When the world you know is being overrun by ferocious hordes of murderous aliens, things can get frantic. The Resistance series has always done a great job of complementing its dire circumstances with equally fraught action, but in Burning Skies, both elements lack their usual luster. The story fails to capture the desperation of humanity's plight, and your Chimeran enemies attack with patterned diligence as opposed to the swarming intensity of Resistances past. There are some fun guns to shoot and a competent online multiplayer offering, but if Burning Skies is any indication of the fervor with which we would fight for our survival, humanity is in trouble.
6372472NoneThough better suited for long-range, the hunter rifle is still plenty deadly up close.
The problems start with your enemies. From foot soldiers to jetpack jockeys and dog-sized arachnids to truck-sized berserkers, the Chimera are an ugly bunch that have a reputation for attacking in substantial numbers with startling ferocity. Their vigor has long fueled the frantic combat of the Resistance series, but in Burning Skies, the Chimera seem to have lost much of their appetite for destruction. Squads are smaller and less aggressive, and if you can find a solid place to take cover, you can safely potshot your way through most encounters. Move aggressively against an entrenched enemy, and you'll be in danger, but many enemies spawn in and take a few long seconds to fire on you, leaving you plenty of time to jog up to them and hit them in the head with your axe by tapping a conveniently located onscreen icon.
This lackadaisical attitude is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of the action takes place in corridors. From a visual standpoint, these areas are drab and repetitive; Burning Skies is not a pretty game. The dull industrial areas and ubiquitous blurry rubble do not make a good showcase for the Vita's capabilities. From a gameplay standpoint, the aforementioned corridors are perfect places to use your shotgun or melee attack, both of which kill in one hit. There's certainly some satisfaction in dispatching your enemies with casual efficiency, but Burning Skies spends too much time running you through these lopsided scenarios.
Fortunately, there are times when the balance swings back the other way. Later levels use the more spacious areas to better effect, and the variety and quantity of enemies demand that you sit up and pay attention. There's a light cover mechanic you can make use of by simply crouching behind a low barrier or sidling up to a corner wall, letting you poke your iron sights out to pick off your advancing foes and allowing you some breathing room to make better use of your enjoyable arsenal.
Series standbys like the carbine, bullseye, and auger return, bringing with them regular bullets, bullets that can home in on enemies, and bullets that can travel through walls, respectively. Though Burning Skies doesn't debut any particularly clever or brutal weaponry like did, the new shotgun/crossbow combo is handy at close range, while the burst fire rifle and its auto-targeting drone can help you control a large room. Effectively taking down the more formidable waves of foes usually requires juggling different weapons while repositioning yourself and slinging a few grenades for good measure. It's a gratifying feeling to pile the ferocious dead at your feet.