Ever since the PS Vita was unveiled in January, the handheld’s dual analog sticks have held the promise of a proper first-person shooter experience on the go. The reveal of Resistance: Burning Skies at PlayStation’s gamescom press conference showed that the future of portable shooters will be bright from the outset.
The next morning, Huebner and producer Frank Simon presented an extended play-by-play for intenational media.
Huebner said they “set out to make a no-compromises experience with all the elements you’d expect from a Resistance game.” What stood out to me during the Burning Skies demo isn’t that it merely fits into the Resistance universe, but of the new features it brings along for the ride. As mentioned in the press conference, you’ll battle new enemies with new weapons, all through the eyes of a new protagonist, New York City fireman Tom Riley.
Burning Skies takes place right before Resistance 2, filling in the lost years and presenting the experience of what it was like the day the Chimera came to New York. Huebner and Simon guided us through Ellis Island, which in this alternate universe isn’t a tourist area, but a SRPA research facility. The base is under attack by the Chimera who are trying to recover something of interest. A weapon, perhaps?
A playthrough of the demo revealed a few surprises in that realm. We quickly got ahold of a Chimeran tech weapon referred to as the CFG (cluster fire gun). This weapon discharged short bursts of shatterable ordnance, good for attacking soft targets, like Chimeran flesh. The CFG has an alt-fire mode, a Resistance staple. The manner in which it’s deployed, however, is PS Vita-only. A quick tap of the screen sets crosshairs on multiple enemies, fire and they all fall in succession.
This traditional fire/touch alt-fire method extended to the more familiar Carbine rifle. To fire off the underbarrel grenade launcher, merely touch in the direction you want to lob one, and off it goes in a fragmentational ‘splosion.
Typical grenade tossing is similarly employed; when you touch the screen, the icon appears above your finger so you can still see how long you’re cooking the grenade, then a “throwing” motion arcs them on their way.
The touch-sensitive screen also takes on the melee duties. An icon of a fireman’s axe (naturally) resides on-screen, just next to the Square button. Slide your thumb over when a Chimera closes in too close, and it’ll quickly be reduced to a pile of extraterrestrial kibble. Demo driver Frank Simon landed a one-hit stealth kill on an unsuspecting grunt as well.
Following its return in Resistance 3, the weapon wheel was demonstrated for Burning Skies. You can swap guns as you’re used to, or just tap the rifle you’re looking for directly on-screen.
It might sound like there’s a lot of touch-screen in the game, but Nihilistic is being selective with implementation. Heubner says they’ll only take advantage of “as many features of the Vita that make sense” for Burning Skies. Touch is used to keep you in the action and out of the menus.
The final new-to-Resistance feature is a first person cover system, not unlike that found in the Killzone series. If you’re crouching behind certain structures, you’ll automatically go into cover. You’ve got the optional of tilting the Vita to see over or around cover, or just aim down the sights with L1. If you stand up or back away, you’re out of cover – no getting stuck.
It should be said that Resistance: Burning Skies is an attractive shooter. “We don’t have to compromise on the visual side just because it’s a mobile platform,” said Heubner. “It’s got all the effects you’d expect on a console.”
All of this is presented seamlessly from beginning to end – no loading screens.
Back to the demo, Riley, now equipped with a minigun ventured deep into the Ellis Island underground, where human scientists are reverse engineering the chimeran weapons. Fortunately, they’ve left an an ammo upgrade for the minigun, making it even more deadly.
Upon entering a large room, you’ll need it – the devs show off the horsepower of Vita by filling the room with multiple types of Chimera. After raining liquid hot death on the enemies (and their reinforcements), the real threat reveals itself, a huge chimera about 3 times larger than most you’ve seen… and apparently that’s just a miniboss.
The demo ended there, but it not before making it clear that Resistance: Burning Skies is well on its way to delivering on the promise of becoming the first proper portable first-person shooter.