Well, this caused a bit of a stir when it was released last year. Developed by the now defunct Nihilistic Studios, to say it angered the critics and the fans alike would be an understatement. Now it’s taken me until now to get around to experiencing Burning Skies which is why you are getting the review now. So what’s it all about then?
It’s 1951 and you take on the role of a firefighter by the name of Tom Riley, who on his way to a burning power station somehow gets embroiled in a war against an alien species called the Chimera. After getting battered on the other side of the Atlantic in the previous title in the series, they seem to know how to conquer the world this time and start invading New York.
After a brief separation from your colleagues, you end up rescuing a fellow firefighter before picking up an alien firearm and wreaking some havok on them. But you very quickly have a (brief) reunion with your family before deciding to shoot some more aliens. I’m sure it would have made for a short game had it ended there – I mean surely you would just leave it to the army and go with your wife and child – but it doesn’t really explain very much, and this is one of the first criticsims that can be levied to the game. The story is a little bit rubbish. It kind of just coasts through the six different chapters without really explaining what’s is going on too well.
You will spend the vast majority of the game either with, or trying to find Ellie, a soldier fighting against the beasties and you flow through various different location supposedly in New York, before trying to relocate and rescue your family from the inevitable doom that they may face.
To help you on your way, the game offers you a wide variety of weapons which all fall into standard shooter fayre. The first firearm that you will encounter is the Bullseye, a rapid fire energy weapon which fires shots either via aiming or – through the secondary fire – towards the tagged target. Each of the eight weapons feature a secondary fire option, all of which are operated through the use of the touch screen. Other weapons are the army issue M5A2 Carbine, which fires grenades, the Auger which fires penetrating energy with a shield, the Hunter which is a semi automatic energy weapon which shoots a drone as its alternative fire.
Also present are the Six-eye, which is a sniper and utilises an explosive charge, the Swarm, a four-barrelled rocket launcher which also can lock-on, the Mule which is a shotgun-cross-crossbow which can fire explosive arrows and the Mauler, which is a slow but deadly minigun which also packs an explosive shot.
Some weapons I found to be pretty useless as I wnt through the game, and only used some of the out of necessity really when I ran out of ammunition, since the ammo packs you encounter are all seemingly weapon specific. But for the most part, I relied on the Bulleye, Carbine, Mauler (especially late game) and the Swarm. Different weapons work best on the different enemies that you will encounter, and there are a variety in here from foot soldiers and those with jet packs to larger abominations with cannons and claws, and a giant sea fish type that made me think of Gears of War 3.
Despite the flaws, I did rather enjoy the campaign and wish that it had gone on for a little bit longer than the 4-5 hours that it took me on the easiest setting. Once you have finished the campaign it does unlock a new game plus mode and super human difficulty, if you fancy it.
Visually the game is not all that great, it has a 50s b-movie kind of look and feel to it, but the textures and character models can be described as functional at best, it’s all pretty bland and generic here. Not only that, at various points in the game the scenery didn’t render properly and took a while to fill in, the worst case for this was during chapter three. Accoustically the game is very bland, the weapons don’t ever really convey the scence of power that they undoubtedly possess and the very poor dialogue runs over the top of a very generalised score.
But it actually handles OK, the game has tries to shoehorn a cover mechanic into it, and uses the D-pad to try and enable you to peer in and out of cover, and it generally works reasonably well, and it actually tries to make good use of the touch screen
The game features multiplayer, and offers you three modes plus a combination one, with Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and “Survival”, a horde style mode present. But the game also requires a Network Pass, and also has an online trophy requirement, so if you are the type that loves collecting trophies and like those platinums, you are going to need to buy this new or shell out the money for the pass.
Fighting over six maps, and using a tried and tested levelling system you earn points as you would expect in this type of game and a you rank up, it opens up various different weapon customisation options for you.
The main problem here though is whilst I enjoyed the multiplayer to a degree (and comparing it to Black Ops Declassified, I would say it is just as fun) it restricts you to a minimum of four players before it will even entertain you in a match. Which will obviously be a source of frustration for you. A lack of players is always going to handicap a game which ear-marked multiplayer as the source of lonegivity for the game.
But I did enjoy my time with the game while it lasted, and I would suggest to you if you are looking for a shooter (and let’s be honest, the Vita is devoid of them) then you have little choice but to look into this. It’s a shame that the multiplayer is empty, because this was actually a little bit more fun than Declassified. But if you do choose to go for it, you may as well get it used or rent it because it isn’t worth full price.