Giant Bomb Review

124 Comments

Killzone 3 Review

4
  • PS3

Killzone 3 delivers an experience that's a little too similar to its predecessor in spots, but it still has plenty explosive moments to see both online and off.


 You'll spend a bit of time manning turrets or driving vehicles in the campaign.
Killzone 3 picks up right where Killzone 2 left off in more ways than one. The campaign is a direct continuation of the previous game, picking up mere moments after you received a new reason to want to put a bullet in Rico's head. The design and structure of the game, also, feels like they're resuming where the last game left off. If you didn't play Killzone 2 after the "high precision" option was patched in, Killzone 3 will feel dramatically different, like a much faster game. If you kept current with the patches, it'll feel largely identical, with some of the same issues found in Killzone 2 sticking out more here if only because of their age. The major improvement is a bump up in graphical quality. When you consider how nice Killzone 2 looked when it launched two years ago, that's a substantial benefit.

After some quick tutorializing, the game drops you back into the boots of Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko of the ISA. You've just witnessed the death of the Helghast leader and it's time to get the heck out of there. But the evacuation process goes completely sideways and Sev, Rico, and a group of other ISA soldiers are stranded. The bulk of Killzone 3 deals with the marooned troops biding their time and waiting for the right time to pick up the fight and escape the enemy's planet. Most of the actions you take are very standard first-person-shooter goals. You'll attempt to secure a convoy, you'll take to high ground to defend ground-based troops with a sniper rifle, you'll destroy enemy installations, and so on. And, for the most part, it's fine, if a bit rote. The game's pacing is very stuttery as the game jumps from action to cutscene to action a little too often, and occasionally the story doesn't slow down to explain itself, like one portion of the game where you go from an on-foot cutscene to suddenly manning the turret in a vehicle that seems like it just kind of came out of nowhere. The game has a few of these turret sequences, and some of the game's biggest climactic moments are, unfortunately, seen from behind the controls of a mounted weapon. Add to that a real punch-out kind of "big explosion followed immediately by end credits" ending and it's easy to find disappointment in the campaign.

That's not to say that the action is bad. The battlefields that you'll cross while playing through the campaign look great, and the enemies are usually reasonably fun to kill. The weapon loadout has changed a bit this time around, allowing you to carry a heavy weapon while still carrying an assault rifle or shotgun, making heavy weapons more useful. So you'll grab light machine guns, snap turrets off of their mounts, and find rocket launchers, boltguns, and other military hardware that helps keep the combat exciting. It's just annoying that Killzone 3's campaign doesn't seem to care about continuity or finding interesting ways to tell its story. One of the coolest moments--the game opens with you controlling a man in Helghast armor and ends with a climactic moment before giving you a "six months earlier" cut back to where the story actually begins--is undercut when you revisit that same moment later on in the story and it unfolds completely differently than it did when you were there the first time. With the developers not bothering to care enough about their fiction to create what could have been a cool moment the second time around, it instead comes off as if a few people working on the levels didn't communicate well enough to synch up the action.

 You'll still want to shoot them in the head, if you can.
As in Killzone 2, you'll usually roll with an AI-controlled partner or two, and if you or one of your teammates goes down in battle, you can revive each other. There are still too many cases in Killzone 3 where you seem to have been brought down in a clear area that wouldn't take Rico long to get into and heal you, but instead he just screams "I can't reach you!" and you're left to die and return to the last checkpoint. It's a sound idea that still ends up causing more frustration than it avoids. The game offers a cooperative campaign, which mitigates this specific issue, but it's only available in an offline, split-screen form, which is a little ridiculous in this day and age.

And then there's the multiplayer. It's real, proper multiplayer for up to 24 players online, though you can also play all of the modes and maps with bots by yourself, if you like. The "botzone" is also useful because it lets you see and try all of the various gear that you can unlock for the different classes in Killzone 3. Since you'll earn one unlock point for each level of experience gained when playing online, and later weapons cost three points to open up, it's worth spending some time with the bots first, if only to avoid a situation where you're unlocking weapons you won't actually like. That third medic weapon, which is silenced and shoots three-shot bursts, isn't for everyone. Those are points that you could also spend to allow your engineer class to build turrets more quickly or increase the effective range of the infiltrator's disguise ability. Point being, the classes give you a range of different ways to play the game that should fit a variety of play styles. Classes are a little less configurable than they've been in the past, though, as the unlocks are limited to the class they were designed for. You can't mix-and-match badges to form a class that can revive players and rebuild supply points, for example. In-game actions can reward you with ribbons that give you a bonus for the rest of that match, so you can unlock faster aim abilities or double XP on kills by performing specific tasks. The effect is similar to the Call of Duty perk system, but they're completely temporary and usually doled out for good behavior, like completing objectives in a team match or getting a lot of assists.

