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Whilst there's something to be said for knowing a console's limitations, there's also benefit in utilising its strengths. It's odd that Killzone, a series increasingly renowned for its technical prowess on home consoles, would play host to such a meek, uneventful handheld debut that on many levels, seems reluctant to put the PSP through its paces.
Given the game is subtitled Liberation, it's ironic that it comes to be defined by its limits; firstly that of an unadventurous game engine, and subsequently the limits of the player's patience, as the annoyances and difficulty level start to escalate. Acting as a chronological bridge between the PS2 original and PS3 sequel Killzone 2, the player once again takes control of Jan Templar in his battle to defend the human colony of Vekta against the advanced, devious Helghast. This time, he has to deal with committed sadist and all-round evil guy General Metrac and his army of red-eyed, trenchcoat-wearing goons.
It's unlikely that originality will ever be cited too prominently in a synopsis of what makes Killzone enjoyable, but there are elements that have come to characterise the series' playing experience: phenomenal graphics; brutal, satisfying weapons; devious enemies, atmospheric environments... none of which Liberation is able to recreate with any great aplomb. It's not so much that it doesn't endeavour to a level of quality, it's more that the gameplay is so old-skool that any such lofty ambitions are rendered largely unattainable from the get-go, leaving a creaky-feeling shoot 'em up with few bangs and whistles.
Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and Resistance: Retribution have proven that, control restrictions aside, the PSP has enough clout to handle a proper, full-blooded third-person shoot 'em up, but this is a rather more tepid adventure. Playing from a top-down perspective, the missions consist of some large but fairly linear maze-like warzones, built around trenches, harbours and the now-obligatory foray into Apocalypse Now-inspired swamps. However, classy presentation is really the only factor that distinguishes it from the kind of shooters that were being phased out by the end of the nineties and subsequently condemned to a life on mobile phones. Advancing technology meant we didn't have to put up with all the nuisances inherent in such titles, but Liberation seems determined to dig up troubles that had mostly been laid to rest a decade or more before its release.
Foremost among them is the absence of a proper aiming function; you just sort of point Templar in the desired direction, shoot, and hope for the best. The hit-and-miss nature is magnified with enemies perched at higher vantage points - sometimes you'll aim higher, sometimes not. Using the analogue nub for manoeuvring is cumbersome, whilst the armoured vehicles you get to pilot, such as a hovercraft, are pretty crummy too. They get snagged on scenery a lot, whilst swinging the turret round with the shoulder buttons never feels comfortable and generally you're left feeling like you're in a position of vulnerability rather than one of power.
Helghast troops take an inordinate amount of ammo to dispatch, whilst the guns themselves are a major disappointment, lacking panache, punch and variety of design. Due to the primitive nature of the aiming, there's little possibility of quick dispatches via headshots or otherwise-clever targeting - just the (very) occasional silent takedown, which is a risky tactic anyway given how rubbish Templar is at close-quarters. The cover system is decent, encouraging the player to make use of a good portion of the environment as well as the crouch function in order to avoid sustaining damage, and many situations do demand real thought and timing if you're going to progress. However, covering is often undermined by the strange and aggravating tactics of armoured, shotgun-wielding foes who'll happily walk out onto an open battlefield just to encroach on your position - a suicidal tactic, but an unwelcome one that usually ends up with the player needlessly losing health.
Perhaps the most terminal of Killzone: Liberation's afflictions however is that, to put it bluntly, it's never any fun to play. This might be in part down to its struggle to determine the nature of the experience it's trying to offer; it doesn't have the depth of commands or tactics required to feel like a proper tactical shoot 'em up, and yet plods along at too sedate a pace to work as a more accessible, run 'n' gun style affair. The simplistic nature of the aiming would suggest the thing to do would be to go for accessible, quick-moving gameplay. Instead, it bogs the player down with a lumbering approach that sees you ambling from cover point to cover point, teaming-up with a buddy whom you can issue rudimentary commands, or shepherd some generally dim-witted civilians to evacuation points. Even at its least frustrating and most fluid, the experience is distinctly workmanlike. The shootouts lack the visceral quality of its big-screen brothers, and prove boring and tedious to be involved with. When Liberation starts to turn up the heat on our trundling hero, it becomes a bit too much like hard work. Helghast begin to ambush from multiple positions, whilst those with rocket launchers have an irritating habit of being able to take you out with one hit, making for some rather excruciating passages of play.
