Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Game Review – Killzone 3

Format: PS3

Killzone 3 is a dramatic and inspiring first-person shooter in more ways than one. Guerilla Studios once again intertwine superb combat, beautiful graphics and memorable set pieces to bring together one of the best games Sony could have hoped to open 2011 with. Enhancing upon Killzone 2 in almost every way, which may I add is no easy to task, Killzone 3 brings more to the table in terms of action; you will come out of the experience in awe at the brilliant pace the campaign offers and the near perfect online multiplayer present. Unfortunately Killzone 3 does not maintain this exceptional level of quality on all fronts, especially when it comes to narration and story. The tale of the war between our two factions is dull and uninspiring, especially the Helghast segments that simply play upon Nazi stereotypes and other commonly used frameworks that we have seen a hundred times before. The main character Sev, who is stuck on an enemy planet with his squad, is not explored or deepened in any way shape or form. The result is an emotionless and non-involving battle for survival and a hilarious Nazi parody, making the exceptional campaign game-play, diluted with poor story segments. That aside, Killzone 3 is brilliant; it is the most realistic FPS on the market, which says something considering it is a Sci-Fi shooter.

Killzone 3 continues upon the politically driven war between the Helghast and the ISA but for some strange reason, concentrates a large chunk of the story inside the war rooms and tactical meetings of the Helghast generals. All too often you find the well paced combat stopped right in its tracks by story segments that you simply don’t want to watch and this is a real shame for Killzone 3. The case is less so for the ISA portion of the campaign and Sev, but the complete lack of emotional connection between you and your soldiers means that even this portion of the story is difficult to get really involved in, making the skip button almost as important as the shoot button in Killzone 3.

This problem is rather more problematic for an FPS like Killzone 3 than say for example Call of Duty, because we expect the COD campaigns to be rubbish and if they are pleasantly entertaining, we are happily surprised. Killzone 2 developed such a brilliant story that with the arrival of its successor, everyone hoped for another dynamic, interactive and engulfing campaign mode and not just another dry first-person shooter with absolutely no story and full emphasis on multiplayer. Now that this is out the window, we have to contrast Killzone 3 on the same level as Call of Duty, which ironically makes my job easier in comparing the two.

So luckily for us gun fanatics, you do not need narration and story to have an absolutely killer time throughout Killzone 3’s campaign mode. The physics first of all, continue to gob smack, even though I saw the unprecedented realism of character movement and weapon fire in the predecessor, it returns once again to show off this incredible technical design. Your character feels real, the way he moves, runs, jumps, reloads, shoots, whatever the case you, feel like you are looking through the eyes of a human being, not simply a camera with arms. This is where you get emotionally invested in your character, in the heat of battle when bullets are flying and grenades are exploding, you fear for his survival because you feel like you are part of it, a simply incredible state of emotion created by Killzone 3.

Larger than life set-piece battles are what ultimately define the campaign mode here. Killzone 3 offers varied environments including industrial terrains, wintry mountains, jungles and devoured cities, all of which look gorgeous. In these locations you will find epic encounters including mech chases, jet pack battles and highway revolts, all of which are a heck of a lot of fun. It is these moments that will reside with you upon completing Killzone 3 and you will soon forget the shortcomings in story and narration as the real important action is told in bullets and Helghan bodies, not words. If you have access to a 3D TV then you can actually take the game to a stereoscopic level, adding an extra dimension to Killzone 3’s mesmerizing visuals, it is definitely worth the experience. You can also play the game using the Playstation Move, although not offering anything particularly game changing, if you fancy a different way to kill the Helghast, then give it a go, the clever auto-lock system makes using these remotes relatively easy.

Another important achievement that Killzone 3 continues is the wonderful AI that fills the game. Rarely do you find an experience as challenging against the computer, but here soldiers’ aim is deadly, their movements are precise and tactical and they want to spill your blood; taking them lightly is certainly not an option. Even your teammates show signs of actual combat intelligence, working together and holding down waves of enemies while you try to complete an objective or flank the opposition. To keep it from being totally computer driven you can bring a friend into the action with offline co-op but the lack of an online version of this mode is really quite outrageous.

The only way you are going to play online with a buddy is through Killzone 3’s brilliantly crafted competitive multiplayer. Killzone 2 was an impressive online shooter so massive changes to game-play have not occurred and why should they considering how good the predecessor was? Changes have come in various places including the removal of class progression so you unlock weapons and gear for your player in general as opposed to keeping them class specific. You still have to choose a class to play with and these variations offer some entertaining changes to the combat, being an engineer, or an infiltrator for example, offer a whole new perspective on the battlefield than a simple brute force. There is an addition of two new game-modes that offer team death match and objective based game-play including some of the most impressively designed maps any shooting game has had the pleasure having in its ranks. Warzone is still obviously the preferred way to tackle Killzone 3’s online experience, offering multiple objective based missions in one game, keeping action intense, engaging and varied. The online modes are all fluid, well paced and incredibly entertaining. The feeling of realism your characters portray give it an edge over your monotonous Call of Duty experience and it really is a great divergence from the former if you are tired of calling in Spy Planes and Napalm Strikes. My only wish is more people jump on the online mode to give Guerilla Studios more incentive to bring out packs and updates, keeping this experience alive and progressing.

And why shouldn’t you jump into the intense multiplayer combat? Not only are the game-modes terrific but they are also accompanied by the inclusion of the campaign’s jetpacks, which allow you to fly around certain battlefields with chain-guns attached to your back, raining hell upon your enemies. Some maps even include mech units that can cause serious problems for enemy teams who don’t have artillery to deal with these mechanized giants. Killzone 3 screams action and the online mode is a great place to take part in the experience.

Ultimately Killzone 3 is a fantastic game. It is one of the most beautiful games on the PS3, it is engaging, it is entertaining and it is thrilling. Fast paced and consistently brilliant action segments keep you on your toes and wanting more. The online is as great as ever; perhaps lacking from any truly innovative changes, but regardless the same brilliant experience is back for more. The unfortunate misjudgment with regards to the campaign’s story structure is a right shame, but it doesn’t detract from the game’s brilliant technical design and game-play prowess. I recommend this game all over and it would be a joy to see more gamers picking up a copy of Killzone 3, a true technical masterpiece, than Call of Duty: Black Ops, a lackluster rehash of the same formula. It may not be a massive step forward for the series, but Killzone 3 offers everything you would expect in a sequel to an already brilliant experience.

Technical presentation – 8.0

Graphics – 9.5

Game-play – 9.0

Replay value – 8.0

Final score – 9 / 10

Igor, CeX UK Contributor.

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