Review: Killzone 3
Killzone 3 is the sequel to the highly successful Killzone 2, a stellar exclusive on the PS3 that had years of hype behind it. As the final entry in the trilogy, Killzone 3 had a lot to live up to with regards to its multiplayer component, and now we finally have it in our hands to see whether or not it made the cut.
- Worth The Time?Yes, unquestionably if you even remotely liked Killzone 2.
- Things LovedThe unbelievably phenomenal graphics - even more so with 3D, the visceral action and improved and awesome gameplay, the great enemy AI and variety, the improved controls, the multiplayer modes, offline split-screen co-op for the main campaign, PlayStation Move support, the fast load times and lack of an initial install.
- Things HatedThe characters, the fact that co-op is not "drop-in drop-out" but exists as a separate campaign, the lack of online co-op, no 3D for co-op mode, the sometimes unresponsive melee system, the stupid friendly AI.
- RecommendationIf you even remotely enjoyed Killzone 2, then this is a must-have game for you. Otherwise, the story isn't vastly important, so now is a good time to jump into this series if you haven't before and enjoy your shooters.
- Name: Killzone 3
- Genre: First Person Shooter
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: Online (Up to 24 players)
- Platforms: PS3 Exclusive
- Developer: Guerrilla Games
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Price: R529-599
- Reviewed On: PS3
Killzone 3, in as few words as possible, is simply Killzone 2 again except with a number of improvements, a lot more features and more variety. That was pretty much what was expected of it, because it’s not intended to be a revolution of any kind. However, there is definitely a lot inside this latest Helghast outing, and fortunately I was able to try out everything, including 3D and PlayStation Move. I’m quite happy to say I walked away from it all with mostly positive feelings, and I feel content with it as a sequel, but there is of course a lot to discuss with Killzone 3, and I’ll be getting into it all now.
Thank goodness I didn’t walk into this franchise for its story – you shouldn’t be doing that in any case. Nothing has changed from Killzone 2, except for perhaps the cutscenes becoming more cinematic and there being more dialogue. But it’s still a rather silly plot filled with generic and annoying military douchebags who should wash their mouths out with soap and cut the profanities. The game does shove the story in your face pretentiously often enough, admittedly, but you’d best ignore it or not invest any deep interest. Either way, the game picks up straight where Killzone 2 left off, putting you in control of Sergeant Tomas “Sev” Sevchenko, a Special Forces operative fighting for the ISA against the Helghast Empire. Things have gone south after Sev’s partner, Rico, killed the Visari, the Helghast dictator, leaving the ISA forces with no bargaining ship and alone to face an entire fleet and army of Helghast ships and forces. However, the death of the Visari has also left the Helghast Empire tearing at each others’ throats in a power struggle. It’s no holes barred for the ISA forces as they struggle to survive against the Hellghast, and do everything they can to stop a full-fledged invasion of Earth.
There’s a lot to talk about regarding the single-player campaign, because while it’s quite a good experience overall, it’s also shaky in a number of areas. Firstly, the best thing would be the new inclusion of co-op for the single-player, however there is no “drop-in drop-out” system, as instead it features as an entirely separate campaign. Also, you can’t play co-op in 3D and there is no online co-op either – it’s strictly local split-screen, which is disappointing. However, the campaign itself is really great, and it’s filled with variety, new gameplay features and bright, beautiful and lively locations packed with personality, as opposed to generic gray and brown mud dumps. The campaign is fairly lengthy, and it should take you around eight to ten hours to complete on average, although admittedly there are a lot of cutscenes. Of course though it all depends on how long you’re planning to play the single-player, on what difficulty level and so on, but if you’re planning to rush it and play through it on an easier difficulty, you’ll probably complete it in five or six hours.
