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If there is something Guerilla Games are good at, its taking the feedback from their customers to heart. But when they lean so far to listen to the whinings of minorities it puts the stability of what they themselves believe to be a good game into turmoil. Killzone 2, the previous iteration of the series was a fantastic gritty game implementing a 'teamwork- or die' like strategy to its multi-player alongside a heavy feeling that the game was loved and hated for. Brushing off its marmite-like controls, Killzone 2 online was superb, immersive and difficult. It was constantly being updated with game tweaks: bots being too weak, then too strong, until the miserable voices were at a less audible distance. Naturally, Killzone 3 is this warped version of its predecessor tailored to fit a wider audience, that's great, but I felt a bit out of touch to what to me defined Killzone and set it aside from the Call of Duty crowd.
Killzone 3 picks off from where Killzone 2 left off, on Helghan with Visari dead and what feels like the whole planet against them, the remaining ISA soldiers ( including Sevchenko, Rico and Captain Narville) make an effort to escape the planet that they had previously declared war upon. The game ventures through some pretty sudden changes of scenery, from the grey and brown cities of Helghan to the over saturated vibrancy of a dense helghan jungle, to snowy strongholds. Killzone 2 was pretty dull in terms of colours, but that was just how it was and it pulled it off tremendously. I welcome the slightly more colourful Killzone 3 (likely influenced by complainers of the colour scheme used on the previous game) but it feels slightly tacked on with areas sprouting oranges and yellows which never really needed to be there. The jungle makes for an exception, filled with glowing plants and bugs, for the first time it really reminds you that you are on the alien world of Helghan. Graphically, there does not seem to be much of an improvement but is still looking as crisp as ever.
The game difficulty has been toned down, making the Elite difficulty mode a much easier feat than Killzone 2. There doesn't really seem to be much of a difference between the 4 difficulty settings, but I guess since the AI were already pretty damn good its hard to make them any better. The game controls are likely the most noticeable change to Killzone 2. The weighty feeling is almost completely gone which makes for far easier aiming. I do welcome the change, but cannot help but long for more weight to the controls as before. These adjustments make Killzone 3 far far easier to get going with as it feels much more like the standard FPS set-up. Despite the change of sensitivity, the game plays out as it once does using the duck and cover system to dive behind cover which doesn't actually fully protect you. Melee attacks are nothing short of excellent, from eye gouging, to neck-snapping, these brutal melee kills are a definite improvement over the simple gun hit. The single-player typically pans out with you making slow progress towards the objective, peeking around and nailing several bullets into the enemy Helghast soldiers before proceeding to the next fire fight as most FPS games typically do. Things are made a little more interesting with several sequences that involve gunning down a huge huge walking tank and using a jet-pack. These are made short, but sweet.
Story was never a particular strength for Killzone, but I must say I've always been more inclined to follow and actually remember what occurred. I can't say that for the likes of any other shooter I've played which I quickly forget and often do not even bother listening to. Without Visari, I felt that the story itself would be much less enjoyable. However, I was pleasantly surprised. With Visari gone, order within the Helghast becomes unstable, with internal conflicts giving a little background to the infinitely more interesting side of the war, the Helghast, the 'baddies' who want the ISA forces off their planet. Killzone 3 could have wrapped up very nicely, yet falls upon another cliffhanger for likely the 4th instalment of the series.
Killzone 3 also utilises 3D and the Move controller. Sadly I own none of these so cannot make a judgement on either.
The real heart of Killzone is its multi-player, its predecessor delivered what was to me a very solid experience if a bit difficult and occasionally boring after a while. Catering to the complaints of players and to a wider range of players in general, the multi-player has been modified, dumbed down perhaps. The game is sluggish as it was before, but with its lighter controls has made for slightly more run and gun style battles. There is no longer squad spawning, making squads practically useless along with pre-determined tactical spawn locations. With the lack of squad spawning and with the now lighter controls, teamwork is much less
Killzone 3 bears 3 game modes and a matchmaking system (its unfortunate you can no longer create your own games with its own rules). The 3 modes are Guerilla Warfare - standard team deathmatch, Warzone and Operations. Warzone is simply a copy and paste mode from Killzone 2 which isn't a bad thing. It is a game mode where a random objective (team deathmatch, search & destroy, search & retrieve, assassination, capture & hold) is chosen and once a team has won that mode, another is selected. The team with the most wins, wins the game. Operations is my favourite game mode out of the 3. It tries to add a little piece of an incentive to winning the match by adding a sort of ongoing mission feel to the game. The Helghast are the defending team whilst the ISA must complete all 3 small objectives to win the game that the Helghast are defending. During the course of the game there are short cut-scenes staring the best players in your team which is fun to watch. It's unfortunate there are only 3 different maps which it can be played on, for it is by far the best for teamwork and the feeling of achievement.
