Resistance: Burning Skies is an extremely important game for Sony. It’s no secret that Sony has been pushing the idea of console-quality games on their handhelds since the launch of the PSP. They soon realized, just as consumers did, that this meant more than just high-quality graphics. Without a second analog stick on the PSP the most popular genre in videogaming, the FPS, would just never feel right or control precisely.
By adding a second analog stick to the PS Vita, Sony has made a major step in the right direction of accomplishing their goal. The problem is, when you emphasize the idea of console-quality, the most important word in that description is ‘quality.’ While Burning Skies does have some nice ideas and shows potential for the genre on Sony’s new handheld, it is bogged down by frustrating design choices and ends up being nothing more than a proof-of-concept of what handheld gaming can become in the future.
Burning Skies takes place during the Chimera invasion of North America in August 1951. Players assume the role of Tom Riley, a local firefighter, who gets mixed up within the conflict, while on his search for his family who got separated from him during the invasion. Despite not being a military man like prior series protagonists Nathan Hale, Joseph Capelli and Jaymes Grayson, Riley doesn’t react to the ongoing invasion like you would expect a civilian to. He only stops once to question what exactly is going on and in short time, he’s handling an Auger as though he has been since he was a teenager.
That’s too bad because developer Nihilistic Software could have done more incorporating Riley’s firefighting skills and civilian background to help differentiate the gameplay and story from the rest of the series. There are but a few instances where Riley must rescue people who will then raise arms in combat with him. Because of this, Burning Skies ends up feeling like nothing more than just another Resistance game. The story never builds up to anything but a rescue mission. The ability to carry an axe for the entirety of the game is the only real change-up in gameplay that his background brings.
Burning Skies is the definition of a mixed bag. For every thing it does right, there’s an example of how it could have done it better. Take for example its musical score. It is easily one of the best things to come out of the game. It evokes memories of classic game scores like Call of Duty: Frontlines when it swells up during the middle of a fire fight against a boss or swarm of Chimera. The problem is that the score is as scarce as it is great. For the majority of the game, the only sound you hear with any regularity is the sound of your footsteps or the sounds associated with picking up ammo off the ground.
Burning Skies uses the touchscreen in some great ways. There is an axe icon and a grenade icon on the right side of the screen next to the second thumbstick. You can quickly tap the axe icon if you’re up close to an enemy to get a melee kill or you can tap the grenade icon for a quick toss over cover. Unfortunately, the game also forces you to touch a door every time you need to open one. By the end of the last level, you’re literally touching the screen every three seconds in parts to open doors. Run for three seconds, open a door. Run for three seconds, open a door. Repeat. It is super frustrating and completely unnecessary.
The only real use of the Vita’s rear touchpanel is the ability of double tapping to sprint. This allows you to keep your thumbs on the analog sticks, ready to fire if need be. I had issues with this control setup and rarely had it work correctly. There is an alternate way of sprinting by pressing the down arrow on the directional pad which I had to use for the majority of the game.
One of the areas that the Resistance series has always excelled in is its weapons. There are eight different weapons to find throughout the game which include series main-stays like the Bullseye and the Auger. Each piece of the arsenal feels unique and while you can only have two equipped at a time, every time you find a new weapon it’s stored in your inventory which you can quickly access by holding down the triangle button. You have all the weapons you need to wade your way through any enemy forces.
The problem arises when you want to use your weapon’s alternate fire mode. To use the Carbine’s grenade launcher or the Bullseye’s tagging feature, you must first mark the enemy by touching their position on the touchscreen for about half a second. It feels like the enemy AI has been recalibrated to adjust for this. Enemies will appear on-screen and wait a while to begin firing. Nothing takes you out of the intensity of a firefight like seeing a Chimera fly onto a wall on your side, then just look at you without firing while it gives you time to mark them. It feels cheap and predictable and the only time you feel tension in battle is when you’re heavily outnumbered.
