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Killzone 3 Campaign Review

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I read the following quote on Digital Foundry’s “The Making of Killzone 3” article:

“I think the exclusion of a few things like a complete co-op campaign, big vehicles, on-rails sections and a few others were things we felt would stretch us too thin. They’ve been on our wish-list to master for a long time and the time just wasn’t there yet for Killzone 2,” van der Leeuw explains.

So let me get this straight. Guerrilla Games wanted to implement “on-rails sections” in Killzone 2, but could not? Talk about a prime example of “less is more”.

I thought Killzone 2 was a pretty good game. I appreciated it for honing in on the first person shooting experience. I found the first person cover system gave the game a unique feel which also helped immerse me into the gritty war ridden world of Helghan.

I also mentioned my appreciation of the mash-up of first person shooter elements in Killzone 2. Killzone 3 was also a mash-up, but of only Modern Warfare 2 moments. Some of these moments were quite noticeable including:

  • on-rails flyover shoot up of oil rig platforms
  • racing through snowy hills on a treaded vehicle
  • a slow, methodical and directed stealth mission

They even took a page out of the Call of Duty book and included unlimited spawning enemies.

These aren’t flattering features to have and copying them from one of the most successful first person shooters isn’t going to incur more sales. The directed stealth mission was the only lifted scenario that I enjoyed because it was a bit ridiculous and it featured a Tier One operative look-alike. He sported the hat, sunglasses and a burly beard. Space Tier One operatives!

New enemy types like the jet pack wielders and giant robotic panthers brought different flavors to the combat, but at its core, Killzone 3 was a cover based shooter. There was a lot of pop up and aim for helmets, but this time I was enticed by the reward of seeing a “brutal melee” kill which meant I was running dudes down in order to poke their eyes out with my thumbs. Fortunately, this time around, the enemy A.I handled rushes better; they no longer stood around looking confused. They at least tried to fight back this time.

It was revealed earlier this year that Killzone 3 featured 70 minutes worth of cutscenes. That little tidbit didn’t bother me then and it didn’t bother me during my time with the campaign. I knew why they added the cutscenes (to hide load times) and I appreciated the time they took to flesh out scenarios and situations. My only gripe with the cutscenes was the sudden drop in quality towards the latter half of the game. There were many abrupt cuts and and jumps which gave the last few chapters a rushed feel. I don’t believe they were rushed though. After learning that they used up 41.5 GB of a 50 GB Blu-ray disc, I’m guessing they were tight on space. They had to jam in both 2D and 3D versions of the movies after all.

Yes, Killzone 3 featured 3D capabilities, but I don’t have a 3DTV, so I didn’t get a chance to try that out. I also don’t own a PlayStation Move, so that thorough motion implementation also went untested — for now. However, I do own an HDTV and a pair of eyes, so I was able to bask in the game’s 2D glory. Killzone 2 is still one of the better looking console titles released to date and in many ways, the sequel topped it.

It’s a cleaner game with less grime and grit. They also toned down the motion blur and implemented Sony’s MLAA technique to give the game a very sharp look compared to the past game. It also runs a very firm 30 frames per second which was a relief for me after the multiplayer beta and its awful framerate.

I wish the audio received the same amount of attention as the visual presentation because it was very inconsistent and buggy with repeated audio skips. It’s especially disappointment coming from the likes of Dead Space 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

I also wish there was more room on the Blu-ray disc because I wanted to see more Martin McDowell. I felt he was a bit underutilized. I would have liked to have seen him get really riled up about space Nazi politics and incompetence. The game’s story wasn’t very original, but he carried it home.

Killzone 3’s strengths obviously lied with its visuals which was why I tried to immerse myself by removing the game’s HUD elements. By removing the HUD I paid more attention to the different sounds a weapon made when it was nearing the end of a clip and learned to pick up on the visual cues for progression. It turns out that the latter wasn’t very difficult at all. There was often only one way to progress and it was often damn obvious.

What wasn’t obvious was the amount of enjoyment I’d derive from the game. I thought it was going to be Killzone 2, but better. And while it was in several key areas including visuals and controls, I felt the game’s flow and design left a lot to be desired. I wouldn’t call it “safe” like Dead Space 2, I’d call it a full on retreat for cover. It’s a good thing the gun play remained so solid because that was about the only piece of Killzone 2’s gameplay identity that remained intact.

Everything else felt so November 10, 2009.

Verdict:
Worth A Try

Ratings Guide

For more information on Killzone 3, visit the official website.

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