Ever since that infamous Killzone 2 CG trailer was shown at E3 2005, every future game in the franchise was set for an insane amount of hype. Killzone 2 was one of those rare games that not only managed to live up to it, but was successful in surpassing it. The game was known for its breath taking visuals and an addictive multiplayer that sucked me right in for hours and hours of gameplay. In short, Killzone 2 was a humongous success, especially when compared to the original Killzone on the PlayStation 2. Unfortunately Killzone 3 does not best what Killzone 2 did two years ago, but manages to salvage some pride due to its vistas and a deep multiplayer experience.
Killzone 3 takes place directly after the events of Killzone 2 with the ISA in a total mess after Rico kills Scolar Visari, the leader of the Helghans. As you all know the plot of Killzone 2 was nothing to speak about but fortunately the third game manages to put some sense in to it. After the fall of Visari, the Helghast Empire finds itself in a state of internal struggle between the two heirs Sthal and Admiral Orlock. Guerilla Games have done a neat job of focussing the events that takes place between the now Helghan leaders and the struggles of Sev and the ISA. The plot also takes a look at the complex relationship between Narville and Rico, as they hardly come to terms with each other, but still work together to stop the Helghan assault.
One particular point that I want to talk about is Rico- I absolutely hated him in Killzone 2 and for some reason I thought his character was unnecessary in the subject of the franchise. But I am glad to report that Guerilla games have revolutionized the guy, much the same way that Kojima Productions did with Raiden in MGS4. You will also see many new faces belonging to higher order of Helghans disputing on who should be their visionary leader after Scolar Visari. You will get to see a Helghan soldier killing another Helghan solider, a Helghan leader fighting another Helghan leader… it’s all there in Killzone 3. Overall the is one of the highlights of the game.
Now let’s jump straight to the gameplay. After going to through the initial few moments of the game, you will be zapped in to the future where you will be disguised as a Helghan. This serves nothing but a tutorial section where you will learn the basic mechanics of shooting and other stuff that you will need to adopt in the game. So the game takes place in pieces of flash backs, set six months apart. One of the things that I really loved about Killzone 2 was the feel of the weapons and fortunately Killzone 3 does not disappoint in this department. The weapons have the unique weighty feel to them and you can actually feel the difference of holding a shotgun or a hand gun somehow.
There are literally tons of weapons that Guerilla has provided in the game and some of them are a hell lot of fun. In Killzone 2 your best buddy was the M82 Assault Rifle, but now there are hosts of options you can choose from. You will come across the likes of favourite oldies like VC9 Rocket Launcher, LS13 Shotgun and VC32 sniper rifle along with some new ones like my favourite, WASP launcher. Though you are only going to use this baby just a couple of times in the single player campaign, it is a blast while it lasts. The launcher, as the name suggest will launch (duh) heat seeking missiles and auto lock its target, destroying everything in the environment. You can also detach sentry weapons like the VC116 and LS116 and take on hoards of Helghans at once. Two of the most unforgettable weapons, though, were StA5X and VC21 Boltgun. The former will fire bolts with high velocity and will get the helghans to get stuck in to any nearby object and then blowing them in to pieces and the latter fires a greenish warp which will suffocate your enemies until they succumb to death.
Mechs also make a return in Killzone 3. During some sections in the game, you will be required to take down tanks and other important enemiesm and that is where Mechs will come into the picture. LS209 Exoskeleton, as they are called in the game, are highly agile and come with a standard missile launcher and a gun. But just like in the previous game, the mech sections form a very tiny part of the game. Jet packs which we first saw at last year’s E3 are a ton of fun and in fact one entire section is based on them wherein you will have to traverse from one higher location to another or jump between structures far apart. The jetpack comes in with two guns, enough to take down any Helghan in sight. There are also vehicle sections in Killzone 3 which even add more depth in to the already solid gameplay.
I think Scolar Visari really meant it when he said “The madness….begins” while dying because the Helghans are insane and they really want you kill. And this is one of the major points where Killzone 3 has improved on its predecessor. The AI of the enemy is perhaps one of the best, if not the best, that I have witnessed in video games. I think the developers have mapped the movement of your gun to that of the Helghans since they were so smart in moving around and changing covers. Also, these guys are not your mommy like enemies; they won’t go down easily, with each of them needing a good chunk of your ammo before they fall down. There are also a few new enemy types like Bots, Spiders and most notably the Helghan Carriers. The Helghan Carriers are nothing but fast moving dinosaur like mechs who will fire missiles at sight. Your best bet is to use the bolt gun or the missile launcher to blow them out. The standard Helghan soldiers, the rpg guys, snipers and flame throwers all return with unprecedented AI in Killzone 3. The one disappointing thing in KZ3 is the lack of boss fights. There is only one substantial boss fight which we already played 2 months ago in the preview code, one that you are probably aware of. Other than that Killzone 3 fails to deliver great boss fights, something like the one with Radec, not to mention the last fight is downright horrible.