Being heavily outnumbered only occurs a few times late in the game’s six levels. Burning Skies, for the most part, does a good job with its checkpoint system. There are a few badly placed ones which will have you repeating multiple fire fights and a couple that will have you watching unskippable cutscenes. But these are few and far between and aren’t a huge problem.
Burning Skies also features competitive eight-player online multiplayer, four versus four, across six unique maps and three modes, including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and another mode entitled Survival. All the modes are pretty straight-forward but impressive for a handheld game. But once again, it feels more like a proof of concept that a handheld, FPS multiplayer mode can be achieved and seems like nothing more than building blocks for future titles on the system.
Resistance: Burning Skies had potential to be so much more. It does build up hope for what a portable version of Killzone, Battlefield or Call of Duty could become on the Vita. Unfortunately, the over-emphasis of touchscreen controls and the lack of originality keep it from succeeding. There are a lot of first-person-shooters available on other systems. Burning Skies biggest blunder is that it fails to give a worthwhile excuse to abandon them in favor of it.
This Uncharted title was the first Sony exclusive franchise to debut on the Vita. Golden Abyss is far and away better than Burning Skies in most ways. Most of the touchscreen features in Golden Abyss were used to complement gameplay or as a viable control alternative. You could climb up ledges like you normally would in other Uncharted games or you could draw a path with the touchscreen and watch Drake traverse it on his own. Puzzles needed use of the camera, touchscreen and rear touch panel to solve. All of this, plus a great story with interesting characters, led to a much more effective franchise debut on the Vita.
Retribution was the first portable entry for the Resistance franchise. Released on the PSP, Retribution starred British Royal Marine James Grayson. This entry in the franchise was presented as a third person shooter due to the lack of a second analog stick. It was developed by Bend Studio who went on to develop Uncharted: Golden Abyss two years later. You can hook up your PSP via AV output and play Retribution with a Dualshock 3 controller. I would recommend doing this over playing Burning Skies if you enjoyed the main trilogy on console and need another Resistance kick.
Mortal Kombat has always been my kind of fighting game. Many a summer day was spent in kombat back on my friend’s SNES when I was but a youngling. Not as komplex as Street Fighter but not as button-mashing friendly as Killer Instinct, the franchise always walked the line between kompetitive and fun and I loved every green-blooded second.
Last April we saw the release of the latest game in the series, simply titled Mortal Kombat, return to its 2D roots and land on the Xbox 360 and PS3. It has now been unleashed for the Vita including all previous DLC characters, formerly exclusive PS3 kharacter Kratos from God of War, bonus unlockable kharacter skins, one-hundred and fifty new Challenge Tower missions, touchscreen Fatalities, wi-fi konnectivity and the entire full-length kampaign running at a smooth sixty frames per second.
That twelve-year-old version of me would be amazed with everything packed into this handheld version. It turns out that thirty-year-old me likes it quite a bit as well.
While story has never been a major focus for fighting games, Mortal Kombat has the best to date. The entire Story Mode from the konsole version is present which retells the plots of the original three games of the franchise. You shouldn’t really take robots, ninjas, buxom military officers and gods of thunder fighting for the survival of Earthrealm seriously but developer Netherealm certainly did. And because of this, the plotlines in Mortal Kombat seem important and even shockingly plausible and koherent. If you go into Mortal Kombat not expecting anything Oscar worthy, you’ll be rewarded with a fun, cheesy and bloody adventure.
The story is broken into different kharacter-specific chapters. Each chapter includes four to five matches before moving onto the next. Kutscenes look really nice on the Vita’s OLED screen but not as good as the konsole versions. Unfortunately there is no way to skip through kutscenes or any way to select particular chapters from the menu. That’s a bit disappointing. But the fact that the story told is miles ahead of what is expected in your average fighting game is a fair trade off.
