Killzone 3 review.
Two years ago, Guerilla Games set the bar ridiculously high for PS3 development. After years of anticipation, and most importantly extreme skepticism, Killzone 2 landed on store shelves and the rubber hit the road. Skeptics were proven (mostly) wrong, as KZ2 was the best looking PS3 game back then and still remains one of the best looking games of this generation. The gameplay, however, needed refining. The single player campaign was frustrating at times, the multiplayer unbalanced and flawed, and the controls floaty and unresponsive. But now, that all changes.
Two years since then Guerilla have improved on almost all of the problems of KZ2. The story begins immediately after the end of Killzone 2, and after killing Visari, Sev and Rico are desperate to escape Helghan. Along with the remainder of ISA forces on the planet, they improvise an evacuation plan, with moderate success in the beginning. Killzone 3's story isn't really impressive, but it's not less than you expect from an FPS anyway. You could argue that Killzone, as more of a lore dependent franchise would require a bit more work in terms of the fiction and better writing- and that's a totally valid point. The characters established in KZ3 aren't particularly interesting, nor did the developers even try to create memorable persona's that you would care about. Furthermore, some of the more likable characters from KZ2 like Natko don't appear in KZ3's story at all. Seriously, what was the point of even introducing him to the series then? They don't even explain what happened to him, why he's not with the rest of his squad and evacuating with ISA. The weirdest thing though is that Natko does actually appear in the split screen only co-op campaign, as the second player. And that's it. Quite enigmatic and disappointing.
The campaign offers way more variety than that of KZ2. Aside from the standard run around-take cover-shoot dudes sections, there's a lot of rail shooting segments. I suspect this to be a remainder of some sort of Move integration thought of early on. Some levels have a gimmick associated with them, and boredom is never the problem. However, some moments can be frustrating. Really frustrating. GG still hasn't learned from KZ2 and they still insisted on making a seemingly "challenging" shooter, resulting in a really cheap experience at some times. You'll run into situations where you're required to push forward and run past a certain point of the map, when there's enemies everywhere and you're health is so low you'd die in a few seconds. There's only a few spots like this, though, and the nice part about the single player is the ability to carry 3 weapons- 1 rifle, 1 heavy weapon, and 1 pistol. Every level typically gives you a new heavy toy to play with, and there's some really fun guns to shoot. The boltgun and LMG's return from Killzone 2, the grenade launcher and arc rifle do not. A real shame. You do get a few new ones to compensate, though. Brutal melee's are another of the new features, and provide a cool, gruesome way of killing your enemies.
Where KZ3 really shines is it's multiplayer. Guerilla redesigned a major portion of the classes and mechanics, and it's a much better, balanced game. There are 3 modes available- Guerilla Warfare, which is basically team deathmatch; Warzone, which is an objective based Battlefield-like experience that constantly changes game modes and objectives in the middle of the match; and Operations, which is an attack and defend mode similar to Bad Company 2's rush mode. There are 8 maps on the disc, only 2 of them playable in all 3 modes, and 2 DLC maps available for purchase (you get them for free if you preordered). The MP mode is class based, similar to Bad Company 2. Contrary to KZ2, you can play as every class from the get go- there's no need to unlock extra badges to take on different roles. The classes are quite well balanced, with the underpowered and almost pointless medic and the overpowered single kill sniper rifle being the biggest issues. What's important is that every class is offensive, just in different ways- unlike TF2, where for example the medic isn't very capable in a gunfight, and very similar to BC2, where even the medic wields a powerful LMG.. Each class has different secondary abilities associated with them, and using every classes traits as a team is key to succeeding. The maps are generally well thought out and hit all of Killzone 3's aesthetics, corresponding to different environments from the campaign. There is no more of KZ2's spawn camping, since spawn grenades have been replaced with fixed "tactical spawn areas", which only tacticians can capture.
It's important to note that the controls have been adjusted and now are very responsive and sharp, while still retaining that heavy feel (similar to Battlefield games on consoles). KZ3 is Sony's current benchmark, as it supports Move in both SP and MP, as well as stereoscopic 3D. The coop campaign is local only (which is a real shame) and you can't play with Move in coop. You can, however, play the campaign with both 3d and Move at the same time.
KZ3 is a massive step forward in terms of accessibility and playability, but it still needs some tweaking, especially in the singleplayer aspect. But it's still a great shooter, especially if you get into the online portion of the game. The campaign will give you a 6-8 hours of fun, as well as a bunch of trophies to go back and unlock. Certainly one of Sony's heavier hitters for this year, and that's saying a lot.