Resistance: Burning Skies Multiplayer Hands-on Preview -- Pocket-Sized Buddy SlayingBy Adam Rosenberg - Posted Apr 12, 2012
Resistance: Burning Skies represents a lot of firsts for Sony's recently launched PlayStation Vita platform. The May 29, 2012 release will be the first first-person shooter available on the handheld. It's also going to be the first crack at the Resistance license by Vampire: The Masquerade dev Nihilistic Software. Most relevant of all to fans of the series, it's going to be the first Vita title to deliver a proper online multiplayer shooter component.
It's that last element I sampled at a recent Sony preview event in New York City. Nihilistic hasn't had much to say about how the Burning Skies multiplayer will work until now. The game will offer three modes of play in all: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and something called Survival.
Those first two are pretty self-explanatory -- DM is what I went hands-on with at the event -- but the particulars of Survival are unclear. Is it a Horde-style co-op mode? An objective-based competitive mode that is simply called Survival? Sony isn't saying yet.
Multiplayer in Burning Skies is a wi-fi-only affair in which up to eight players sling bullets at one another across six different maps. If you're familiar with Resistance multiplayer on the console side, then you should be well-prepared for what the Vita game offers. You'll have a persistent player profile that levels up as you play, unlocking various tools for you to use in battle. Not just weapons and grenades. Each weapon has two upgrade slots that you can unlock gear for. Your access to all of this content is determined by your profile's experience level.
The arsenal is the main attraction for any Resistance game, and Burning Skies makes cool use of the Vita's touch screen to deepen your level of engagement. Each weapon's secondary fire, for example, can be triggered by tapping the touch screen. In the case of the Mule, a new shotgun that doubles as a crossbow with explosive rounds, it's a bit more elaborate. You'll need to swipe down and to the left on the screen in order to load up the crossbow; then, you'll shot an explosive arrow the next time you fire.
The difference between the tap- and swipe-based weapon interactions and the button-based ones you'd have on a SIXAXIS controller is admittedly slight, but that's not a bad thing. Between secondary fire, the well-placed melee touch prompt -- just next to the Vita's face buttons -- and mapping the sprint command to down on the D-pad, which requires minimal thumb movement from the analog stick, it's all very intuitive and easy to grasp. In short, the twitch-based action of a multiplayer showdown is only minimally affected by the tweaked control scheme that the platform requires.
For the hands-on, I faced off against one Sony rep at the event along with six others playing remotely in California. The wi-fi connection worked flawlessly, with no detectable lag or disruption of any kind in the action. The map I played on, called Depot (for now -- it might not be final), felt rather small, and I'm told that's the case with all six of the Burning Skies maps. Not just because of the portable platform, though that's definitely a factor, but also the more limited scope of the two competitive modes that have been detailed thus far. Presumably, Survival will also fit well with these smaller maps.
The online multiplayer component in Resistance: Burning Skies feels very meat-and-potatoes, but it's as feature-complete as a fan might want, especially for the Vita's first official crack at multiplayer FPS gameplay. You're looking at smaller maps and a more limited selection of modes than you'd get on a console, but the addition of persistent character progression alongside the gold-standard Resistance arsenal and the Vita's inventive FPS controls promise to make this a fun, if simple, addition to the game.