Killzone 3: The PS3 Attitude Review
This particular author doesn’t normally bother reading other people’s reviews at all, but that golden rule was broken when stories of a few ‘less than stellar’ opinions were being touted on Twitter. Could Killzone 3 really be a 6 or 7 out of 10 game? Or are we dealing with some kind of irrational backlash against, apparently, nothing at all?
Read on as PS3 Attitude give you one of our trademark scoreless reviews. Everything you need to know about Killzone 3, good and bad, is contained within.
Killzone 3 picks up immediately after the ending of Killzone 2 with the story closely following the main character in the previous title, Tomas ‘Sev’ Sevchenko, and the ISA’s conflict with the Helghast Empire.
Without giving too much away, the story in KZ3 is less ‘dark’ than the previous title. This is by design, since Guerrilla Games had received feedback to suggest the plot in KZ2 was too bleak. It is difficult to balance being slightly more light-hearted with the fact that you’re still in a warzone, and that clearly shows since the storyline and plot within Killzone 3 are nothing to write home about.
It isn’t that the story is bad. Absolutely not. It is fair to say, however, that the story and plot are quite obvious and lack any real depth, which is a shame since on this occassion GG hired the likes of Ray Winstone and Malcolm MacDowell to voice two of the main Helghan protagonists.
As well a new enemies to focus on, the story also introduces a female ISA character named Jammer, but you never get to know anything about her throughout the entire story, so you are left wondering why they bothered to bring her in to the story at all.
Having said that, if our only complaint about Killzone 3 is that the story is a little on the weak side, that surely doesn’t warrant dropping 3 or 4 points in a review, right? After all, it is the gameplay we really care about, isn’t it?
Overall, Killzone 3’s gameplay strongly resembles that of Killzone 2. However, you can immediately see and, most importantly, feel the changes and updates made to the original title.
While some FPS titles provide an experience that is not much more than a camera running on rails, Killzone 3 makes you feel every visceral movement. You feel heavy, but never so much that you can’t turn and fire like an athlete. You feel like you have momentum, but not too much so that you end up missing your mark.
Slam into cover, and it really feels like you just took a punch to your arm. Get a ‘boost’ from your partner to reach higher ground, and it really feels like you’re pulling him up after you with real strength. This is a shooter that actually makes you feel like you’re in the game, and that is a difficult thing to pull off.
In addition to the shooting, which we’ll talk about later, Killzone 3 also features an updated close combat system (called Brutal Melee) which includes new melee attacks as well as the ability to string together multiple attacks in a combo. Throughout the entire first play-through of the single-player Campaign, we didn’t get a chance to combo once, but the new close quarter moves are as immersive as the rest of the experience, so we’re putting both thumbs up for this particular enhancement.
Controls are generally better than in Killzone 2 also, but we must stress the word ‘generally’. You see, it does very much depend on whether you start your PS3 with a DualShock 3 or the PlayStation Move and Navigation Controller combination.
Using a standard DS3, Killzone 3 feels and plays better than ever. The controls have been tweaked and tightened up over the original which, in this author’s opinion, was the best multi-player FPS around. KZ3 suffers from no drawbacks when it comes to the accuracy, speed and capability available when using a standard controller.
The same can’t be said of using the Move. While the PlayStation Move works just fine in combination with the Navigation Controller, the problem comes when you want to ‘turn’ the screen to point in a different direction. You need to send the cursor off to the side of the screen, at which point you start turning. To stop, you need to move back to the centre area. The problem is that the screen often doesn’t turn quick enough, and then when it does start moving it is hard to stop it.
Worse still is the reload gesture, which sees you twisting the Move to replenish your weapon. It works every time, but you often are left with the Move in a raised or lowered position after the twist, and that means that after reloading the screen is invariably pointing up to the sky or down to the ground.
There is a lot you can do to tweak and change the Move setup, so you may find that, with a little practice and modification, it will work for you. And we were unable to test it using the official PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter accessory, which is supposed to improve the experience. Try as we might however, we simply couldn’t make the Move controller do what we wanted when we wanted it, meaning we ended up as cannon fodder every single time we tried to play the Campaign mode with this control setup.
Given that most people would play the game using a standard controller, we can’t think that this is the reason why some people think Killzone 3 is a worse game than ‘Top Darts’ or ‘Modern Combat: Domination’. So it must be the graphics and audio at fault, right?
Wrong. Without a shadow of a doubt, Killzone 3 is one of the best looking and greatest sounding games you’ll play this year. While reviewers such as this author might be looking at more anal issues such as frame-rates, screen tear, resolutions and specular occlusion techniques, you can’t deny the fact that when friends and family walk in to see you playing Killzone 3 they immediately stop what they’re doing, sit down and just watch. Comments such as “look at the detail” and “I can’t believe that’s a video game” splurt from their mouths, which are now open so wide as to create a small imbalance in the air pressure.
