Killzone 3 Review
|REVIEWS - VIDEOGAME REVIEWS|
Despite much hype and growing competition, Killzone 3 delivers a unique gaming experience that is equal to any of its competitors...
When it comes to the Killzone series, it’s all about action - visceral, beautiful, bloody action. This highly anticipated third outing is certainly no exception, boasting jaw dropping visuals, excellent gameplay and a highly enjoyable multiplayer component with enough depth to keep you coming back for more. For those of you who know the Killzone series, this will be a familiar title to play; to those who don’t - a little back story. The first Killzone was met with mediocre reviews when it arrived on the PlayStation 2, despite many touting the title as PlayStation's answer to Microsoft's dominating FPS, Halo: Combat Evolved. However, cometh the hour, cometh the game, and, in 2009, the PS3 welcomed Killzone 2, a title now revered by its fans and one that ultimately launched its developer - Guerrilla Games - into the spotlight of great FPS-developers. However, it would appear that the Killzone franchise is improving with age, with the third in the series being bigger, better and more enjoyable than its predecessors; offering more variety in locales whilst retaining a focus on intense action and bloody combat.
Killzone 3 is an absolute masterpiece in terms of visual prowess. Every single level looks polished within an inch of its life; whether it’s a jungle overflowing with dangerous wildlife, or frozen tundra with mountains as far as the eye can see. Every single locale is as beautiful and jaw dropping as the last, and they all manage to keep you immersed in this visceral experience. The remnants of a huge mushroom cloud after an atomic explosion looming in the distance; the sun’s rays shining mercilessly through the smoke; both are incredible scenes to behold as the opening level pans out in true warfare brutality. Fortunately, this level of detail and grandeur continues as you progress through the game, exploring more and more of this barren planet which you are so desperately trying to escape from.
The audio presentation is just as strong as the visuals, with some excellent voice acting across the board. The protagonists within the ISA are the standard Americanised war heroes - some modest and some obnoxiously arrogant - yet all still likeable in their own merits. These soldiers are fighting against the Helghast, a group of ruthless warriors who reside on the planet Helghan. Their leaders are a group of English-accented politicians and commanders who have a stark resemblance to Nazi/Soviet leaders, and all are striving for the destruction of the ISA. Malcolm McDowell and Ray Winstone star as two of the Helghast leaders, with both doing a stellar job in regards to their character portrayals.
In terms of the plotline, Killzone 3 isn’t as strong as I would have hoped. Each major set piece is epic and enjoyable, but the tangible plotline feels like more of a weak link between each locale, rather than a foundation for said locales to be built on. The story jumps around in time, and it is sometimes easy to lose track of exactly where you are in the proceedings, which is a drawback especially considering the great universe in which Guerrilla Games has created. This is not a detrimental factor however, with the strength and replay value of the single player offering enough intense action so as to ensure you don't feel too let down by the lack of a great storyline. Whether you’re fighting off an unimaginably large mobile military base, sneaking through hostile vegetation or donning a jetpack through the frozen wastelands, everything in Killzone 3 is perfectly executed to portray its unprecedented action.
The gameplay within is truly magnificent, whether you’re a fan of the Killzone series or not. The basic premise is the same as mostly every other FPS around, but Killzone 3 takes more of an approach to powerful, weighty gunplay; leaving you with an incredible sense of satisfaction throughout the game. Whether you’re firing a seemingly weak pistol, or carrying around a huge mini-gun, everything here feels absolutely great, and the sound effects of every gun are as mind-blowing as the last. There are some new weapons amongst the familiar ones from Killzone 2 - including an awesome silenced SMG which you use to take down Helghast silently in the jungle level - all of which adds to the playability of the game. There is a new Helghast weapon which you wield only a few times throughout the single player campaign, and it releases a charged orb of glowing green energy which rips through your foes, making you feel like an unstoppable force. There are also some new melee attacks, making melee combat far more brutal. However, while there are a number of different attacks which help to mix up the gameplay, they too become tedious after a while, and are only a necessity in close-quarters desperation.
The enemy AI also makes the game a wonderful experience. They will run from a grenade and take cover, or move suitably around the battlefield to get the best possible shot at your face, making it a necessity that you move in and out of cover accordingly to survive. This AI isn’t as impressive when it comes to your own team mates, however, who, while good, will often get in the way of your shots, or simply stand in the middle of an open battle taking fire without any visible effect. These problems weren’t constant, but they stood out considerably against the game's otherwise polished finish.
The controls are as good as always, and the aiming mechanics have been tightened up considerably since Killzone 2. The controls still don’t stand up to something like Call of Duty or Halo, but as shooters go, this is still up there at the top. There is also the ability to use Playstation Move if you have the capabilities to do so, which is a welcome addition to those who have Move, despite not being as accurate or fast paced as a DualShock pad. The cover mechanics are also back in full force, with some slick animations into and out of cover simply reinforcing the visual experience. There were some notable problems in which I got stuck in cover - or could not enter cover - and these were minor frustrations, but overall it’s a great mechanic that works well and ensures you survive through the onslaught of Helghast gunfire.
There are some lengthy vehicular sections also, which are both exhilarating and fun to play through. The vehicles feel as smooth and heavy as the on-foot controls, which is a good and a bad thing. Yet, while retaining the brute force that makes Killzone such a delight, it can also be frustrating when you are being attacked from all sides and simply lack the speed to deal with all your enemies before death. Overall, these sections are perfect to break up the on-foot gameplay to keep the pace from becoming too intense.
Killzone 3 also features a co-op option, but this is limited to local co-op only, which is a huge disappointment for those who were expecting online co-op. Those who do choose to play local co-op will probably be met with some of the same issues I had, including some frame rate problems and visual hitches.
Even after the single player experience is over, however, you have much more to do in Killzone 3. The multiplayer is as strong if not stronger than it was in Killzone 2; and there is still the point-earning system which you use to purchase unlocks as you progress through the game, but this feature has seen some minor tweaks since Killzone 2.
The maps are fantastic in every sense, being both well thought out and varied. Warzone is still the highlight of the multiplayer modes, combining various classics such as deathmatch and objective based modes into one continuous package. There is also Guerrilla Warfare which acts as the game's Team Deathmatch mode, if you feel like simply shooting some people up in competitive MP. Furthermore, Killzone 3 welcomes Operations, a new game type in which two opposing forces fight it out for various points on the map. While Operations acts as a nice break to Killzone's traditional deathmatch scenario, it is unlikely to become your main supplement of multiplayer game time. Lastly, there is “Botzone”, a game mode in which you can choose various maps from the multiplayer and customise them; before then taking the fight to numerous bots of varying difficulties within them. While this component is probably the weakest aspect of the Killzone 3 package, it’s still another reason to carry on playing.
Killzone 3 is a spectacular shooter which pushes the boundaries of what players expect in terms of visual presentation and polish. The single player lacks a great storyline, but it has no shortage of intense action and enjoyable set pieces which continue to astonish you in every which way possible. The multiplayer, while not as varied as its contemparies like Call of Duty or Halo, still offers powerful combat in a variety of excellent maps and is sure to keep you coming back for more. If you liked Killzone 2, you will love Killzone 3, but if you haven’t experienced its predecessor, you will undoubtedly find something to enjoy if you’re a fan of first person shooters - whether offline or on.
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