Review – Killzone 3

Killzone 3 is set to launch we have already fought our way through the campaign on Veteran. Was it worth our time or did it leave us as desolate as the Helghast wastelands? Found out after the jump.

Visari lies dead. Rico and Sev are tired and worn out. The bullet ridden bodies of Helghast soldiers lay all around them. And so begins the next installment of the epic series Killzone. Killzone 3 starts right where Killzone 2 left off. Rico had just put a bullet through the brain of Helghan’s Emperor, even though he was supposed to be captured alive. Visari’s death created a power vacuum that leaves the Helghan administration in a power struggle full of treachery and murder. It also leaves the ISA forces outnumbered and all alone. Low on supplies, but high on the skills of war, the ISA must fight their way off of Helghan and find a way back to earth. If nothing else, at least warn their home planet of an impending invasion that would eliminate everything they know and love.

The storyline was more than we expected as far as actual story telling in a video game goes. KZ3 could easily pass as a movie driven game. The Voice actors are real Hollywood stars such as Malcolm McDowell and Ray Winstone. The story is intriguing and entertaining and does a great job of continuing the epic storyline that is Killzone. The series has always been well written and the writers did not disappoint with this installment. The campaign only took us about 6 hours on veteran, and did leave us wishing it had a few more levels to play.

The game play is classic Killzone. You can stay back and play tactical, or go Rambo and just unload on everything. The difficulty setting is key here. If you are more of a Rambo player, Veteran might lead to more deaths than you care to endure, but the easy setting will make for a short game. We never ran into any locations in the game that had endless spawns (like the train and the palace in Killzone 2) so this Killzone seems a bit easier than the last one. We have just started playing on Elite, and that is definitely a step up, but not impossible so far. The Veteran difficulty would probably be enough of a challenge and still allow most gamers to enjoy the game, but noobs (i.e. newbies or someone new to first person shooters) might want to go a little easier for their first run.

Not found in KZ3 is anything collectible. Killzone 2 had intel hidden all around, that once found, unlocked online content that could be downloaded from like fan kits, screen shots, build-able blueprints for papercraft, and informative mini-guides. This was a cool feature, and added to the over all replayability of KZ2. hasn’t updated with KZ3 related content, so we aren’t sure what downloads might be available once it  goes completely live, but we will keep you posted.

The weapons are the same as Killzone 2, with a couple of new weapons thrown in. The sensitivity adjustments allow for faster aiming than KZ2. The game is compatible with the PlayStation Move Controller, but without any sort of rifle to attach it to, it’s much easier to play with the DualShock. If we do manage to acquire a rifle accessory, we will be sure to update our review. The in-game weapons are just as much fun in KZ3 as they were in KZ2. Accurate, powerful, and devastating at times. The newest weapon is probably the most devestating to date in the series, but we wont spoil the surprise by saying anything else about that.A jetpack was also introduced, but is limited to just a couple of locations. The jetpack has two machine guns attached to it and is a very effective killing tool. You can’t exactly fly freely around as it is more of a jump, boost, and coast type of vehicle. It was very fun to move around in, though.

New Missile Launcher

Sprinting and the cover system returns. The cover system isn’t always perfect, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some cover spots are a little short so you’ll have to run somewhere else, if you can. Some cover spots are also destructible, so staying in one place can be a very bad thing. This can be used to your advantage if the Higs are using destructible cover, so keep that in mind.

Hand to hand combat (melee system) has been updated from KZ2 and some of the most brutal deaths ever seen in a video game have been added. You no longer just kill by bashing in the Hig’s head with the butt of your assault rifle. You can now use your knife for a stealth kill, or a rush and attack kill. You may just slice his throat or stab him in the heart, or (our personal favorite) you might just stab him in the eye and give it a twist. Calling that a Brutal Melee is an understatement. Trophies are awarded for 1, 10, 25, and 50 Brutal Melee kills, so use the technique often.

The bad guys consist of the same Higs we saw in KZ2, but with a couple of new faces that can be very unforgiving. There are some new ninja like Higs, dressed in what looks like a metal uniform. that have a blade attached to their arm and can kill you within seconds if they get close. As long as you press R3 before they can attack, a brutal melee takes them out just as fast though. There are some HazMat guys that can take a little more damage than the regular Higs, but don’t present much more of a challenge.

HazMat Hig

There are a few missions where you’ll be using some sort of a vehicle. You’ll be manning the guns and rockets while someone else drives or flies, mostly. It tends to be very linear and short lived, albeit fun and exciting. There is one mission where you’ll pilot a mech with machine guns and rockets attached, but that was way too short lived. More missions along those lines would have been even more fun.

Manning a Machine Gun

The graphics for the game are very polished. This is something we have come to expect from first party developers and PlayStation 3 exclusives, and Guerrilla Games lived up to those expectations. The campaign takes you through a diverse collection of scenes and areas on the planet, and off. Environments are much larger than they were in KZ2. The level of detail is astounding at times, and hiding in the grass shows off this detail. These small details are what give the game it’s overall feel. Killzone has always been a dark game, but some of the areas of Helghan have quite a bit of color and unique plants. The colors seemed odd at times, but this is Helghan we are looking at, and not the jungles of South America.

The audio for the game was fitting. The music fit the scenes and the tempo matched the game play nicely. The game uses the HDR audio system, allowing the game to dynamically focus the audio depth of field.  This gives the gamers a true sense of audio to go along with the visual aspect of the game. The closer you are to the action, the louder the action becomes. If you are lucky enough to play the game in 3D, these two things combined should give you the true sense of being in the action.

For the first time in the series, co-op missions are now available offline in split screen mode. Online co-op would have been nice, but we will take what we can get. You and your buddy can play side by side one one TV, on what amounts to a smaller version of the the full screen. It’s not an elongated view of the game screen, but an actual full size screen brought down to fit to scale. You don’t have PS Move compatibility in split screen, so you’ll need a second Dualshock to play with a friend.

Offline Co-op Means You Got His Back

Online play for the full game hasn’t been tested since the servers were in use by the Open beta but the botzone did give us a chance to try out the multiplayer features and is a great way to practice for online matches. You can play Warzone, Guerrilla Warfare, or Operations. In Warzone you are attempting to complete constantly changing tasks, and are awarded upon completion. These tasks can be VIP (either kill or defend one player), zones, search and destroy, or bodycount (most kills wins). Guerrilla Warfare is a standard team deathmatch but you can also earn points and awards by healing players or rebuilding destroyed ammo points and other items. In Operations you battle for control of areas and have to hold them once captured (standard zone format). The new Brutal Melee system is included in online play, so get ready to stab your friends in the face.

Guerrilla Games set the bar for next generation FPS gaming with Killzone 2, and they easily reached that bar again with Killzone 3. Larger than life characters, with voices easily recognized as movie stars, gives the game a true cinematic effect that adds to the overall enjoyment of the game. Maps that are considerably larger than KZ2 gives KZ3 even more online replayability.

Our only complaint is that the campaign wasn’t long enough, but it is their goal to leave us wanting more. Where’s Killzone 4?