maybe 1 or 2 trophies to snag afterwards if you didn’t happen to get enough headshots or something. So even the trophies don’t help foster much replayability.
I’m giving Resistance three stars and I only bring this up to say that if the idea of a decent Resistance game on a handheld sounds good, make it four stars. If you only want the best, make the score two stars. This game will live up exactly to your expectations whether they are positive or negative. I enjoyed my time with it, but I can’t help feeling I was happy with it because I wanted to be.