Killzone 3 gets down to business with three multiplayer modes. Guerilla Warfare is the game's way of saying "Team Deathmatch." Warzone, which rolls a lot of standard objective-based modes into one big game that randomly rotates through objectives every five minutes or so, is still the coolest mode in the game, and it's a great way to keep players on their toes. Operations mode is an attack-and-defend mode where one team is trying to complete various objectives while the other is always on defense. As the objectives are met or failed, cutscenes are played showing the players on both teams engaged in moving a crane or executing prisoners or whatever that specific objective was tied to in the "story" of that match. Those cutscenes make it cooler than the average assault-style mode, but since one team is always attacking and the other is always defending, it doesn't keep players on their toes quite as much as Warzone does.

And here are some more shots of the Helghast looking menacing. 
The multiplayer in Killzone 3 is less configurable than it was in the previous game. For players who set up Killzone 2 Warzone matches and reduced them to one or two specific game types and restricted the use of certain weapons and badges, this will be disappointing. But if you were tired of trying to jump into a game and having to sift through a list of servers before finding one that was actually playing Warzone "properly," you'll be pleased to know that you can't turn anything off. In fact, you can't even "create" a match at all anymore. The only options are the game modes, and once you're in there, the only option is "find match." Once you're in the game, you'll find that the squad concepts used in Killzone 2 are gone. There are still "squads" in the game, but these are temporary groups of up to eight players that exist outside of the action, sort of like Halo's party system. This means that you can't fill a whole match with your friends, as there's no private match option. This seems like something of an oversight.

But the main action is still just as satisfying as it was last time around, with a few new situations to deal with. Some maps contain jet packs, which you can use to boost up into the air and float slowly back down to the ground. Jet packs are also outfitted with heavy machine guns with infinite ammo, making them effective if you want to just turn yourself into a mobile turret. Some maps also contain mechs, which players can get in and pilot. As you might expect, the mechs are a little bulky, but they dish out a ton of damage and can withstand a lot, as well. Both of these things turn up in the single-player campaign for a bit, but are more interesting in multiplayer situations.

The game looks great, with tons of action going on in the backgrounds and skies above you as you make your way through the game. The multiplayer maps also look great, with some locations coming from portions of the campaign. The "British Space Nazi" motif of the Helghast continues unabated with lots of insidious-sounding characters, not the least of which is Jorhan Stahl, one of the bad guys in the campaign. He's voiced by Malcolm McDowell, who does a really great job. The ISA side of things has some good voice work, too, including James Remar as Captain Narville and Andrew Bowen as Sevchenko.

 Stahl's as evil as it gets. You should probably make sure he's dead, if you can.
Killzone 3 also stands out as one of the first PlayStation 3 games to support both the PlayStation Move and 3D televisions. Both are, of course, totally optional, and I've found that neither really adds that much to the game. The game replicates a lot of the aim-and-shoot functionality of the right side of the DualShock 3 with a Move wand, requiring you to hold the left half of a regular controller or use the Navigation Controller to move around. Some snappier lock-on targeting makes the game easier to play with a Move, but I found myself longing for the standard controller, which works great, by the way. While I'm sure someone will come along and prove me wrong someday, it's hard to imagine players with Move controllers competing against people with standard gamepads. Or, at least, I got totally slaughtered. I also didn't find myself doing too well in multiplayer mode when 3D was turned on, either. Like other 3D games, I found it difficult to focus on any one thing, making it hard to line up targets or make out some of the UI elements. The game also got darker and the text got significantly blurrier when playing in 3D, and I had a lot of problems with the 3D simply ceasing to function, causing me to see double for long stretches of time. I'm tempted to blame this on my specific setup, but it's probably worth noting that I haven't had that problem with any of the other 3D content I've viewed on this equipment. It's neat when it works, but it feels like a novelty... a novelty that left me feeling pretty queasy after 20 minutes of use. As is the case with all of this stuff, your mileage may vary.

It's great that Killzone 3 supports all of the additional features of the PlayStation 3, though when it comes down to it, I had the most fun with it when I was playing it with a standard controller in two measly dimensions. But a lot of the design is so familiar that it's hard to get as excited for Killzone 3 as you might have last time around. Killzone 2 felt like a landmark event that finally gave the PlayStation 3 a world-class first-person shooter that you couldn't play anywhere else. After two years, Killzone 3 hasn't changed enough to reignite all of those feelings, but it's still a thrilling ride when you're alone and a well-designed multiplayer experience, as well.     Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
124 Comments
  • 124 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Posted by SquirrelGOD

Hmm...may have to pick this one up.

