The British Space Nazis are coming! But don’t worry, Sev and Rico are on hand to quell their invasion by ignoring orders, shooting a lot and using a variety of vehicles to well shoot a lot more. It may aspire to be like a gritty war movie but it actually shares more in common with a classic buddy flick. Sev and Rico are like a videogame equivalent of Tango & Cash, Riggs & Murtaugh or even Neal & Del from Planes, Trains & Automobiles as they journey across Helghan via, Tanks, Exoskeletons, Infiltrators and whatever else they can get their hands on. Heck they even scream in unison whenever they crash each said vehicle… which is pretty much every time they get in one. I kept expecting one of them to quip “I’m getting too old for this sh*t”! Thankfully they are not but is Killzone 3 in the zone or a helghastly abomination of a videogame that ought to be killed?
The action takes place directly were Killzone 2 left off, in fact it overlaps featuring Visari’s death allowing you to jump straight back into the action. Playing as Sev you are charged with helping the ISA to defeat the Helghans who are bitterly fighting between themselves to find a new leader after the fall of Visari. You see more than just ruined urban environments this time as you travel across Helghan visiting more of the planet than previously known with an Arctic base, Jungles to explore as well as outer space. The Helghast do make for more interesting characters than the ISA who just come off as one dimensional, bland macho Americans. Especially Rico who is quite possibly the 2nd worst character in a PS exclusive after Zeke from inFamous with his constant aggro and shouting. Every mission pretty much starts with either Sev or Rico not following orders and then being called a “son of a bitch” apparently in the future following orders doesn’t seem necessary. Fortunately Ray Winstone and Malcolm McDowell are a masterstroke in videogame casting as two warring Helghast leaders constantly usurping each other like a series of 24, it makes me wish the ISG had as many memorable characters or that the next Killzone has us fill the chunky boots of a Helghan after the brief tease of what it would be like in the first level.
The campaign is short (around 5-6 hours) and features a lot of cut scenes, at times they suffer from the worst crime in gaming and feature action that you wish you could be playing. They do provide epic scenes of destruction and really allow the graphics engine to shine and boy do they shine. The smoke/dust, explosions and lighting effects are the best around, its a gorgeous game which will constantly make you sit back with wonder. The only technological defects that I noticed was the occasional pop up of scenery during a scene load, the odd loading stutter and some sound effects that seemed off in cutscenes. These could well be cleared up in a retail version but I felt they should still be mentioned. Its worth bearing in mind that with no install and no loading times apart from the initial startup shows how good a job Guerrilla has done showing how powerful the PS3 can be and with Move and 3D support; Killzone 3 is a pioneer in the technical specter.
The main complaint from Killzone 2’s gameplay was that it felt too sluggish and heavy, I personally liked its different style from say Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament and Resistance as it made it feel completely unique from other titles. The cover based gameplay is still prominent and remains consistent throughout but the use of grass that makes you invisible during the jungle section feels a bit wrong considering how thin it is. The weightiness remains in Killzone 3 much to my satisfaction but the controller lag is now gone, it is more responsive but you still feel like you’re picking up a meaty weapon and boy are those weapons meaty. You can now carry 3 weapons at once with you always carrying a pistol and medium weapons (assault rifle/shotgun) and then a heavy weapon such as the Boltgun and Rocket Launcher. The arsenal is familiar with new additions such as the turret Miniguns and W.A.S.P. Launcher (Wicked Awesome Shooty Power?) that you can pick up and carry with you, these really do dish out the punishment but naturally make you slower to move. The new brutal melee kills offer a more cinematic alternative to melee kills but sometimes feel a bit unnecessary, convoluted and leave you open to attack, something AVP suffered from quite badly in the online battlefield.
As mentioned earlier vehicles play a big part in Killzone 3 but the on rails shooter sections can feel a little forced and shoehorned in to create levels where the Move can become an advantage. That being said the jet pack does create a new facet of play in its short appearance, rather than allowing you to fly freely it its more of a jump enhancement allowing you to bound across ice bergs and glide to safety. The jet pack is only used for a short brief time however but it is available in multiplayer should you wish to rain death from above on your friends. Killzone 3 is the first hardcore FPS to support the Move and 3D, unfortunately I do not have the means to test out 3D as I don’t own a 3DTV (Tosh hasn’t provided me with one. Hint. Hint). However I am able to tell you how well the Move has been implemented into Killzone 3, and the answer is very well. Whilst not quite allowing you to use it as a mouse (probably to keep online play fair or to stop motion sickness) it still allows you to aim quickly across the screen. The major problem though is that turning takes a hit making it difficult to circle strafe and move around at speed with precision so it’s a trade off. You’ll have to ask yourself whether moving quickly or aiming more accurately is what you need more. Unfortunately the Dual Shock 3 is hard to hold in one hand, i tried to rest it against my leg but i kept hitting grenade or dropping it whilst trying to stab and perform other quick actions. With the Navigation controller though the experience is fantastic and I can imagine the sharpshooter attachment helps even further to improve the Move experience. Move does then work in the FPS console world but I wouldn’t quite call it a joypad beater, more an alternative that might prove the more appealing to the die hard PC crowd and others that were never satisfied with the dual stick setup.
Co-op is present after taking an absence in 2, it’s split-screen and two player only but it works well. Surprisingly player 2 does not control Rico (who Sev spends most of the game with) instead he’s paired up with Natko from K2, he would otherwise he would be completely MIA if it wasn’t for this inclusion. Thankfully he doesn’t speak, probably Guerrilla’s way of toning down all the swearing! Apart from minor continuity issues the co-op works great with no noticeable frame rate problems or drops in graphical quality. The campaign is exactly the same as single player and the same trophies can be earned making some of the trickier ones a tad easier. Whilst the campaign is the same don’t expect to select your favorite levels you just played in single player straight away, you’re going to need to progress through co-op again to get to them. A shame the co-op doesn’t feature online play but having the split-screen function is definitely better than nothing, especially when it works this well. At the time of review the multiplayer servers are offline so I am unable to comment on the online experience but suffice to say I’d expect it to be similar to the recent beta, feel free to check out the recent opinion pieces of the beta that are featured on PS3Blog.net. I did however try out all modes and classes with Botzone and Killzone 3 looks to be another hugely enjoyable online shooter with Warzone and its ever changing objectives still present. Exoskeletons have been added to online play as well as a new unlock system where you can choose what you unlock despite what class you’re playing as. Its weightier feel means Killzone still stands out from the crowd of online shooters and its varying game types really help spice up matches to stop them from becoming monotonous. I would expect Killzone 3 to have the same dedicated online community that 2 benefitted from.
Killzone 3 is another solid outing for the series on the PS3, landing your shots is incredibly satisfying and makes just makes you want to squeeze the trigger more, Rambo style, you can’t help but let out a roar when your mowing down scores of Helghast troops. Despite the hammy script Sev and Rico do manage to make an enjoyable action romp that is often spectacular and always gorgeous yet remains consistent and feels like a Killzone title. Despite shortcomings in the story Killzone 3 is still an epic game that any PS3 owner with the slightest of interest in shooters should play, the inclusion of co-op, move and 3D is quite remarkable considering how many boundaries it pushes with the 2D single player alone. Killzone 3 ISA great title worth Seving all your money for, if you hadn’t already you should Riconsider.
* A copy of Killzone 3 was provided to PS3Blog.net by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for reviewing purposes. The story mode was played to completion on normal in Single player with Dual Shock 3 and Move controllers and in Co-op. All multiplayer maps and character types were played in Botzone, the Online servers were not online at time of writing.