The fighting in Mortal Kombat feels a lot like it did in Mortal Kombat II. The ability to run is nowhere to be found and the action is back to 2D. The directional pad on the Vita is up to the challenge and special moves can be performed without a hitch. Each fighter now has a meter separated into three sections below them. Landing hits and blocking attacks fill up the bar and when it’s entirely full, you can trigger your x-ray attack by holding both the L and R buttons at the same time or by simply touching the on-screen icon. X-ray attacks unleash the most amount of damage for every fighter and are visually presented with an x-ray view of the damage being dealt. These use up the fighter’s entire meter when performed.
Players can also use their meter more strategically by performing kombo breakers, which take up two sections of the meter, and by using enhanced special attacks, which take up one section of the meter. Regular special attacks like Kung Lao’s hat toss only require you know the kommand. To perform an enhanced special attack, you press the R button as well as the regular kommand, to add a second of extra slicing damage to that hat toss. Scorpion’s spear toss becomes two spears, Lui Kang’s fireball becomes a little bigger; you get the idea. This makes kombat seem more option-friendly and different depending on whom you’re playing against. Some people will try and go for it all with an x-ray attack while someone else might go a more methodical route and use their meters for defense by relying on kombo breakers.
Exclusive to the Vita is an all-new Challenge Tower with one-hundred and fifty new missions to karry out. While the original Challenge Tower is also included and focuses on beating challengers in specific ways or under specific konditions, the all-new Challenge Tower focuses on Vita specific abilities like touchscreen input and gyroscope technology.
Missions range from balancing on logs over a pool of acid by tilting your Vita side-to-side to a Fruit Ninja knockoff mini-game where you slice brains and heads by swiping on the Vita’s touchscreen. It’s all a bit gimmicky and only worth doing if you’re a kompletionist because some items seem to be only unlocked through kompletion of these various challenges.
The inclusion of touchscreen fatalities is also a bit of a non-factor. This idea mainly falls short because you will need to make huge swipes across the screen to get your kharacter to move. The rhythm needed to execute the fatalities doesn’t feel natural at all and it seems this feature was only included to be listed on the retail box.
If you’re not a fan of Story Mode, don’t despair. The familiar Arcade Mode is back where you can play as one kombatant through the entire tournament and onto a frustrating encounter with Shao Khan. Just like the good ol’ days. You can also play Arcade Mode as a tag team of your favorite kombatants.
And what would Mortal Kombat be without multiplayer. You can duke it out locally in both 1v1 and Tag matches or online through the Playstation Network. While my time with multiplayer was limited, there was no noticeable lag in any of my matches. I’m happy to report that I was beaten fair and square, over and over again.
Mortal Kombat is everything that was great with the konsole version in the palm of your hands. If you already own a kopy, then there’s no reason to pick it up. The Vita specific features don’t make this a must have in that case. But if you missed out on the konsole version entirely or need something of quality to play on your Vita, then this is a must buy. Twelve-year-old me would agree.
If Mortal Kombat isn’t your thing then you should definitely try Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. As a launch title for the Vita, this game proved that a console fighting game could come to Sony’s latest handheld with little to no compromise needed. The frantic fighting action runs smooth on the Vita and the game contains the original thirty-two characters from Marvel vs Capcom 3 as well as twelve new playable characters including Ghost Rider, Hawkeye and Phoenix Wright. Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath, the two characters released as downloadable content for the previous game, remain available for download. It is perfect for hardcore fighting-game players as well as newcomers alike.
Mortal Kombat on the Vita isn’t the first entry of the franchise on a Sony portable device. Mortal Kombat: Unchained was released on the PSP in 2006. It was based on the Gamecube version of Mortal Kombat: Deception and featured four additional characters - Blaze, Frost, Jax and Kitana from Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Characters who remained hiddden in the console iterations were unlocked in Unchained. Though the game was considered entertaining at the time, it was criticized for its long loading times and difficult control setup. Thankfully, Mortal Kombat for Vita doesn’t suffer from any of these issues.
I love my FIFA. Over the past couple of years I have spent more and more time on the virtual pitch. When FIFA 12 was released on consoles last September, it brought with it a huge range of improvements that included a better online matchmaking system, a new player collision system and a new defensive system. Not only was FIFA 12 the best FIFA game I had played, it was the best sports game I had ever played.
