For a handheld console with dual analogue sticks, you’d certainly expect there to be a few more first person shooters on it by now. As it is, all we have is Resistance: Burning Skies and that title – from Nihilistic Software – didn’t exactly set the world on fire. An unremarkable single player campaign, which felt rushed and incomplete, and a multiplayer mode which seemed quite fun but I personally found to barely work.
So with Nihilistic back for a second crack of the whip already, can they deliver a more polished product? The disappointing trailer shown at the end of Sony’s press conference doesn’t inspire much confidence but that could all be down to the edit.
I didn’t get to see the single player in action but can confirm that it’s set in the years between the two home console Black Ops titles, featuring a mixture of objective based operations, alongside time trials and survival missions. It certainly sounds like it’s more of a bite sized and portable experience, more akin to Unit 13 than a lengthy plot-driven campaign. We’ll have to wait and see what other details emerge over the final few months on this front but I did get to see some multiplayer.
Additionally, you have Create-a-Class, Prestiging, Killstreaks, Challenges, Care Packages and all the other things you’ll know from Call of Duty titles. One extra thing that the Vita has is the ability to share your load-outs with your friends, using Near. Doing so can give a buddy a decent jump up the food chain as, even if they haven’t unlocked these weapons for themselves, they’ll be able to use your load-out.
I didn’t have hands on with the game but the brief 2v2 demonstration did look quite accomplished. A standard Team Deathmatch saw two pairs of players huddled around a table, muttering directions and information to one another, as all four Vita screens were being beamed to TVs for us to watch.
During gameplay, these pairs were sticking together well and a closely fought battle unfolded. Grenades were being thrown through doorways, using the touchscreen capabilities to throw precisely where they wanted, and the teams worked closely to move around what seemed like a fairly large and well-featured map. My main criticism of the graphics on show would be that textures seem to be rather muddied and the palette quite dulled.
Additionally, I can’t provide screenshots at PS Vita resolutions but it doesn’t really seem like it’s currently running at native resolution, another of my pet peeves with games on the Vita.
Back to the match and maybe a bit predictably, it was the man with the shotgun that broke the stalemate, embarking on a killstreak. First he unlocked the spy plane to show enemy positions, and a few kills later a mortar strike. This was handled using the touchscreen, with a touch button on the left hand side to activate killstreaks, and the mortar interface showing the entire map on the full screen, letting you prod exactly where you want to be bombarded with mortar shells. A simple thing integrated quite nicely.
All too soon the demonstration was at an end and while it left a much better impression than the press conference trailer, I still haven’t seen anywhere near enough to be convinced. For a title just a couple months from launch, which is bound to be as big a seller as the Vita has seen so far, I find the caginess surrounding this title just a little disconcerting.
We all want a good FPS on the Vita and we’ll just have to wait and see if Nihilistic and Activision can deliver one that beats expectations. I really hope they can.