Who would have thought that two joysticks could turn a portable device into a handheld home console? The PlayStation Vita already has a strong library of games ranging across many different genres: role-playing games, racing games, puzzle games, and even ninja games. These are to be expected, since these genres have been a part of handhelds since the beginning. The shooter genre hasn’t received as much love on handhelds as it has on home consoles, but the PS Vita is graced with great titles such as Unit 13 and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The shooter mechanics in those games work incredibly well, and could easily be adopted into any first-person shooter game. As we all know, hypotheticals don’t do anything justice; we want proof. Thanks to Nithistic Games, we finally have some of that long sought-after proof we all wanted: dual joysticks are what the handheld consoles are missing.
The PlayStation Portable had its fair share of shooters, and developers found some different, but not always good, ways around them. Resistance: Retribution and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker used the face buttons to mimic a second joystick, and they both had an auto-aim function available as well to compensate for the hardware limitations. I’ll be honest, I spent a fair amount of arguments justifying the single joystick on that old boy, saying, “Having hardware limitations forced developers to think about what they really want to make, and they always find a way around it if the drive is strong enough.” Well, that time is over, and the big boys want to play, too.
Resistance: Burning Skies takes all of the wanted functions of a home console controller and puts them in a handheld, and it even uses common techniques found in cell phone games. Featuring prompts on-screen, it allows players to use the face buttons and interact with the game simultaneously, much like how Unit 13 did with interactions and reloads. This leaves plenty of ad-libbing abilities for developers to experiment on.
Still, this is 2012, and we require more from our games. It’s incredibly uncommon, and more or less dangerous, to have an FPS that doesn’t include multiplayer, but Resistance: Burning Skies has it. Surely, the modes are bare bone, and the online has initially been frustrating for joining games. Once players enter a game, it’s like playing a beloved game for the first time again. The slight awkwardness that the PS Vita has for movement melts away as hands learn to compensate via adrenaline and competition. Fighting the chimera hasn’t felt this good since we shot our first one in Fall of Man.
The PS Vita hasn’t pushed many envelopes yet, but it’s knocking on the door. Uncharted: Golden Abyss set the standards high for handheld detail, and Resistance: Burning Skies has now upped the ante by implementing the complete FPS experience into a handheld. For right now, those of you who are frustrated with the online lobbies, please push through them. The experience is great, and I can only imagine that the server issues will be fixed promptly. It has to be; this is the future we’re talking about here.