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Killzone 3 Review (PS3) - 999 KZ4

Killzone 3 Review (PS3)

Sony’s flagship series is back with some new ideas

Phew, you gotta love the post-Christmas season nowadays. What was once a barren time for gamers has been transformed (largely by the impact of the COD series alone) into a game-packed festive spread, sprinkled with many titles that traditionally would have fought for the yuletide pennies. Large scale sequels also seem to be the current trend, and one of Sony’s flagship series has always been Killzone: a sci-fi FPS that offers stunning visuals blended with intense combat sections to produce a hauntingly atmospheric saga of two bitter worlds at war.

Killzone 3Killzone has always been synonymous with its enemies more than anything: the Helghast are a humanoid race who wear heavy armour and sport glowing orange eyes, speak with a curiously polite English accent and often affect a lot of style similarities with the Nazis of World War 2 Germany. Heavily oppressed (and possibly wronged by the humans themselves), the Helghast this time have been using civilian weapons manufacturers to try to gain an edge over the ISA (an alliance of human colonies, including Earth), and from the outset, politics plays a large hand in the story. The player once again steps into the shoes of Sgt Sevchenko (or “Sev”), taking part in events that start mere minutes after the end of the previous title. As in every other Killzone title so far, events take many twists and turns (which I wont spoil!) which run a gamut of situations and scenarios for the ISA troops to fight their way out of.

Firstly, yet again, Guerilla has excelled in producing one of the most visually stunning titles of this generation on any system. This really is the first console title that I feel stands up to even the might of Crysis with its visual brilliance, and is made all the better by the buttery smoothness of its frame rate. It just looks incredible – from character animations, details on weapons and vehicles, the lack of that “tiling” feeling from repeated textures in the game maps, this is one seriously beautiful game. Helghan lives and breathes, the overt brownness and corridor feeling of Killzone 2 is nowhere to be seen, and everything has a life and organic feel to it. Add to this some truly awesome sound direction, whether voice acting, sound effects or the dramatic, sweeping score, and playing is a real joy.

Killzone 3 really pushes forward the cover based concept of earlier titles, too: the player is encouraged to move from cover to cover, working flanking tactics and using covering fire in a way few titles really manage well. However, anyone with any serious gaming mettle should start the title on at least the Hard setting, as anything less makes the challenge a little more of an alley shoot, compared to the strong battles of the higher skill settings. Some missions also employ stealth tactics (including an awesome Brutal Melee move which produces some really grisly kills), some drop you into a variety of vehicles, some are even on-rails shooter sections (how quaintly nineties that can be!), yet everything drips with atmosphere, and works fantastically.

Missions tend to be mainly staged groups of high drama moments, with little fat: often you feel engaged in something truly huge, with massive ramifications, with very little low points. However, this causes one of my biggest criticisms: such stripped back gameplay creates an unfortunately short campaign (I beat it in under 5 hours). Whilst every moment of that was awesome, I cant help but think many gamers will short-changed for this. Sure, it has as many jaw-dropping moments (perhaps more) as any other large scale blockbuster title, but lacks the slower in-between moments too, thereby creating one large adrenaline punch which is just over too quickly.

Sections no longer drag as you fight a few soldiers at a time, and instead you feel as though you are actually fighting in a full-scale war

Killzone 3 also has an excellent local co-op campaign, allowing two players to tackle the campaign together, which was also a lot of fun, although this mode has no online equivalent. It also supports 3D TVs, which I’m not fortunate enough to own, and Move controllers too. Move support is pretty good, if a bit weird; however, Sony have a new peripheral releasing with Killzone 3 (the Sharpshooter) which looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Next, we have the multiplayer component, which features the usual suspects of team Deathmatch (called Guerilla Warfare), Warzone (which sees two teams battle to complete objectives split into various rounds), and Operations mode. Operations sees two teams running through a list of objectives culminating in the capture or defence of a base, and is replete with cutscenes and consequences depending on what each team achieves during play. All this is rounded out with the customary classes (featuring different weapons and skills), experience based levelling and unlocks. I can certainly see the multiplayer becoming big news, as the matches feel far more involved, and the graphical style carries over to create something pretty awesome to play.

Unfortunately, multiplayer wasn’t running before launch, but I did get in some good time on the Beta tests, which shows that Killzone 3 can handle large maps packed with up to 24 players with no sign of slowdown or judder, creating an excellent, fun series of matches. I did test out the other modes on the offline Bot mode, however, and found them to be both challenging and fun (particularly once I ramped up the difficulty) – I reckon I’m going to lose some serious time in here once the full servers are up and running. So, excellent multiplayer, then – highly recommended to both COD veterans and those looking for some fun team shooting with added depth.

Killzone 3Killzone 3 is a great game, although a shift from previous titles in the series. There is an argument to say it has been “CODed up” – that is to say that the gameplay has shifted from the previous “ballet of bullets” combat style of Killzone 2 into a far more cinematic and adrenaline fuelled blast-fest. I would say it’s more like a “Battlefield: Bad Company” shift, which changes to a dynamic single player coupled with a sweeping multiplayer suite. However, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – sections no longer drag as you fight a few soldiers at a time, and instead you feel as though you are actually fighting in a full-scale war. Some moments are genuinely jaw-dropping, with a scale rarely seen on consoles, and the setting allows for some incredible moments of tense, fast-paced combat. There is a fair argument to say it represents less value for money than previous games, as the campaign is so short, but the multiplayer suite is pretty impressive – let’s just hope we get a few more free maps than the eight it ships with and most gamers should be pleased.

I can certainly recommend Killzone 3, and have scored it accordingly (I have dropped a point from the total due to the short single player), although I expect to be rating it higher than most. Taken for what it is (a good, short single player campaign with a great, deep multiplayer too), then there is a lot to recommend. Should single player be longer? Its pretty much a straight “Yes” to that question, but I understand what Guerilla were going for, and padding may have killed the impact. Multiplayer, however, promises to be deep enough to challenge the big boys, offering enoug
h scope to really pull in a wide variety of gamers without losing the hardcore who form the backbone of any good gaming community. Really, if you like some FPS action, Killzone 3 offers enough new elements and ideas to pull you away from your copy of COD or BFBC for some seriously good fun.

The Good: Looks and sounds incredible; seriously atmospheric and fun singleplayer; good multiplayer suite, offering some new ideas and great XP based levelling; lives up to the legacy well, yet adds new ideas
The Bad: Single player is woefully short; only 8 MP maps at launch (although massive ones);

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Gold Y AwardGold Y Award
4.5 4.5 / 5

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