- Mediocre story
- Some checkpoint issues
Final score: 9 / 10
A functional PlayStation 3, Internet for multiplayer
I would have liked to see Killzone 3 push on the definition of the blockbuster first-person shooter more and deliver something new, but the very nature of the game meant that there was little chance of that.
But the creators at Guerrilla Games managed to deliver a very solid experience that manages to feel tougher and more rewarding than Call of Duty: Black Ops in the action department while delivering a story that, while it will not win any awards for quality of writing, managed to keep me interested, mainly because two very well-known, instantly recognizable and perfectly cast voice actors that ham it up as the two main villains of the piece.
With Visari dead at the end of Killzone 2, factions are fighting for control inside the now more than always Nazi-themed Helghast nation and the remnants of the ISA are pulling out. This is the basic setting into which Sev and Rico, together with a few mostly easy to forget supporting characters, are dropped to take care of themselves.
The story at first seems to be very much inspired by something like Brothers of War, focusing on camaraderie between soldiers and leaving no one behind, but then it all escalates as a huge intergalactic threat pops up and, as always, our intrepid heroes are the only ones in a clear position to stop it from doing the unthinkable.
It's pretty clear that the narrative is there to drive the player to the “Cool!” moments and that a limited number of players actually care about inter-character relationships or the effects of war on the human psyche, but there are things that, in a simple and direct manner, I wish that a series like Killzone would explore.
To me, the highlights of Killzone 3 are the firefights it manages to create, with enemies that are more than the simple shooting gallery mannequins and where the player actually needs to use some thinking and tactics to get through. They are able to throw grenades at the worst moments for the gamer and manage to pop out of cover at the exact time I am reloading my heavy machine gun. The battles are actually challenging and do not depend on endlessly respawning enemies that only stop coming when the gamer moves forward to a new position, ready for a new battle sequence.
There are even some stealth portions, but those could really have used more work, with the “tall grass” system fairly primitive and seemingly tacked onto the game at the last moment.
The linear vehicles sections are varied, with the snow-based one providing the biggest adrenalin hit of the line up, but they seem a bit too linear for their own good at times.
One thing that disappointed me was how little utilized the environment was. There were some little pieces that could be destroyed and blood on snow always looks good, but I was expecting something more, especially in the lush tropical chapter of the game, where I wished to do more with the plant life than just shoot red fruited ones that doubled as explosive barrels.
I also hoped to have more freedom in the jet pack powered sequences. First of all, the apparatus should have probably been called a “jump pack” because of its short flight time, although that would not have sounded as sexy and, even if the battles with other jetpack-equipped enemies were nice to dance around with, there was not enough space to do a little drive by flying.
Killzone 3 also has some issues with the spacing of checkpoints in certain areas, especially in the snow-based levels, and frustration can set in at times, especially when flamethrower-armed enemies are thrown into the mix in very tight corridor-like areas.
The PlayStation Move is well supported by Killzone 3, with the targeting often quicker when using motion tracking than a regular gamepad, and Guerrilla Games really took the time needed to create a control scheme which does not stand in the way of gameplay.
Graphics and audio
The developers and designers working on Killzone 3 really took to heart the complaints about the mixed world of browns and grays that became emblematic of the second game in the series and have worked hard to change things. Even in the first mission, which is set in ruins of the Helghast capital, the game looks better, with color sprinkled all over, catching the eye of the player and making the world feel warm (although any idea of hospitality is quickly abandoned when weapons start firing all around the player).
Up, close and personal
The framerate is also solid, even in the scenes where many characters are on screen at the same time, and there's no tearing that I have seen. There are some edges that are a bit more jagged than one would like, but full antialising is still reserved for the PC.
One let-down is the look of the cutscenes, which seem to be done with the same engine as the game, where the faces of most characters strike me as being “glued on” their skeleton, creating a weird effect especially when the characters try to move and talk at the same time.
The sound is also well done, with weapons that sound both menacing, in the hands of the enemy, and reassuring, when allies are wielding them, and a soundtrack that knows how to stay in the background while punctuating significant moments.
Two special mentions go to the voice actors that played two dueling Helghast pretenders to the throne, the industrialist of Malcolm McDowell and the uber general played by Ray Winstone. They sound like they’re aware of them starring in a video game and tackle their lines with a mix of gravity and inner laughter which really works.
The big draw is Warzone, the mode which is linked to teams and objectives, creating a real sense of camaraderie between players. The mode is surprising and engaging and allows both for some lone wolf experiences and for team play. The game is quick, keeping things interesting in the long term, and I rarely encountered the sort of obnoxious gamers that tend to populate Call of Duty servers.
As always, it pays to jump into multiplayer soon in order to make sure that you level up along with the crowd and you don't get the feeling that everyone is way better when jumping into a match.
Those who are interested in the mutiplayer should also make a first obligatory stop in the Botzone section of the game. The main advantages lie in having a look at all the included maps, without having to do so with the pressure to compete and succeed added. Having at least a bit of knowledge on where spawn points and choke points lie can be the difference between a good match ended a victory and a miserable first few matches where the bitter taste of defeat is all one tastes.
One thing no one can say about the Killzone series is that it maintains cohesion from one installment to the other. A lot of people complained about the second game being set in too similar spaces, about the firefights being too restricted and about the gray and brown drowning every color out of the game.
This third title addresses all those faults but it overreaches in some ways and commits new sins, still it's a clear step forward for the franchise and a sign that there's a lot of innovation left in the minds of the developers at Guerrilla Games.
The game could have taken a few more changes and could have tried to push a few more boundaries, but the mix of single-player action, over-the-top yet humorous cutscenes and solid multiplayer mean that all those who are looking for some Helghast to shoot on the PlayStation 3 need to pick up and play Killzone 3.