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Killzone 3

 

Killzone 3

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: PS3
Category: First Person Shooter
 
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Author:

Developer: Guerilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Features:

1 Player
Network Players: 2-24
Required HDD Space: 5 MB
HD Video Output: 480p/720p
3D Enabled
Dual Shock 3 Compatible
Headset Compatible
Sharp Shooter Compatible

I enjoyed Sony’s release of Killzone 2 in 2009, but I have to say that I haven’t looked at that title for well over a year or so. Since then I have moved on to other games, other genres, and other experiences. One genre that I have always been interested in is first person shooters. I have played quite a few over the last few years, and when a new one comes out, I find myself playing it to see what all the hubbub is about. Well Sony has recently released Killzone 3, a game that I was keeping my eyes on, and after sitting down with the final retail version I have to say that they have another winner on their hands.

Graphics

Visually Killzone 3 is a damn good looking game. I would venture to say that the graphics are yet again another demonstration of what Sony’s “Do Everything” console can do. In many ways the shine is found in the level design. You will find yourself battling it out in decimated urban areas, jungles, arctic environments (with crashing waves of course), and well designed corridors, to name a few. Small details are found in each such as crumbing walls, snow, weather beaten platforms, blood stained floors, twisted metal, and thick blowing smoke. All the signs that battles raged and violence occurred are very well portrayed. Of course there is ample use of special effects too, from incredible explosions, tricky use of lighting, well implemented shadows, and even a splash of particle effects from alien weapons. If the PS3 can do it, you’ll find it here. Trust me, the first time you see the sun shining down from the broken cloud cover and the resulting shadows and details found all over the level, you’ll know that Guerilla spent a lot of time working on the graphics' engine.

Killzone 3 takes advantage of the PS3’s ability to do 3D, unfortunately I do not have a 3D display unit available to me, but we did send fellow staffer John E. to the launch event for Canadian media, and he said the effect was very convincing and not just a novelty. The depth that the game portrays was pretty neat and looking through a gun’s scope or iron sights was much more ‘realistic’ so to speak.

Sound

The audio found in Killzone 3 compliments everything else in this game. The musical score has some very impactful moments and adds to the tension and excitement of some of the levels. There is no doubt that the music throughout the game is meant to play on your audio senses, and it does a pretty good job of doing such. The voice work is also worth mentioning. You’ll find some pretty big names like Malcolm McDowell and Ray Winstone, who play Helghast characters, add to the authenticity of this area. All the voice acting in general helps portray the story being told, and kudos to Guerilla here. Finally, the sound effects as a whole are well implemented. If you look on the back of the Killzone 3’s game case, you’ll see that it is available in DTS. I am an audio whore so to speak, and hearing all the gunfire, explosions, flying ships, and whatever else, in pure uncompressed digital sound, was awesome. And if, like me, you play this on a home theatre system, you’ll give your surrounds a great work out, as well as your subwoofer too.

Gameplay

Killzone 3 does a good job of keeping continuum in the story. You pretty much pick up right where Killzone 2 left off as you take on the role of Sev, from the last game, and you are trapped and struggling to survive on the Helghan homeworld. You are out for as much Helghan blood as possible before you are either rescued, caught, or god forbid killed. Although the story has some good plot points, I found that it jumped all over the place. Sure, the narrative itself really manages to set up why you are exploring the sections you need to, but overall it just didn’t grab me. Jumping all over the place, story wise, was a little disjointing at times, and there was no reason to get involved in what was really going on. I can’t put my finger on it, but it felt like developer Guerilla missed a great opportunity to really expand on the characters and reasons for doing what you did.

Killzone 3 is a strictly linear experience. There is no exploring your environment, no branching paths, or no optional way to do anything. The game guides you on your journey. Regardless, each battle or set piece you are involved in is quite intense and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s amazing how much goes on on-screen; it really keeps you immersed in the battles you are fighting and the scenarios you are trying to complete. You really don’t realize that you are being directed down a specific path so to speak.