The level up system is about class development. The player can choose to spend ability points on whatever class (Engineer, Medic, Infiltrator, Tactician or Marksmen) as they please to concentrate their skills on the role they favour most. Classes have been reworked from Killzone 2 and a few abilities have been tinkered with, removed and added. Again each class has a primary and secondary ability. However, it is no longer possible to change the secondary ability with that of another class. If its capturing areas of the map to give access to jet-packs, walking tanks or mortar strikes, or getting up close and personal disguised as the enemy in their own camp, there is a role for everyone to fulfil to bring victory to their team.
Its hard to say Killzone 3 is much better than Killzone 2. It doesn't have the same solid feeling to the game-play as Killzone 2 did and isn't exactly the FPS of all time. Saying that, its a fine game and I really enjoy playing Killzone 3. In fact, I'd go as far to say I prefer the multi-player due to the strict class abilities as a whole, yet it feels like it is missing a few aspects of Killzone 2 which would make Killzone 3 the ultimate experience for me. If you are new to Killzone, I recommend Killzone 3 over the 2nd game, for it is a far easier game to pick up, play and generally get into. Unfortunately I find that my friends lost interest very very quickly in the multi-player, leaving me a lonely trooper on Helghan.
So, Killzone 3 has come about and with it a new wave of hype. The 360 after all has the Halo series, so Sony has to have the equivalent. Unfortunately, hype always leads to bloated expectations, meaning as good as the Killzone series it, the reviews have been quite underwhelming purely because they haven't matched Halo. So let's see what the newest Killzone game is like.
You play as a soldier of the ISA, locked in a bitter war with the enemies, the Helghast, a faction of humans that were mutated from the harsh environments they suffered during space colonization. The plot actually has great potential, though ultimately fails in its execution. I'm of the belief that no matter how good an FPS game is online, a good offline is needed for it to be ranked up there with the best. People will have hundreds of hours of game time on Modern Warfare for example, but they'll always remember 'that' sniper level in the single player campaign. Unfortunately however, Killzone 3 already falls short. The story is dull; instead of a tale of depth and morality, the enemies are instead portrayed as British-Space Nazi's, useful only for an increased kill count. This would be fine if the allies had any depth but unfortunately the ISA are portrayed as the stereotypical soldiers you see in bad war films. They have no personality or charm and few qualities that actually make me want to take an interest in the story itself.
Aside from the story itself the game does fare better however. The campaign of the game can be played either single player or split screen co-op and there is a fair amount of variety. The campaign mode will have you running about on foot with various types of weapons, from short range machine guns to long range sniping, and to spice it up a little there's also a fair amount of vehicle sections. I've long had a problem with vehicles in FPS games. They never manage to be as exhilarating as they should be, and you are left with awkward controls and a jetpack that effectively allows a big jump.
Put a gun in your hand however and the game is a lot more enjoyable. It is here that you get to enjoy the AI of the Helghast. Unlike Call of Duty for example the difficulty in Killzone doesn't come from the amount of hours that can be thrown at you but rather the tactics of the enemy as they try to flank you. The enemies are hard to see - you need to look out for the distinctive glowing eyes, meaning you are a dead man if you step out of cover and you aren't careful. As with the predecessor, there is still a weight to your character meaning you don't feel light a floating gun but it seems to have been reduced, brining it more into line with other FPS games. However, in the process it has lost some of its identity. A stealth and sniper mission early on in the game is a real laugh, but is a failed copy of the flashback sniper mission of Modern Warfare. Again, not far into the game you'll hop into what is effectively a smaller Metal Gear.
It doesn't lead to a bad game of course but when a game series is hyped so much you expect more. One brilliant system of Killzone 3 is the cover system that allows you to hide behind, and peek from behind cover and it really helps immerse you in the game. There's little more annoying in an FPS game than having to step completely from your cover just to fire a shot, but Killzone avoids this.
If you play the campaign mode of the game you'll be playing the same story. Too many developers overlook the fun a gamer can have playing with someone in the same room, it is just a shame there isn't also an online co-op. Strangely when in co-op, the split screen doesn't utilise the full screen size, and with enemies being hard to hit from behind cover anyway, and objective writing already being small, it leads to quite a bit of frustration that could easily be avoided.
The graphics are, as expected, gorgeous. You'll go from urban cities to sublime snow covered environments and it is jaw dropping to see. If you are lucky enough to be able to play in 3D, Killzone 3 is definitely for you, and it similarly has Playstation Move Support. For me however, I played in HD and with a standard controller.
The controls are, unusually, also worth a mention. The default layout of the controller will have you pressing a shoulder button to melee and R3 to aim. It doesn't feel natural and I find it suspicious when a developer has a different control scheme. The story and gameplay should be unique, not the control scheme - especially when the standard control scheme found in FPS games suits the game perfectly (and can thankfully be selected in the options).
