Tuesday, March 22, 2011

KILLZONE 3 review

Remember the original Killzone on PlayStation 2, the game that was hyped up by the gaming-press, as a Halo-killer? Well upon released it was quickly put in its place. Killzone 2 was similarly hyped, this time by Sony with the infamous target-render E3 video, but at least the game delivered. Gamers and critics loved it with equal measure. Can Guerrilla continue the momentum they started with Killzone 2?

As a review that focuses extensively on the single player campaign of Killzone 3, I will be forced to focus on the story. Story hasn't been the strongest point of developers of first person shooter games. Well with the help of Wikipedia, I am caught up with the world of Killzone and how the Helghan forces were wronged by the ISA at first, then decided to get revenge by invading a planet that was rightfully theirs only to be repelled and invaded by the ISA. Killzone 3 is a continuation of the story left from Killzone 2.

Killzone 3 has flying pests this time round
You play a character called Sev who bears much resemblance to a typical clich├ęd version of a video gaming marine, with a ridiculous haircut. This Sev person is accompanied by his marine grunt called Rico who swears a lot like a kid who just learnt cussing. Sev and Rico are kinda interchangeable in that both talks tough and prefer to shoot first ask questions later. Both are on the side of the ISA. While you control Sev during the entire campaign, Rico is almost always by your side if only to give you the medical help you sometimes need. Perhaps rather worryingly and annoyingly, you can't kill Rico off permanently, though you can injure him enough so he would not interfere.

Killzone 3's storyline is only there to serve the gameplay. The story is plain ridiculous and character development almost none existent. Despite six hours of pretty average story telling, the developers has even managed to reward the player with an abrupt and most unsatisfactory ending. Even the voice acting is bad, though perhaps this is also the fault of such an average script. Killzone 3 is one of those video games that makes me think why some developers even bother trying to tell a story. If developers like Valve and Naughty Dog (yeah, I know they don't make FPS games) can mix good stories with good gameplay, why can't Guerrilla?

Swap assault rifles for a rampaging mech? Don't mind if I do
As a friend of mine said, first person shooters aren't about the story. I disagree - I think they can have a good story - it's just that most mainstream gamers do not expect them any more. But moving on from story, has Killzone 3 changed my mind about console FPS gaming in terms of gameplay? Yes indeed it has. Controls were fluid, aiming was simple and while they were moments of inaccuracy, for much of the game I felt in total control. The only issue I have is the cover system, which isn't at all helpful. The game also supports Six Axis motion controller, but fortunately are only limited to a very small portion of unnecessary gameplay. Sony's PlayStation Move controller is also supported, but I've no such peripheral to test the game with.

There are plenty of weapon to choose from. You can only carry three weapons, a pistol, rifle and some special really awesome big ones like the WASPS rocket launcher which secondary fire can destroy tanks, or if you want to, bombard a large group a Helghast enemies together. Each weapon is as satisfying to fire as the next. My highlight is probably the bolt gun. Hit an enemy with one and they fly away and get stuck to a wall, blood splattered all around the body. Killzone 3 is an incredibly violent and visceral game. The brutal melee system in particular provides the player with a gruesome detail on how to kill an enemy combatant.

There is plenty of satisfaction in firing a WASPS rocket launcher
I found the A.I. of the enemies to be impressive. They hide whenever they spot you. If you do not time your grenade throw properly, they will scatter away to safety. During gun battles, they will attempt to sneak up behind you if there is a route, or flee to a better cover spot. Shoot that cover spot away and they will find another one. Your war buddies are equally clever, though they sometimes charge up at enemies without thinking ahead. However for most of the campaign they hold back, take cover measure and will even attempt to revive you if there is a chance. Some NCPs can not be killed, but you can always delay reviving them especially if you decide they are getting in the way rather than helping.

Despite the mediocre storyline, it keeps the pacing well in checked. Levels are divided into chapters with a suitable variety of locations to keep the average gamer interested. You get to play as a gunner of a tank, hover ship and space fighter (all on-rails); and control Exos, a mech exoskeleton. In one level Sev also gets hold of a Helghast jetpack. While the jetpack created some interesting set pieces, it was slow and I was glad to be rid of it. The jetpack is also available in a multiplayer map. There are no boss levels in Killzone 3, apart from perhaps the one with the gigantic MAWR. In one level the gameplay pace changes to that of stealth, though there is no stopping you if you wish to charge in.

Environment is stunningly detailed
Visually Killzone 3 is easily one of the most stunning games I've played on the PS3. Despite the environmental effect, hundreds of bullets wheezing by and explosions, the game hardly stutters. Frame rate is consistent apart from the few odd moments. Locations from nuclear wasteland, to the arctic landscape and alien jungle were all beautifully rendered. Cover areas can be shot at and thus exposed, and the tiles and plasters on pillars stripped away but as a whole Killzone 3 does not feature destructible environment. Despite the attention to detail, there is hardly any time admire the fantastic artwork when shooting at wave and wave of enemy troops.

Killzone 3's multiplayer support includes local splitscreen co-op (which I was unable to test) and typical traditional multiplayer components. These includes Guerilla Warfare (classic team death match), Warzone (objective based such as capture, search and assassination) and Operations (defend and assault). Players can choose from five classes: Engineer, Tactician, Infiltrator , Marksman and Field Medic, all of which have their own abilities. For example Medics can treat team members who are close to death while Engineers will come in handy in repairing broken turrets. Infiltrators on the other hand has the ability to disguise themselves as so on. You get to unlock new weapons for the class of your choice using skill points earned while fighting in the said class.

I've not played a game with such intensity and epicness as Killzone 3 in a long time. If you are a first person shooter fan and is willing to excuse the forgettable plot, this may just be the game for you. With local co-op and extensive multiplayer component, Killzone 3 represents great value for those looking for pure action and fun.

7/10 (single player score) 8/10 (overall)

Killzone 3 is available now for PlayStation 3. Buy it from Amazon UK or Amazon.com and you will be supporting this blog.

Thanks to Sony Computers Entertainment Europe for providing us with a copy of Killzone 3

1 comment:

Selene said...

Nice review. I am glad you are reviewing games again. Will you be reviewing more in the future?