From a technical standpoint, it's a real Jekyll and Hyde affair, with its aged gameplay contrasting with some truly terrific, crisp and dynamic FMVs that are some of the best seen on the PSP. The in-game graphics themselves are fairly good too; they lack the grimy, atmospheric quality of the console versions, but feature some detailed landscapes replete with scarred trenches, smoking craters and buckled fences. The one note of disappointment visually concerns the unremarkable characters, with the Helghast lacking their usual intimidating flair and Templar coming across as an unconvincing hero, seemingly modelled on the love-child of Solid Snake and Action Man.
Liberation's strongest asset is the smart manner in which it distributes its rewards, meaning if you can stomach the ponderous gameplay, there's a lot in here for a handheld shoot 'em up. Completing a mission (usually three or four levels) opens up a raft of bonus games that include variants on base-defence, setting C4 charges and guiding tracking mines into cages. The more efficiently you complete these tasks, the more points you'll gather towards the expansion of your inventory; meaning in time you'll be able to hold more clips, grenades and health packs. Amassing Vetkan dollars from around the levels leads to improved weaponry, which is an intelligent attempt to encourage replay value, even if many weapons are only briefly useful as, depending on the mission, you might not be able to recuperate ammunition for specific guns.
The four campaigns (five if you factor in the free downloadable epilogue available from the PlayStation Network) offer a meaty challenge, but one I suspect many will not see through to the end, due either to the increasingly steep difficulty and cheap A.I., or simply because it just isn't enjoyable enough to persevere with. Killzone: Liberation feels like a missed opportunity; a game that has stumbled backwards into another gaming era. It lacks excitement, it lacks spectacle, and as a result it's no fun to play. It doesn't play to the console's strengths, it doesn't play to Killzone's strengths, and you're left with the impression that, had it not carried the series name on its cover, Liberation wouldn't have warranted a second glance.
I must admit that I wasn't overly fond of the original Killzone for the PS2, but upon playing the excellent Killzone 2 for the PS3, I decided to revisit the series, and in this stead gave the rather good Killzone: Liberation for the PSP a go. The format has been changed somewhat though, and this is in fact a 3rd person shooter, aiming to bridge the gap between the first and second game. The story is the same as always; the Nazi-like Helghast are trying to enslave humanity, and you must attempt to stop them.
Control-wise, things are surprisingly good for a PSP game. It's quite intuitive, but sadly there's no option to bind the controls as you like. To combat the single analogue stick problem, the game offers assisted aim, which you will either find helpful or simply too easy. Also, it will occasionally lock on to the wrong enemy which can be annoying.
There's a fair amount to do on the game once you beat it; there's a few difficulty settings, and a lot of ways to level up your weapon that require multiple playthroughs. Also, there is a Challenge Mode to test your true mettle, and completing a challenge results being awarded some gold. There's also an online feature although I've had nothing but problems getting it to work since its launch, and upon looking online, many others seem to have also.
Through and through, this is an improvement over the original PS2 game, which didn't exactly set a good precedent for the series. The missions are well designed and a lot of fun, even if you do go an uncomfortable amount of time without saving. This is the anti-Rambo game; you can't run and gun, and instead it requires intelligent, strategic play which will reward your brain. It's not a long game by any means, but there's a wealth to come back to for completionists.
This is the second installment in the Killzone franchise, the first being a PS2 title, which in all honesty failed to meet up to the hype that surrounded its release.
