Let's get it out of the way now...
The final boss in Resistance: Burning Skies is absolutely atrocious. I'm shocked that the developers at Nihilistic felt comfortable releasing such a horrid finale to their first-person shooter on the Vita. It's an inexcusable blight on an otherwise solid, enjoyable game.
Burning Skies is the culmination of a promise. Sony's PlayStation Vita was tasked with bringing the FPS genre to the handheld before its first details were ever revealed. The analog nub on the PSP just wasn't cutting it, and the Vita's twin analog sticks were most likely in design documents from day one.
In that way, I have to grade the latest entry in the Resistance franchise a little differently than I have its console bretheren. It's been billed as the first "true" FPS on a handheld, and in many ways that's absolute fact. R:BS controls so well that I sometimes thought I was playing a legit console game.
At that moment, I looked up and found myself in the back seat of a car, in a café, at Target, or dropping the kids off at the pool. Burning Skies attains an excellent level of immersion despite its lackluster aethetics. Textures can be muddy and sounds are sparse and frequently repeated.
Enemies often pop out of monster closets, line themselves up for headshots, and generally behave stupidly. The AI is so completely dense that unless they're shooting at you, they're waiting patiently to be filled with holes. But in spite of all this, Burning Skies is entertaining throughout the campaign (except for that goddam boss).
The real achievement here is the steady, infallible frame rate, and the dual analog sticks on the Vita being every inch as capable as their console cousins. I have no complaints about the way this FPS controlled, and being on a handheld, that's something worth taking notice of.
The six-hour campaign is highlighted by each and every weapon you pick up on your journey from fire-fighting everyman to alien death machine. Many weapons are ripped straight from the console Resistance releases with secondary fire mechanics intact.
The ridiculously overpowered Mauler, the shoot-through-walls Auger, and the grenade-launching Fulsom are all fun to play and mow down enemies with. The secondary-fire touch controls work well enough. Simply tap the screen where you'd like to fire the Fulsom's grenade launcher. Swipe your fingers apart to put up the Auger's shield. Slide your finger down to close the Mauler's vent and build up a heat blast.
Unfortunately, at the time of publishing, none of Resistance: Burning Skies multiplayer modes would allow me to connect to a game. I may be the only one with this problem, but since I can't experience the multiplayer for myself, it doesn't exist for the purposes of this review.
My hope is that it's fixed sooner rather than later and the servers stop timing out on me. But being that I have no idea when that will occur, I'm forced to count against Nihilistic and Sony.
Resistance: Burning Skies is an excellent proof of concept. It is the tech demo that shows third-party publishers that first-person shooters can be achieved on the Vita hardware. It is by no means a crowning achievement. Instead, Nihilistic have opened the door for other, more accomplished developers to step through. Don't be scared shooter-fans. The Vita waters are just fine.