Posted by TehFlan

British Space Nazis.

Posted by TheYear20XX

It's not the danger zone, but it'll do.

Posted by ReyGitano

I'm a wizard. In other news, I won't be seeing my friend for about a week since he'll be playing Killzone 3.

Posted by Scrumdidlyumptious

Waiting for my pre-order to arrive. Gah! Still 2 days left.

Posted by MooseyMcMan

Great review Jeff! I'm still probably going to wait on this one though. 

Moderator
Posted by Akeldama

Based on Ryan and Jeff's attitudes toward the game in all the quick looks, I am rather surprised by the score. However, the review seems just.

Posted by Jayross

Multiplayer looks awesome!

Posted by Zamir
Posted by Cramsy

Nice review Jeff. I'm waiting for something fresh to spend my FPS money on this year. Brink looks like it's a little different, hopefully its not a total train wreck.  
 
Also, do the assassination animations drive anyone else insane in multiplayer? it just turns into this conga line of people waiting to get stabbed in the eyes

Posted by protomessiah

sounds good to me, I will pick it up friday.

Edited by paulunga

So... would it have gotten that fifth star if it was, in fact, more "moe".  
 

@Cramsy

said:

" Nice review Jeff. I'm waiting for something fresh to spend my FPS money on this year. Brink looks like it's a little different, hopefully its not a total train wreck.   Also, do the assassination animations drive anyone else insane in multiplayer? it just turns into this conga line of people waiting to get stabbed in the eyes "

And yeah, you'd figure they learned at least THAT lesson from the last AvP.
Posted by Simplexity

Atleast it doesn't try to desperately copy Call of Duty like every other FPS since 07.
 
That's gotta count for something right?

Posted by supercubedude

I love this review because it lets me know they didn't improve in exactly the one area I wanted them to: the story.

Online
Posted by Krakn3Dfx

Good review, I think it probably deserves that extra star just for the massive improvement in controls over KZ2, but 4/5 is still good stuff.  My copy is coming tomorrow from Amazon, can't wait.

Posted by Afroman269

Woo, my imcallingit prediction is right. Can't wait to get this, I'll see you all in some TNT.

Posted by RobotHamster

Can't wait for my copy to come in tomorrow!!!  

Posted by Curufinwe

I'm sure there are people who will be great at multiplayer with the Move.  Not many, but some.

Posted by Jayross

It's a shame about the reduced ability to customize your servers... that really sucks, actually.

Posted by Slaker117

Called it. +148,388 quest xp. :D

Posted by iconclastman

 http://www.killzone.com/kz3/en_GB/blog/news/2011-02-17_end-of-open-beta.html Custom matches will be patched in

Posted by rcath

wonder if this will dethrone COD?

Posted by xXwindoverXx

Great review! 
 
Sucks that everybody is saying the story is meh...was hoping that they would finally pull it together with this one

Posted by SparkEngineer

Pretty good review. If only it was Call of Duty: Killzone 3, then it would of been an automatic 5. That being said, really  well written review, just wish the same penalties were given to the CoD series as well.

Posted by Animasta
@SRanker said:
" Pretty good review. If only it was Call of Duty: Killzone 3, then it would of been an automatic 5. That being said, really  well written review, just wish the same penalties were given to the CoD series as well. "
call of duty: black ops was given 4 stars as well, I'll remind you
Online
Posted by yhordi

" The game offers a cooperative campaign, which mitigates this specific issue, but it's only available in an offline, split-screen form, which is a little ridiculous in this day and age." 
 
Ridiculous because it's the only option?

Posted by waypoetic

Reviewers say this and NeoGaf says that. I don't think Jeff's a Killzone fan, he's more of a COD dude.

Posted by switters

Great review Jeff, thanks for getting it on the website today.  I'm excited to play tomorrow after work.  I really enjoyed the beta and the demo so I can't wait for tomorrow. To bad I have to work most of the day, grrrrrr....work. 
  
Jeff, I hope this will be the game played for TNT this week.  If it is I'm down to play. 

Posted by DystopiaX
@waypoetic said:
" Reviewers say this and NeoGaf says that. I don't think Jeff's a Killzone fan, he's more of a COD dude. "
Blops got the same score. I don't understand how you can say this when his review was almost completely positive, the only thing he was totally negative on was the 3d and Move support, which he said was cool-ish but needed work. He also said not much was new, so that's why it doesn't get a 5- it doesn't innovate.  
Saying it deserves a 5 is fine, but saying that it's only because it's not one of his "favorite" franchises is dumb- especially when the franchise you point to got the same score.
Posted by His_lane

Why do they keep getting different voice actors? That shit is always disconcerting to me.

