Killzone 3


Written by Chris Price
28 Monday 28th February 2011

It’s a marvel of technology – incredible structured levels of ice, water, alien flora and fauna and tyrannical fortresses. The huge depth of field of each level is accentuated with some fantastic (if uneven) 3D TV support. Plus there's utilisation of Playstation’s Move motion control for added waggle-action (alas, I was unable to test this out - reports are solid, if a bit fiddly). The sound production from the Michael Kamen-esque orchestral overtures, to the familiar tones of Malcolm MacDowell and Ray Winston really brings the story of retribution and the struggle for power home. And the guns? Christ, are the guns loud. I don’t think I've ever heard fiery bulleted death sound so fearsome.

The franchise's key currency is the Helghast - a kind of interstellar Cockney Third Reich who may quite possibly be the sneakiest enemies in FPS history. Not only do they all look fantastic (snow suited grunts, lithe capped assassins, hooded snipers) but each solider has exemplary reactive AI, concentrating their focus on the biggest threat (normally the player). They will actively seek cover when pinned down, blind fire, cover flanking comrades and use grenades to force you out into the open. The open battlefields provide ample space for the enemy to shine, pinning you down and requiring a precise aim to move forward. It’s tense stuff and you’ll never feel you have the upper hand.

Luckily, you’ve got some back-up. Gruff, gung-ho point-men Sev (Jake Gyllenhaal better be getting likeness royalties on this one) and Rico return from Killzone 2 – key proponents of the war between the Earth-based ISA and the rogue Helghan colony. Units form the basis of Killzone's tactical elements – working in small assault groups with the AI members of your squad actually providing useful assists (eg. covering fire while you reload).

Fighting in close proximity and reviving your downed partner ensures they can return the favour, creating a great revive mechanic that doesn’t break the flow of battle. Even though the game engine is in charge, requiring you to deliver certain triggers (kill a gunner, destroy a jet) to move the level forward, Killzone 3 is probably the most accomplished FPS I’ve experienced that hides it.

The use of the ‘cover button’ latches you onto the nearest wall, allowing you reload, snipe and locate enemies in relative safety until the enemy zeroes in on your position. And the heavily armoured enemy means headshots are the only sure-fire way of dispatching them without emptying an entire clip into each soldier.

It’s refreshing and bold to carve out a unique identity amongst the deluge of shooters on the console market, but Killzone 3 doesn’t quite own its space. It still smacks of being an evolutionary step in many aspects of the game, borrowing too many elements from the mainstream to pad out its own identity. The conscious weighting of your character to evoke the burden of your weaponry all to often proves disabling in the heat of battle, when traditional evasive action is the only way out. The ‘double-tap’ melee – one to disarm, one to execute - all too often ends with your character clipping into the enemy, and being left open to attack. Disorientation on large battlefields due the lack of HUD waypoints is regular, and some of the vehicle levels feel more like playing an interactive movie, than being in control of some smart futuristic tech.

By no means major faults, but enough to chip the lustre of the games rich varnish. Trivial problems, but in the context of such grandiose production, there’s a sense Guerilla have rushed the most basic elements to stand-out from the crowd - the mean result is a stunning, but slightly uninspiring game.

Killzone 3 can hardly be condemned for striving for perfection. It’s lofty ambition is rare even if it isn’t always matched with application. But if you’re looking for something different to the Call of Duties of the world – or looking to show off the capabilities of your shiny Playstation 3, you can’t go far wrong with this.

Killzone 3 is out now exclusively on PS3

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