If you are in the market for an FPS game however, chances are it is the online you will be looking for and this is where the Killzone series exceeds. You have the choice of 5 classes all with unique abilities that drastically change the way you play the game. As you kill and capture objectives you will level up, granting you points to spend on new weapons and abilities to make the classes more effective. For example, the Marksman class grants you a predator-style invisibility, and infiltrator allows you to disguise yourself as the enemy to enable you to sneak up on your foe and silently take them out. If you want a more in-your-face style of gameplay however then the other classes may be for you. Engineers can build turrets for example, and tacticians exceed in capturing objectives. Medics can revive wounded allies.
As you level up you will be able to improve these abilities and get a wider range of guns. The vastly different classes come into great use for example when playing with your friends, enabling different tactics. The level up system only has one disadvantage and that is that newer players will be at a disadvantage though it doesn't take long to upgrade your first class.
There are three game modes to choose from - the first effectively being a Team Deathmatch which is always fun. On the whole the maps are smaller, but varied, with the enclosed Kaznan Jungle for example being a contrast to the Bilgarsk Boulevard, a larger map perfect for snipers. The map size (and maximum amount of players) is smaller than it was in Killzone 2 however which is a bit of a disappointment and I do find myself longing for one or two of the Killzone 2 maps occasionally but overall the maps are good quality.
The second mode is actually several modes rolled into one, rolling objectives. In half an hour you'll be tasked with missions of assassination or protection, search and destroy modes and team deathmatch style free for alls. It's brilliantly fun and fast paced and again, perfect to play with a group of your mates if you have a headset. The maps here are larger than they are in Team Deathmatch, which makes me think this is really the go-to mode with the Team Deathmatch mode merely being there for practice. I can't blame the developers however, since this mode really is the highlight of the game.
The third mode, Operations, includes cinematics which is quite unique and really shows the developers going for something different though it is largely still an objective based mode.
Overall, I'll say if you are looking for a story based game or a game to play offline, Killzone 3 isn't for you. Though the single player mode is above average, there are better offline games out there. If, on the other hand you are looking for a game to waste the days away playing online, this game is definitely for you. The multiplayer rises above the single player and can keep you going for months with the brilliant class design and varied online modes.
The online definitely deserves full marks but I'll mark it down for an uninspiring offline mode that doesn't match the brilliant online mode.
Available exclusively on the Playstation 3, Killzone 3 can be purchased from Amazon for £38 new or £28 (+ P&P) on the Marketplace.
Killzone 3 (PS3)
Tested and reviewed based on the Playstation 3
Based on the 2D experience with Wireless controller. No Move or 3D in this review.
Review by Ben Nacca Ben.Nacca@Lanraiders.co.uk
XBL GT: Darkeyes2k7 PSN ID: Darkeyes2k11
Back when the PS2 was at its height of gaming glory, there was only one first person shooter that really stood out for me as something new, something that would shake the ground a little bit. This was Guerrilla Games' Killzone. Naturally, a sequel was to follow onto the PS3 and Killzone 2 garnered a success, offering a solid shooting game on the PS3 combined with a dark story to build upon.
Now most people, apparently, complained that Guerrilla Games' Killzone series was too depressing and that Killzone 2 was so grim that is was at times upsetting to play. First of all I would just like to add that this is a game about war and political oppression. If you want happiness, go play Little Big Planet 2 for something more light hearted and casual. However, the developers have took note and have tried to make this a lighter tale albeit still quite turmoil with the emotions which the story delivers.
The game starts off right where Killzone 2 left it, with Visari dead at the hands of Rico and yourself, Sevchenko. Following these two through their struggle to get off the planet and escape in the cross-fire of the ISA and Helghast forces is just one aspect of the game, as Killzone 3 attempts to give the players an insight into the lives of the Helghast, the culture and politics behind them and ultimately a test to find their humanity, if any is left there at all. As well as the story being more light hearted this time round, the swearing that was so frequently featured in Killzone 2 has come to a minimal appearance now, with Guerrilla Games also taking those complaints into account. I must say though that it is true, that less is better as I found on the occasions that swearing did happen, it was much more powerful and drove the story through the characters feelings and frustrations.
Unfortunately, the story is not as powerful, as it tends to get to a point where the interest just wanders off and you are just playing through a level, completing an objective. This is a shame in many respects and it is largely down to the characters speech. The voice work is impeccable and has been backed by some Hollywood talent such as Ray Winstone and Malcolm MacDowell but the overall character development slowly turns to nothing as you start to not care what your character is feeling or doing.
