metalmoog's Killzone 3 (PlayStation 3) review

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Quality FPS but doesn't push the genre forward

Review Originally Published on my website Graveside Entertainment

Developed By: Guerrilla Games

Published By: Sony Computer Entertainment

Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Ray Winstone, Andrew Bowen

Following Emperor Visari’s execution at the hands of ISA lunkhead Rico Velasquez, The Helghast launch a massive military campaign hellbent on the destruction of the ISA. The remains of the ISA forces are spread thin across the treacherous terrain on the Planet Helghan, and are being systematically hunted down by The Helghast. Tensions are running high on both sides of the war. The marooned ISA troops are holding out in different camps across the planet and are being lead by Captain Narville. Narville is carrying out orders from his superiors on the ISA homeworld, Vekta and instructs the ISA soldiers to follow defensive orders and plan a retreat. ISA’s main soldiers Rico and Sev view this as a weak and foolish strategy, and instead encourage Narville to instruct action and force an attack on The Helghast instead of waiting to be picked off like sitting ducks.

Meanwhile The Helghan High Council is also in disarray as Johan Stahl; Helghans leading weapon supplier and owner of Stahl Industries feels Admiral Orlock isn’t doing a very good job leading the Helghan Military on it’s Genocidal quest and makes no bones about expressing his discontent with Orlock’s incompetence. Since the death of Emperor Visari, The Helghast don’t have the solidity and powerful charismatic leader driving them on they once did.

While the Killzone franchise has always been criticized for a weak story, more attention has be placed on Story and Character Development in Killzone 3. Many different Helghast personalities are introduced, and with them; Hollywood voice talent. Guerrilla seem intent on bringing more life and humanity into the series and injecting both sides with more likeable, and memorable qualities. A vast amount of time and resources were spent on developing over an hour of cutscenes for the campaign. Malcolm McDowell and Ray Winstone worked with a top notch motion capture team and have played integral roles in the fleshing out of, and progression of the franchise. I enjoyed both of their characters, and found their constant bickering very entertaining. The Helghast leaders reminded me of an Austin Powers movie this time around: would be evil doers that just can’t manage to succeed and fail with often comical results. Some of Stahl’s outbursts near the end of the campaign made me laugh out loud. I welcomed it and found it to be a nice change of pace from the overly serious and stuffy Killzone 2 campaign. Vast improvements have been made all throughout the game in a mostly positive fashion.

Guerrilla’s Killzone franchise has always been synonymous with amazing visuals and this entry follows suit. Expanding on the visuals and environments from previous games, everything looks amazing, runs smoother and plays better. The level of detail and constant environmental effects and dynamic changes to each level make the world feel alive, and very realistic.  The controls have received a major overhaul also and will make the game far more accessible to all of the CoD players that complained about Killzone 2′s overly weighty and sluggish feeling controls. I enjoyed Killzone 2′s controls but feel that Killzone 3 handles like a much slicker and responsive product.

While the visuals and controls have received a major overall, I feel other aspects of the game fall short of Killzone 2. For starters, though I enjoyed the campaign more in this entry, I couldn’t help but feel the last few levels were tacked on to wrap the game up, and was very disappointed by the final chapter of the campaign. My single player experience started big, kept building through the middle of the game, and then started to decline over the last few levels. I wish Guerrilla had kept the train rolling and focused on building up and up and up instead of dropping the ball near the end. Killzone 2 was a slow starter but finished big with an epic fight in Visari’s palace with Colonel Radec and then Visari’s execution. Killzone 3 sadly did not finish with the same oomph. A lot of negative attention has been directed at the short campaign. I completed it in just over five hours of play time, with the cutscenes extended it to around six hours total. I’m all in favour of a long single player experience, as long as it’s a quality one. Killzone 3′s five hour campaign was packed full of memorable moments and huge set pieces, with only a few duds near the end. I have zero complaints about the length of the campaign, and feel it worked well for the most part due to the quality of the experience as a whole. It would have been amazing to see an online co-op campaign added in, but currently the game only features offline split screen co-op which is a disappointment to the co-op hopefuls.

As far as the multiplayer goes, I’m just beginning it anew, after spending around fifteen hours on the beta. As of right now I am enjoying it. Killzone 3 features a more accessible levelling progression, more to unlock and much more incentive to continue pushing forward. I hated grinding to unlock different classes in Killzone 2 and that mechanic alone killed my experience with the game and put me off it quickly. I am very happy to report that all classes are available from the beginning of Killzone 3 allowing the player more choice and an easier and happier beginning to the multiplayer. For the first time in the series, team deathmatch has been introduced in a mode called Guerrilla Warfare. While not as gripping and exciting as Warzone, Killzone’s bread and butter multiplayer mode, it does offer a training ground for the CoD kids to become acclimated with Killzone’s vastly different multiplayer gameplay.

While squads are ever present, less emphasis seems to have been placed on co-operative squad play this time around. Gone is the ability to spawn on your squad leader,  gone are your squad members stats on your hud and currently there is no “squad only” chat option. This option is supposedly being patched in soon so I’m hoping the other old squad based features from Killzone 2 will be brought be also. Far too many online shooters reward lone wolf play styles and I think tactical team based play like the Battlefield franchise brings to the table is much more realistic and rewarding. Killzone 3′s multiplayer feels a lot more like CoD’s lone wolf style and a lot less than the team based play from Killzone 2. I hope this shift isn’t intentional, a few patches and gameplay tweaks could remedy this quickly.

Overall, I think Killzone 3 is an improvement over the last, and is definitely the best of the series. The campaign, while short and disappointing near it’s end, was a fun experience for the most part, one that I prefer to other shooters on the block. It’s multiplayer is solid and Guerrilla’s support and love for it’s community is unmatched. Whether on not Killzone 3 receives features the community is crying out for remains to be seen, but based on Guerrilla’s track record, I think they are coming.

Ultimately, I’m disappointed that previous Killzone 2 features that worked well were excluded, and disappointed that the campaign didn’t finish as strong as it began but these negatives are buried by the heaping stack of positives this game provides. Compared to other shooters the campaign is more diverse and fun to play, the multiplayer is more accessible and rewarding and brutal melee is the best thing to happen to video games since Mortal Kombat’s Fatalities. Killzone 3 kicks my ass. It puts thumbs in my eyes, slices my throat and snaps my neck and yet I cannot seem to put it down.

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