This puts FIFA Soccer for the Vita in a difficult position. Having been released on a handheld that is trying to convey that home console feel and releasing on the heels of FIFA 12, it sure has a lot to live up to.
Even though the menu system and roster have been updated to resemble FIFA 12, FIFA Soccer is actually based on FIFA 11. At first I was a bit worried about this. After all, all the improvements I mentioned earlier would be missing. But as it turns out, basing the game on the more arcade style FIFA 11 works really well for a handheld. Creating a faster, easier to score version of FIFA was a really smart idea for an on-the-go portable soccer experience.
Make your run, donât mess up that first touch and continue after the break for more.
Nathan Drake likes to travel to exotic, interesting places. He enjoys meeting new interesting people, then he murders them. In Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Nathan Drake gets his “kill-on”, in a new way, the PS Vita. Released on Feb. 13, 2012, SCE Bend Studio picks up were Naughty Dog left off and now with dual analog sticks for easier mass killing to boot. As Drake we get to follow the trail of a mysterious ancient order and uncover what exactly happened to a failed expedition trying to uncover the order’s secrets. This Sony PS Vita exclusive will have you exploring jungles, ruins and other adventury type places that only a master climber and his geriatric old father figure friend can reach.
In order to avoid spoilers, I am going to break down the game into topics kinda like I do on GamersTransform, a podcast dedicated to one game at a time and available now on itunes (cheap plug and link). I’ll start of with graphics, gameplay, sound, controls, extras and finish off with the story (spoiler free) and a letter grade
So put on your bulletproof vest and hide your kids, hide your wife because Nathan Drake is killing people after the incredible jump.
God of War is probably one of the most successful action games in the past few years, and recently finished up its trilogy with the longest drag out god fight of all time. After the dramatic ending in God of War III, people were wondering just what exactly could be done next with the series. Of course, the answer was obvious; a prequel.
Again they put the job in the very capable hands of Readyatdawn, who handled the first PSP GoW game, and it does a tremendous job on the hardware provided. It is probably the best-looking game on the system, and it plays quite well; but some story and gameplay issues keep this game from hitting it out of the park.
Read more after the jump.
Atlus has a well deserved reputation for “giving the fans what they want” when it comes to their titles. Back in the PSOne days, when the JRPG market here in the States was in its nascent form (known as the pre-FF7 days), Atlus introduced us to the Shin Megami Tensei series with Revelations: Persona. Before the internet was in its current form many fans of the genre were blissfully unaware of how much Atlus changed in the game to make it more appealing to American audiences. Aside from the usual localization changes such as character names, the game also had its setting changed from Japan to the US. In addition, anything remotely Japanese was targeted for removal, even going so far as to change one character’s race to make the game more diverse. Back in the day, we were ignorant of these changes, but with the rampant niche fandom that came with the internet the facts were uncovered and die-hards wanted to play their beloved, yet now somewhat aged, game in its true form.
Now, 13 years later, it has finally come to pass in portable form on the PlayStation Portable. Not only has everything been restored to its original glory, but an entire side quest that wasn’t included in the original 1996 release is back. Not only that, but the soundtrack has been given a complete overhaul to be more in line with later games in the Persona series. Given these amenities, as well as tweaks to the game itself to make it conform better to a portable, you would think that it’d be a JRPG fan’s delight, right? Hit the jump to find out if the game still holds up after all these years, or if some of its clunkiness shows through.
SackBoy, the cute knitted protagonist from LittleBigPlanet (LBP), has become something of an icon for Sony’s gaming platforms in the same way Mario symbolizes Nintendo. It was not much of a surprise, when LBP headed to Sony’s PSP.
Ever since the PSP version was announced, gamers have wondered what sacrifices might be made in squeezing the huge, ambitious, often delayed, customizable platformer down to handheld size. After having a few weeks with Little Big Planet on the PSP, the answer is, not much at all.