There is no doubting that the characters look realistic, with some of most impressive visuals for characters I have ever seen. The graphics in Killzone 3 are fantastic to the very facial features of each character to the complexion of the withering Helghast politicians. The rest of the game looks nice as well, escaping the "city only" levels of Killzone 2 and going back to the roots of the first game, sending the player into the bitter arctic environments, into space and into alien jungles where most of the inhabitants, plants or creatures, will try to kill you.
However, there are more bugs than just in the jungle, with quite a few being technical issues such as glitch Helghast soldiers, bullet casings landing on thin air and shooting with a rifle has to be done in space, because otherwise it will hit the invisible wall around the structures and sceneries which can be very annoying. A small amount of pop ups and rendering issues can be seen but that is very rare and is for the most part created very well.
Killzone 3 handles very much like its predecessor but with some extra tweaks here and there with a few new additions. The brutal melee is a fine example and it works fantastically to take out your enemies in all sorts of ways. Clicking the right thumbstick, or L1 depending on your controller configuration, when close enough creates an instant kill moment most of the time with a blade to the eye or a neck snap as opposed to just slapping them with the end of your rifle...there is no pun intended. Most of the Helghast act as bullet sponges and take quite a few bullets unless you get a single one to the head, which has been the case with the series but does seem to lack a certain degree of realism that a full clip can enter an enemy and he can still get up sometimes but we are in a fictional futuristic world so one cannot have room to be sceptical.
An issue with the handling would be with the covering system. It is just one problem that I think sails above the rest and that it is the worst covering system I have ever encountered. Pressing L2 when next to a wall will let you crouch and lean against it, enabling you to peak over cover or around it and shoot enemies and jump over it if necessary. Unfortunately, cover does not help all that much as there is a lack of blind fire, a bug at times where you lean round the corner but cannot shoot and you still get torn to shreds by a hail of bullets either way. I find it makes the game more difficult but not in a challenging way, just makes it harder to progress through as it will test your patience. That said, you cannot fault the weapon mechanics or the graphics and sounds around that area since all are in top form.
For those wondering on the lifespan of Killzone 3, the campaign on normal difficulty will be around 7-12 hours, depending on your skill with higher difficulties adding to that and potentially doubling those figures if you are struggling or taking your time. It is by no means an experience you should rush though and the varied landscapes are complimented by breaks in play as you drive in tanks, EVO (Mech suits basically) and fly jetpacks around the levels at times. If that doesn't hold your attention for long then there is local splitscreen co-operative play that allows you and a friend to blast through the campaign together. Unfortunately there is no online co-op modes but it is nice to see a developer still favouring the splitscreen option. Many games omit this for online co-op when sometimes it is better to have someone actually next to you than being miles away. In addition to this, there is a mode called Botzone, which is pretty much local multiplayer and then the online aspect which lets you take the fight to the PS Network.
The multiplayer follows Halo in a way with parts of levels in the campaign turned into multiplayer maps to slaughter your enemies on. Graphically the game still looks superb online and levels are vast and varied to entice you to change your tactics as you play. 3 game modes that vary from your normal deathmatch to objective based games feature and online development is in place as well. Ranking up in Killzone 3 is by the amount of kills you get x 100 to give you the XP you receive. When you rank up, you receive an unlock point. This lets you unlock weapons in any of the numerous classes that help you tailor the online experience to how you want to play. You unlock what you will need and that makes the experience so much more personal.
The trophies are varied and are rewarding, with a nice mix of single player and multiplayer trophies on offer. A lot of the offline trophies can be received just by playing through the campaign and doing certain tasks while the others online will require skill and practice.
Fantastic character models and a rich array of environments in both the single player and multiplayer experiences. Lighting and special effects are superb and is only let down by some poor technical issues but nothing to major thankfully.
A stellar vocal performance from the voice cast but the script at times could have done with some extra work. Less swearing but more punch certainly helps and the emotions are conveyed perfectly. Weapons and explosions are as crisp and realistic as you would expect from a First Person Shooter game.
Some solid controls and indulging campaign let down by a dodgy cover system, invisible walls and a dire lack of interest as you progress into the story. A strong effort and the multiplayer is a well worked accomplishment that lets people tailor their playing style to how they rank up.
Plenty of options with campaign and multiplayer let alone co-op and local multiplayer. If that is not enough then there is the 3D experience if you have a 3D television and a Playstation Move option as well.
A great list to make you challenge all aspects of the game as seems to be the trend nowadays. A rewarding and inviting challenge that will make you work for your platinum trophy.
Guerrilla Games have managed to make a fine sequel to Killzone 2 and have shown their dedication to the gaming community with the amount of tweaks and changes they have made based on the fans requests. A well-polished game that just lacks that punch towards the end of the story but a solid and compelling multiplayer should be enough to save it. As mentioned above as well, 3D and PS Move controls can make this even more enticing but this game in 2D alone definitely barges its way past a vast amount of the shooters on PS3.
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