The environments are more varied than in the previous title, with colourful jungle areas that have plants almost as deadly as the Helghast themselves, through to an Antarctic-style region with crashing waves and icebergs. Despite the occassional graphical mishap, such as a lip-sync error or a small amount of pop-up, everything in Killzone 3 looks incredible and moves smoothly.
In 3D the story continues to get better. We played through half of the single-player Campaign in 3D mode, and the effect is stunning. Initially, we did notice a little cross-talk, but that was eradicated on our Panasonic plasma by switching it to ‘reverse’ mode. Sure, the resolution drops to accomodate the 3D mode, but the frame-rate stays the same, and the experience of playing a top quality FPS in full 3D is amazing. Be prepared to take several breaks though – fast-paced shooters leave you needing to step away from the 3D experience more often than, say, a game of Top Darts.
The audio is outstanding too. Just as in the first title, a lot of time and trouble has gone in to all the incidental sound around you to create a real, true to life environment with enemies that actually have a personality. The planet itself comes to life thanks to all the sound effects, and the score that plays throughout the Campaign mode is incredible. Killzone 2 won awards for the soundtrack, and we see no reason why Killzone 3 can’t repeat that success, thanks to a stirring and emotional background score that really compliments the game.
The only area of audio that does fall down is in the voice acting. Ray Winstone is a favourite here at Attitude Towers, but he just doesn’t quite ‘fit’ into the Killzone universe. We never imagined our Helghast leaders as East-end barrow boys, and we don’t really want to start now. Malcolm MacDowell is a quality signing, as you would expect, but the other characters don’t really deliver the kind of urgency and authority you want to hear.
So that must be the reason why some people have decided Killzone 3 should perform as badly in the review score charts as ‘Funky Lab Rat’, right? Or maybe it is the lack of game modes and options.
As well as the single-player Campaign, which will net you around a third of the available trophies and take you 8-10 hours to complete, Killzone 3 benefits from a two-player local co-op Campaign that is great fun to play through with a friend. This new mode is a welcome addition to the franchise, and offers a chance to play through the story again in a different way.
Then, we have the multiplayer mode. We already stated that we feel that Killzone 2 had the best multiplayer FPS mode available, so has Killzone 3 ruined this reputation or enhanced it?
Online mutliplayer offers three different game modes: Guerilla Warfare, Warzone and Operations.
Guerilla Warfare is a classic team deathmatch game that supports up to 16 players per map. Warzone makes a welcome return from Killzone 2 and is a mission based game that offers a variety of tasks throughout, including old favourites like Assassination, Body Count, Capture and Hold and Search and Destroy. Warzone allows up to 24 players per game.
Operations is a new mode supports up to 16 players. Operations games include cinematic scenes to enhance the experience, but effectively you’re trying to take over the other team’s base. A series of ‘capture and hold’ sequences, an Operations game can be quite an involving experience.
There are a total of eight multiplayer maps that ship with Killzone 3. The Kaznan Jungle map only supports Guerilla Warfare, while the other seven support various combinations of Warzone and Operations games.
Some of the maps contain unique challenges and equipment, such as mortar beacons, miniguns and jetpacks. You’ll also be challenged with snowstorms and even a ‘crusher’ in the Mawlr Graveyard.
There are a total of five classes for players to choose from: Marksman, Engineer, Field Medic, Tactician, and Infiltrator. As before, each have their own special abilities and weapons. Unlike Killzone 2, players may choose any class from the start. However you must earn points in order to upgrade abilites and gain more weapons. Other additional abilites are also added based on your rank and can be used on any class.
Of course, the other killer addition to the franchise continues to exist and provides a bigger, better multiplayer experience than any other FPS available today – Killzone.com. The website will continue to offer all the brilliant tracking, clan management and game replay facilities that made the previous title so incredible from a multiplayer perspective, and this is an area where we believe Guerrilla Games still have the march on the competition.
In addition to the online mode, you’ll also find the return of the Botzone that allows you to pit your skills against AI bots.
So if it isn’t the game modes that make this game only a ’70 per-center’, it must be the weapon, equipment and vehicle options, surely?
In addition to all the weapons that you will hopefully know and love from Killzone 2 there are a few new bad-boys in town. Of particular note, the WASP rocket lancher can either send three target-seaking missiles towards your enemies in a swirl of smoke and death, or it can unleash a firestorm of brutality in the form of nine rockets aimed at a single point, Javelin-style. Crushingly good fun, and you’ll be rewarded for sending everything you’ve got to take out one lone Helghan gunman too.
In fact, there are 22 guns, 2 explosives and 2 turrets available in online multiplayer mode – many more options than were available in the previous game. Plus, in single-player mode, you get to play with what can only be described as The Slimer – you’ll see what we mean.
In conclusion then, we’ve established that the mediocre reviews out there can’t be based on the gameplay, game modes, graphics, audio, control mechanisms, 3D or multiplayer experience on offer. Sure, the story is a little hackneyed and the acting can be a bit poor at times, and the PS Move usage isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t the best FPS title available on any platform right now.
Because it is.
Make no mistake, if we gave scores here at PS3 Attitude, Killzone 3 would be nigh on perfect.