Level design is a key element in first person shooter games and Killzone 3 delivers spectacularly on that front. The levels have been intelligently designed with each of them providing cover to the player and hence making your fights more fair rather than difficult where anyone can shoot you blindly. There is one particular level in the game where you have to change your pace and be stealthy in your approach. You have to stick to the shadows and carry out a series of melee moves and use your environment to get through. I think the developers took a leaf from the Call of Duty games but nevertheless this provides a nice change of pace in the otherwise fast and furious gameplay.
There have been no changes in the default controls of Killzone 3 which might not go down well with some players but I think you can always customize that via the options menu. But I think the default controls worked just right for me or maybe I just got acquainted with it due to the insane number of hours that I had put behind the second game. In short if you already loved it then you should have no issues but if you are facing problems there is an option to change it, and you should definitely go with it. Killzone 3 also comes packed with support for Sony’s PlayStation Move and to be honest I did not enjoy it. I think Sony should not forcefully implement Move with every big game of theirs as I think this was just an unnecessary addition. Again this may work with some players but unfortunately it did not work with me. One nice thing about the MOVE support was that the in-game camera was zoomed in which gave you more insight in to the stunning visuals of Killzone 3. It would actually be best experienced with 3D, but stand alone, it fails to deliver as an interesting alternate control scheme.
That brings me to the graphics. I think words cant possibly describe how beautiful the game looks. Guerrilla Games have added more colours this time around and each level really looks outstanding. The destroyed world of Helghast, the marshes and the fight in space look absolutely stunning. The character models are a hundred times better than what we saw in Killzone 2. The lip syncing is on the spot and the voice acting by every character is Hollywood level. The sound is a bit of a miss and hit. During some levels the score just matches the environment and the gameplay pretty well but during some it was totally off.
Multiplayer is better than ever in Killzone 3. There are basically three online modes: Warzone, Operations and Guerrilla Warfare. Guerrilla Warfare is nothing but your classic 16 player team death match. Warzone is much more varied where the gameplay mechanic change from Assassination, Capture and Hold and Bomb planting. Operations, easily my favourite is pretty close to a mini game in itself where the ISA will go on the offensive and the Helghans have to defend their territory. This requires the ISA team to plant bombs and capture and hold areas. The most unique thing about this mode is the cutscenes that are played out within various sections, essentially making it one of the addictive online modes in the game. Also just for the record there are 8 maps which are Corinth Highway, Pyrrhus Crater, Bilgarsk Boulevard, Turbine Concourse SE-6, Frozen Dam, Akmir, Snowdrift and Kaznan Jungle and Mawlr Graveyard with one of them having snow storm which means visibility may be factor in this map. There are a total five character classes: Marksman, Engineer, Field Medic, Tactician, and Infiltrator and each of them can earn some massive amounts of XP if they utilize their respective abilities in the manner required.
As we had mentioned in our Killzone 3 preview, Skills Points are a welcome addition to the multiplayer modes. Instead of levelling up linearly one can spend those skill points on any of the classes mentioned above. Again this gives a nice balance to the gameplay since the players can spend those Skill points either on one class or multiple classes. Co-op is a new addition to the series where you and your buddy team up to play as Rico and Sev whilst adding a new dimension to the campaign mode. However I really think that Guerilla should have done an online co-op mode as well. One good addition is that you can also check the multiplayer modes offline via the Bot mode which will pit you in a group of bots to give you a pretty neat offline multiplayer experience.
Killzone 3 is not a game without flaws. I experienced freezing issues which caused the game to hang for more than a moment which is nothing big but still should not have been present in the first place. There were also a few moments where the characters repeated the same few dialogues, hence bogging down the experience a bit. The length of the single player is very short. I completed it in less than five hours, which, in my book, is simply unacceptable. However when I weigh the shortcomings with the awesome multiplayer modes, excellent gameplay, engaging plot and mind boggling visuals, Killzone 3 is worth your money. It is just a bit disappointing that there was so much hype associated with this game and unlike Killzone 2 it did not quite deliver the way it should have, or as much as it should have. Overall Killzone 3 is a pretty solid sci-fi shooter and I will be on the lookout as to what Guerilla Games will do with Killzone 4, if there ever is one.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Plot is definitely one of the highlights of the game, stunning visuals and voice acting, stealth in certain sections is a welcome change, excellent character development and progression, plenty of fun and fast action sequences, enemy AI is perhaps the best we have seen in the FPS genre, Rico is a badass, multiplayer online and offline modes are revised not to mention Operations is a mini game in its own, Skills points are a great addition.
Lots of Momentary freezing issues, single player clocks in fewer than five hours for trooper (normal) difficulty, sound issues, lack of boss fights, MOVE support is hit and miss
Killzone 3 is not as big an improvement as Killzone 2 was over its predecessor, but still manages to keep up despite not being rich on content.