The portable version of the game even performs better than the original. This is noticeable when it comes to the controls. Some gamers had a hard time with how floaty SackBoy controlled in the original game. Studio Cambridge has done a great job of tweaking the controls just enough to not only create a more streamlined experience, but to accommodate for the analog nub on the PSP. Controlling SackBoy has never been more precise or more comfortable than it is on the PSP.
At its core, LBP is a traditional platformer that uses creation tools, customization and puzzles to create a unique gaming experience. The best part is that all the included levels are made using the same level editor that the game comes with. You can collect new stickers to decorate levels or even your SackBoy at will using the pop it menu.
We’ve got to hand it to Sony.Â When we got our hands on Patapon 2, we were stunned at the level of content included in the sequel to one of the best PlayStation Portable games.Â While we expected new levels and a couple of tweaks here and there, we certainly weren’t expecting… this.
Patapon 2 is, far and away, a superior sequel to its predecessor.Â If you played the original game, you know that’s no small task. Patapon 2 still manages to maintain the same level of charm, whimsy, and charisma that made the first game such a wonderful gem of a title.Â But look closer, and you’ll see that this isn’t just a cheap cash-in for Sony and Pyramid.Â It’s easily a 40+ hour game for people that want to take the time to get into it, and at just $19 for a brand new copy of the game, it’s one of the best values for a PSP game in the current retail market.
And while it’s not without its faults, they’re minor compared to the overall content of the game.
Pick up a drum and head through the jump.Â You are the new God of the Patapon, and with great power comes great responsibility.
Ah, marble games. I’ve missed you so much. It seems like just yesterday I was spending hours on my NES playing with your one of your ancestors, Marble Madness. And yet, here we are again, ready to renew our longtime affair.
Have you ever run into someone who looks exactly like one of your friends of yesteryear? They’re so similar that you could swear they were the same individual. But once you get to know this new person, you realize he’s absolutely nothing like your old pal. Well, it turns out that Fading Shadows is one of these “new people.” The initial promise and nostalgia it induces quickly fade away into the bleak background of mediocrity.
Ivolgamus, the Lithuanian developer behind such classics as Barbie as The Island Princess, is taking its first dive into the world of the PSP with Fading Shadows. A marble-based puzzle game, Fading Shadows can be plenty of fun in small doses. But spend too much time in front of your luminous LCD screen, and you’ll likely find yourself tearing out your hair in frustration. Sure, the developers should be commended for creating a moderately unique original IP, but the final product ends up falling a bit short of spectacular.
We’ve got a hell of a puzzle to solve. Hit the jump to find the solution.
I always felt like I could keep up with the crowd and call myself a hardcore gamer until I started playing games published by Atlus. It was around then that I realized just how casual it is to jump over Goombas and run around looking for the shotgun. If Halo 3 is the obnoxious boozed-up goon at a frat party, an Atlus game is the slightly pretentious, manga-loving member of the chess club that studies literature and does math homework for fun. I personally categorize most Atlus games as "hardcore RPGs", because they generally cater to a niche that is so into role-playing games that its gamers bleed hit points and eat Final Fantasies for lunch.
Thus, I will categorize the PSP’s Yggdra Union: We’ll Never Fight Alone! as a "hardcore RPG", although it is in a skewed, awkward way. The game is, at its most basic description, a wild mix between Fire Emblem, Advance Wars, a deck of Magic the Gathering cards, and an anime lacking in color and contrast. When you factor in the way that Yggdra Union is presented, in terms of its gameplay, interface, and its progression, it gets even more…"interesting".
Although some of its gameplay mechanics are similar to those found in other games, it is the awkwardness of Yggdra Union that makes it a little difficult to pick up. Still, with a little patience and the ability to remember a lot of different terms, acronyms, conditions, rules, and other mechanics…anyone can enjoy it!
Get ready to jump into battle with armies of sprites, decks of cards and legions of numbers.