Posted by switters

Anyone else wonder why there has been no reviews for Bulletstorm?Hmmmmmmmmmmmm......

Posted by belaraphon

4 stars is still good people. while i agree that call of duty games may not deserve 5, there is little doubt in my mind that i like this game.

Posted by RE_Player1

Called it :)

Posted by Dezinus

Oh good, we're still doing turret sequences in 2011. Thanks guys.

Posted by Raven_Sword

Seems like a good game. Cant wait to get it tomorrow.
Posted by Cazamalos

nice!

Posted by Boiglenoight
@Curufinwe said:
" I'm sure there are people who will be great at multiplayer with the Move.  Not many, but some. "
Takes a few hours to get used to.  Play long enough, and you can't go back to a gamepad.  
Posted by Enigma777

Good review. Can't wait to get my hands on it tomorrow! Also we've organized a GB KZ3 clan, so if any of you guys are interested, swing by the KZ3 forums and give it a gander. 

Posted by ThePhantomnaut

DAMN I WANT A PS3!

Posted by bybeach

This review has the ring of truth to me. Of course I have seen the other reviews out there, so this isn't so prescient on my part. 
 
As for the comparison game to COD..I really do not think Mr. Gerstmann  falls down that way, But there is one thing said by at least one poster I do have sympathy for, if this is in the tradition  ofKZ2  then at least they do not try to be a COD clone.     And yes he gave the same score to Black ops, though I suspect many are thinking of Modern Warfare 2 for the  rub they are looking for. 
 
I dunno, to me his review is solid, besides informative and well written. Damn,I wish so much they had gotten the story element right, they certainly spent money and went out and acquired  excellent voice actors. They had it in mind, and yes, a cohesive story is conductive for a good action game,..if you are going to make the attempt at all. I'm a bit forgiving though, because it sounds like they really tried. 
 
KZ 3 coming to me tomorrow! (though I'm still screwing around with my buddies the necromorphs).
Posted by Brackynews
@rcath said:
" wonder if this will dethrone COD? "
It's a PS3 exclusive. So helgh no. :)
Posted by ThaMilkMan

I honestly wonder how hard it is to put in online co-op if you already have splitscreen co-op...this is 2011 yall, whats the deal?

Posted by Gunharp

I can only see myself really wanting to use the move controllers for the turret sequences. However it is nice to see that in Jeff's review, the 3D and Move controllers are not total garbage. Especially after reading about how they accomplished the control scheme, I wanted to read more reviews closer to the launch date of this game.  
 
@iconclastman said:

"  http://www.killzone.com/kz3/en_GB/blog/news/2011-02-17_end-of-open-beta.html Custom matches will be patched in "
Awesome! 
 
I can't wait to pick up the ridiculous helghast edition tomorrow. I have not bought a special/collectors edition of this size since BioShock. 
Posted by MildMolasses
@Akeldama said:
"Based on Ryan and Jeff's attitudes toward the game in all the quick looks, I am rather surprised by the score. However, the review seems just. "
 
You mean how positive they were, especially Jeff towards the campaign? He mentioned (on TNT last week I believe) that he got less impressed with the campaign as it wore on, so this doesn't seem so surprising
 
I'm still on the fence. I tried the demo and liked the control a lot better than K2, but I'm still not a fan of their layout. And although it looks phenomenal, I don't know if thats enough to get me to play it.
Edited by Donos

Just so everyone doesn't panic, the Guerilla has said they will be patching in custom game support. Also, set your controls to Alternative if you want to enjoy this game.
 
To the review... yeah that all sounds about right.

Posted by the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG

thats a good review.  but im kinda bummed about the fact that the squad system changed

Posted by MST3k_Crow

My copy just shipped out so I will be enjoying this game soon. Looks like a solid overall game.

Posted by Lingxor

"One of the coolest moments--the game opens with you controlling a man in Helghast armor and ends with a climactic moment before giving you a "six months earlier" cut back to where the story actually begins--is undercut when you revisit that same moment later on in the story and it unfolds completely differently than it did when you were there the first time." 
 
That shit is weak.     

Posted by Boiglenoight
@the_OFFICIAL_jAPanese_teaBAG said:
" thats a good review.  but im kinda bummed about the fact that the squad system changed "
Same.  I liked spawning on my teammates in KZ2, similar to Bad Company 2 as well.  Still, after playing the beta for a good long while, it's something that you tend to forget about.
Posted by LiquidPrince

I would have expected a five star game, after how excited Jeff sounded during the quick look.

  • 124 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3