Briefly moving away from the main campaign, the gameplay has remained virtually the same to Killzone 2, except there have been some welcome improvements and additions to it. The cover system now gives you the option to put crouch on “hold” or “trigger” in the options menu, so you won’t have to awkwardly hold the controller to stay in cover anymore. You’re now able to execute cool-looking slides by pressing in the crouch button while sprinting, but you can’t shoot while doing this. Still, it feels cool and it slides you into cover and past danger, which is always good. Next is the new melee system, which lets you perform brutal melee kills when getting up close to an enemy by clicking the right analogue stick. However, while it definitely looks and feels awesome, and there are a number of great animations, it took away the option to freely draw your knife and stab people, which is a bit of an upset. Also, the system can be clunky at times, in that it can be unresponsive to your clicking. It’s not game-breaking, but it can definitely be annoying, and certainly calls for a few instances of frustration when you’re trying to melee someone but nothing happens, and then you get killed off.
The Sixaxis motion control feature is still in for Killzone 3, for things like turning handles and setting charges, but fortunately its involvement is minimal and, best of all, it no longer controls sniping. Yes, using sniper rifles is now actually enjoyable and doable, because you don’t need the annoying Sixaxis anymore, and can use purely the controller. On the upside, there are new weapons featured in the game, and you’ve been given the ability to carry two primary weapons in addition to your sidearm, which has infinite ammo. The weapon additions are great, ranging from shotguns, sniper rifles, sidearms, assault rifles, LMGs and a silenced SMG to a mini gun and rocket launcher that can fire artillery as a secondary fire, plus more. It’s also a plus that you can now detach mounted guns and carry them around like some sort of super soldier, even if it does reduce the realism and urgency presented in Killzone 2 a little. Speaking of new weapons, there is also a new fiery grenade type, which sets opponents alight if they come into contact with the detonation blast.
The campaign definitely has a lot to brag about over Killzone 2, in that it contains a lot more variety. There’s still an enormous amount of run-and-gun and cover-shooting, but there are more vehicle sections, unique gameplay sections, such as a stealth level, and impressive cinematic set-pieces. The inclusion of a jetpack is also definitely welcome, and it works awesomely, allowing you to hover, leap upwards and forwards great distances and blast away at enemies with its attached mini gun. It’s just a pity that the jetpack doesn’t feature many times in the campaign, but it’s there in the right levels. What makes the campaign also more enjoyable is the fact that your main allies can now revive you if you die, but the system is a mixed bag, because the friendly AI is stupid, in that at times they can be right next to you and they won’t revive you. They’ll call out on radio if they’re coming for you, but it happens quite often that they’ll get intercepted by enemy forces and will leave you to die out, which means staring at the death screen for something like ten seconds. Also, you can get frustrated at the way you can die cheaply, by things such as laughable grenade spam or rocket launchers.
Before heading online, you’d best play the Botzone mode, which basically allows you to replicate the online experience except your game is filled with bots. Its function is to let you get used to the maps and try out the multiplayer modes and classes, which have all received quite an upgrade. This time around there are three multiplayer modes on offer, namely Warzone, Operations and Guerrilla Warfare. Warzone is the classic objective-based mode from Killzone 2 that allows for up to 24 players, and cycles through the Assassination, Body Count, Capture and Hold, Search and Destroy, and Search and Retrieve missions. Guerrilla Warefare is simply a standard Team Deathmatch that supports up to 16 players, while Operations is the more interesting of the new modes. It allows for up to 16 players and features cinematic cutscenes, at the start and end of the match and between destination points. Basically in this mode one team will attempt to take over the other, defending team’s base. This is done through completing various objectives, such as planting explosives on a target and capturing and controlling parts of the map, weaving your way in and advancing towards the base itself.
With regards to the classes, called Careers in Killzone 3, there are five in total, namely Engineer, Marksman, Tactician, Field Medic and Infiltrator. Each class has their own unique special abilities and weapons, and all classes are available from the start. Class-unique abilities can be upgraded through earning Unlock Points, which are gained by ranking up, and classes can also unlock additional weapons, spread across primary, secondary and heavy. For examples on abilities, Infiltrators can disguise themselves as the enemy while a Marksman can cloak himself, and these abilities become more powerful as you level them up. Perks also feature in the game, such as improved armour and silent footsteps, and these can be used by any class and are unlocked as you reach certain ranks. Advancing through the classes will definitely keep you busy, and they are all fun and feel unique and different in their own rights, which is great. It’s incredible how balanced and well-designed all of the classes are, and it definitely makes the online experience quite tactical. The refined class-system isn’t overly complex, but it’s easily accessible, and it just works fantastically.