It comes as a pleasant surprise then, that this installment is a vastly superior game than the original. The first one was a bug-ridden, cumbersome first person shooter that was enjoyable but the flaws were all too obvious. This time around, the action is viewed from a top down perspective, and the missions are kept short and simple, perfect for a mobile gaming platform.
Conrols are easy to pick up- it only takes 10 or so minutes of playing through the excellent introductory mission to really get to grips with it, and everything is smooth and responsive. The developers have really produced a control scheme that suits the PSP (other titles have struggled with the limited control options allowed by Sony's portable machine).
The game is challenging and fun, but never frustrating. You always know where you're meant to be going next, and the combat rarely feels like a chore. Well placed checkpoints also mean that if you do die during a mission, you don't have to repeat too much of the level to catch up. The story, while extremely simple, does an effective job of bridging the gap between the original game and Killzone 2 (which is available on the PS3). On the downside, the game is rather short, the campaign is made up of 4 chapters, each with 4 missions each. A fifth chapter is available for download, but you can only get it from the games website via the PSP browser accessed through the game's menu. There is no other easy way to download it (such as to your PC then across to the PSP, as you can with other titles), so if you don't have access to wi-fi, then you could be missing out on what is effectively the final fifth of the story, which is a shame.
In short, this is definitely a worthwhile purchase, especially seeing as you can pick it up for less than 15 quid now.
Killzone liberation is a follow-on from Killzone on the ps2 and nothing of the killzone experience has been lost.
The story goes as the helghast launching another attack on the ISA home planet and you (played as Jan Templar) are sent in as a special forces agent to try and eliminate Metrac, the helghast emperor.
The graphics are quite amazing for the psp system, and the gameplay is consistantly fluid. I found it to be very addictive mainly due to the scale of the maps and variety of enemies.
The controls are well managed and implimented on the psp system, perhaps a tad tricky to start with but easy to get used to. The only thing that perhpas could have been improved is the aiming system, which sometimes can prove quite difficult.
The sounds of the battlefield have been well captured and the game is available to play as multiplayer (up to 6 people)
A must buy for any Killzone fan out there, this game will keep you playing and playing.
I picked up this game to continue from the Killzone game on Playstation 2. The game is very good and has some fantastic gameplay experiences.
The graphics are very good and some of the best on the PSP system. The sound is very good.
The games doesn't experience any slowdown and has very easy controls to master. However, the game is a little hard so isn't for everyone. The camera is very good enabling you to always see the action. The cover system is very easy to use and will save you many times.
The game starts 2 months after Killzone and you will fight for your life against the Helghast troops. You play as Templar and you have to rescue some hostages held by the Helghast general, Metrac.
The gameplay is very good and will keep you hooked. The game has a great number of weapons to use and the locations are fantastic. The game has a great realistic feel.
The game also has some fantastic multiplayer to play with friends and others on the network.
I feel that Killzone on the PSP is one of the best titles on the system. It is a must buy for every PSP owner.
A continuation of the PS2 Killzone experience, Killzone Liberation takes place two months after and still has you fighting for your life against a seemingly endless number of Helghast troops. You play as Templar and in this installment, while wasting Helghast as you go along, your main objective is to rescue hostages held by the Helghast General, Metrac.
For a PSP game, the graphics look phenomenal. It really goes to show how capable the system is and it's even more impressive when you look at it for yourself. Combined with a new camera that lets you play a more strategic based role in taking down the Helghast, Killzone Liberation is a real breath of fresh air. All the action is still there but with a new lease of life. Whether you're up against infantry or tanks, a quick look around your surroundings will give you the edge in a firefight that's as much about skill as it is prior planning.
As you progress your mission becomes tougher, but then again the weapons available to you become more varied and help to balance out the difficulty. With a well defined sense of realism mixed with the ability to observe enemy behaviour before making that quick kill or mad dash for cover, Killzone Liberation for the PSP is definitely a rock solid title in the series. It's a must for any fan of the game, and with the PSP's multiplayer capability, it's even more fun when you have friends to experience it with. 5 stars.