I have to say that Killzone 3 is a great feeling FPS, there is no doubt about that. I remember when our community started playing Killzone 2 there were a lot of complaints about the floaty control and how the game just didn’t feel “tight.” Well those concerns are not evident here. The control feels solid and there is no blaming the feel of such for missing a shot. If there is anything that I can say, it is that it is somewhat realistic, given that there feels like there is weight and momentum from the weapons. Yes, it sounds weird to say that, as you are playing through a controller, but trust me, you're just not a gun and hands floating through the air on-screen. For those not accustomed to playing FPS games on the PS3, or FPS games at all, the control is easy to pick up and you’ll be blasting baddies away in no time.

Killzone 3 also supports both Sony’s Move as well as their Sharp Shooter peripheral that incorporates the Move. I don’t have the Sharp Shooter peripheral, but as mentioned, John E. was at the Canadian launch event and all those who played with the peripheral were somewhat surprised with how it felt and how it controlled. Pretty cool stuff indeed. Of course you can use the Move by itself, and although very functional, and a different way to play the game, nothing beats the accuracy of a controller and analog sticks in your hands.

The computer AI you battle against is a formidable foe as well. You’ll find that they don’t make for simple cannon fodder as they search for and use cover, move from spots that are being attacked, and even bolt when you throw a grenade in their specific direction. They will try to flank you when given a chance and overall they make your movement forward a challenging one. As for your teammate AI, it too is not bad at all. Sure, there is the odd time when you feel they are not as effective as they could be, but overall they are not a “band of idiots” and they help you in your quest to move on. Thank you Guerilla for not taking any shortcuts in this area.

The single player campaign is quite short, lasting about five hours or so, depending on your skill, and the skill level you play the game on. You can always crank up the skill level and play again, but you’ll already know the game's high and low points in terms of story, so this makes it tough to do. That being said, this game is not all about the single player experience.

As much as the single player gameplay has some great elements, even with the speed bump of the story, the multiplayer component really shines and helps round out a great Killzone package. There are three modes of gameplay available in multiplayer. These are: Warzone (returns from Killzone 2), Guerilla Warfare (returns from Killzone 2) and Operation (New to Killzone). Warzone offers up a bevy of different modes within its gameplay session, so you may find yourself playing some simple team deathmatch and then it automatically switches it is up to protecting a single player or defending a specific area. Guerilla Warfare is the simplest, as it is just a team deathmatch mode where you try to kill each other. The new mode, Operation, is an attack and defend style of play and very easy to pick up and understand. Overall these modes are enjoyable, but you’ll find yourself playing Warzone the most as it changes up the gameplay within a single session so that you are not doing the same thing over and over again.

As you play the various multiplayer games you earn skill points that you will spend on class specific and/or universal unlocks. New to Killzone 3 — you are forced to choose a class from the moment you jump online and into a match. So essentially you need to look at what classes are available and make sure you pick one you want to stick with for awhile. You can choose from Engineer, Marksman, Tactician, Infiltrator, and Field Medic. There is something here for everyone. Given this new feature of choosing your class, you will find that you get the opportunity to use some of the game’s more interesting weapons, especially for that class, earlier on in your career; however, you may feel a bit of disappointment as you are locked into that class and your online progression may not seem as rewarding later on. Regardless, I think that the positives outweigh the negatives here as all the classes are enjoyable.

Overall my time online was pretty good. I found that I was not affected by any lag, and there were only a few bouts of slowdown, but this occurred in the larger matches. If I have any complaint, and this was echoed by all those playing the game online, it is that inviting those to play in the same match, as well as squad invites, can be troublesome. I have to admit that I still prefer Xbox LIVE over PSN, but it does seem that Sony is working on improving their online experience as this game is better online than Killzone 2.

I should note that there is a cooperative mode, but unfortunately this is a same console (split screen) experience. This is somewhat disappointing given how well the game plays online, competitively speaking, and having to play the game on the same screen with one other person is somewhat of a letdown given that online cooperative play is so much better. In many ways this feels tacked on and almost an afterthought.


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