The revamps and improvements made to the multiplayer mode are definitely welcome, and the experience on offer here by Killzone 3 is definitely one of the best on the PlayStation 3 yet as far as first person shooters are concerned. You’ll have an absolute blast online, and the time spent playing Killzone 3 will definitely increase as the downloadable content packs start rolling in and more access is gained to the likes of vehicles online. There are eight initial maps included, and these are all fantastically designed, look amazing and include a variety of goodies inside, such as mounted guns and the awesome jetpack. Again it’s safe to say that if you enjoyed Killzone 2 in this regard, there is absolutely no reason you won’t love Killzone 3, especially because there’s just so much more on offer here and it’s much more exciting and varied.
Killzone 3 is both graphically and technically brilliant. Sure there are some bugs here and there, but for the most part they’re rare and hardly interfere with the gameplay. However, it’s admirable that the game requires no initial install and the in-game loading is almost non-existent, except for the first time you fire up your campaign. But the graphics and visuals definitely take all the glory here. It’s hard to put it into words how phenomenal Killzone 3 looks, visually. It’s quite simply a graphical masterpiece, and it’s absolutely beautiful. This is expressed clearly through its amazing character and weapon models and lively and bright levels that are filled with colour and personality. And then comes 3D – and my word, it’s on a whole new level. Simply get your 3D TV ready with your remote and then turn on 3D in the main menu options and you’re good to go. You’re able to adjust, using a slider, the depth of 3D you want, but it’s doubtful that you’ll settle for anything less than 100 percent. It’s breath-taking, and the entire experience is in 3D, it doesn’t settle for anything less.
I had my doubts about 3D, but Killzone 3 has shown me just how much it can improve the visual experience. It still has work to go, because admittedly the game isn’t perfect 3D-wise. There are flaws in the presentation, most notably where things will blur and distort a little and during cutscenes I found myself seeing almost double on the models, but it didn’t last long and got right after a little bit of time. Still, it was close to perfect in-game, and it really does make the visual experience just so much more insane, with things like people, blood, bullet shells, snow and falling debris and the HUD itself coming out of your screen. It’s something you just have to experience before you can pass any judgment. But let’s also not forget the audio work in Killzone 3, because it’s another astounding element of the game. The atmosphere is incredible, the musical scores dramatic and strangely inspiring and overall the sound is definitely something you’ll want to experience at a high volume. Regarding the voice acting, it’s always solid, but the dialogue is a downer.
Killzone 3 also offers PlayStation Move support, and after I played around with it, in combination with the Navigator, for quite some time I was left with both positive and negative feelings. Firstly, Move changes the game in that you’re given the freedom to aim anywhere on the screen and control the camera as you please by moving your crosshair towards the edges of the screen. Enemies get highlighted in the background when you zoom in on them with your weapon. The aiming and freedom involved is great and Move is responsive if you calibrate it right and have good distance, but in the end it just can’t match the experience of the controller, which is more convenient and enjoyable. It provides a different way to play the game, which is awesome, but it takes some time getting used to, and things like melee become awkward in motion. It feels like it limits your quickness and effectiveness, but that’s naturally because you need to become adjusted to it and it isn’t as easy. Still, you’d most likely want to play on an easier difficulty setting to get used to it before getting brave, or you’d probably end up sticking with the more homely and effective controller. It’s a cool option though.
Killzone 3 is one of the best shooters on the PlayStation 3, and it’s truly an incredible game. The single-player campaign may have its shortcomings, but it just doesn’t bring down what this game is worth, and of course the spectacular multiplayer more than makes up for any faults. It’s definitely as close to a complete package as you’ll find, and it includes more than enough content to keep players happy. In the end, Killzone 3 is a game of extremely high quality and production values, and it’s just a pure, visceral, beautiful and awesome action experience.