If you’re a sucker for a good-looking game, then Killzone 3 could be destined to become the centrepiece of your games library for the foreseeable future. Every single pixel has a job to do, and that job is to make your jaw hit the floor.
Developer Guerrilla Games seems to have spent most of the development cycle trying to raise the bar of what you expect a game to look like. Call Of Duty: World At War was a great looker and it excelled during certain cut scenes or sections. But Killzone 3 looks (and sounds) incredible every step of the way.
In a genre that’s come to favour an approach of jumping from one storyline to another, it’s good to see Guerrilla sticking to the case in hand – get the hell off planet Helghan in one piece while stopping the impending invasion of Earth. The campaign is everything you want it to be; exciting, exhilarating, loud and stimulating. It’s nothing short of a blockbuster right down to the ending, which like most movie blockbusters, is a massive let down.
The biggest improvement to gameplay is the fact that the slow and heavy feel of the controls from Killzone 2 is gone. There were definitely a few times in part two (especially on harder difficulty settings) where I would blame my deaths on the sluggish controls. Guerrilla has listened to the masses of feedback and caved in. The game’s crux – shooting the Helghast in the face – is now a lot more responsive and more fun to play. With Killzone 3, when you see it, you can shoot it. In my opinion, this also makes the multiplayer more fun to play.
While the campaign might not throw up any first-person shooting surprises (are there any left, even?), each level is beautifully crafted and paced. One level might be a straight case of run-and-gun, while another might require you to take your time as you pick of enemies from a distance. But besides the obligatory stealth level, it’s pretty much action all the way to the end.
Firepower is never a struggle to come by. Killzone 3 sees the inventory upped to allow you to carry a heavy weapon alongside your main weapon. And with ammo crates bountiful, a huge chain gun or rocket launcher will never be far away from the action.
A big complaint levelled at the previous game was that it all looked a bit samey – brown. The developer has obviously taken that on board and focussed on variation. Aside from the brown rubble of the city environments, there are displays of alien vegetation, snow-capped mountains and even space.
Unfortunately, though, with all this attention to visual detail, the story seems to have taken a bit of a back seat. If it was as good as the visuals, it would get an Oscar. But as it happens, the plot is wafer thin. Basically it’s up to Sev (you) and Rico to lead a small team safely off Helghan and back to Earth, preferably before the Helghast get there. If Guerilla could have focused a little more energy on making that feeling of being lost on a hostile planet – and fighting for your life to get off it – a bit more real, Killzone 3 could have been a very different ‘story’. As it is, the only way to get off the planet is to blow everything up that moves. And I do mean everything.
If you’re not firing a gun, you’re launching missiles. If you’re not firing missiles, you’re riding on the back of a tank squeezing the life out of its cannon. In fact, if you’re not maiming Helgans for the sheer fun of it, you’re probably watching a cur scene. The backdrops to the action are, at times, incredible and really enhance the feeling that there’s a war going on around you. You can see giant space fleets moving towards Earth above you as you fight your way off the rock. Every level is loud and extremely proud of it. It would be a tough call to pick which game is more macho: Killzone 3 or Gears of War.
Even though co-op finally turns up (late) to the party, it’s offline only, which is a huge disappointment considering the online co-op experiences offered elsewhere in the genre. A solid multiplayer experience somewhat makes up for that shortcoming, though. You basically get team deathmatch and objective-based modes (Guerilla Warfare, Warzone, and Operations) and they’re all class-based. Adding longevity to the whole experience and making you feel like you’re working towards something is a points system. You get points for kills and performing well that can then be used to buy new weapons or upgrade your chosen abilities. If you’ve got no mates, no broadband or just one pad, you can fight bots in BotZone.
A note should also be made that the game is fully compatible with PlayStation Move, and while it works with the peripheral a treat, you won’t want to give up the control that a good old pad offers. If anything, though, Move is just another reason to blow through the campaign again. If you’re rich, you’ll also be able to impress you mates with the 3D visuals. Sony’s flagship shooter ticks almost all the right boxes. A short and slightly shallow campaign and the lack of co-op are the only real letdowns. Guerrilla Games has created a dazzling and spectacular experience that no PlayStation fan should miss.