Price: £38.99 (Amazon)
Cursed with having to live up to the high expectations of its incredible pre-PS3 teaser trailer, the last installment of Sony’s much-hyped fps may not quite have reached the levels of shooter stalwarts Halo or Call of Duty, but it wasn’t far off.
While its sequel falls a long way short of having a decent story, (more on that later), makers Guerilla have certainly delivered where most gamers will say it matters, with just about every aspect of the action on offer refined to the point of near perfection.
Killzone 3 picks up the plot right where its predecessor left off, with a small group of human ISA soldiers struggling to survive on the enemy Helghan home world after successfully assassinating its leader Scolar Visari.
The single player mode lets you play as Sev Sevchecnko, the returning hero from the second game, as you and your fellow stranded squaddies battle your way off the planet.
Killzone’s iconic enemy cuts an even meaner figure this time around. The Helghast foot soldiers with their glaring red eyes and uniforms coupled with sinister gas masks, are now much smarter and quicker and able to cover more effectively.
Partly because of this, the pacing of Killzone 3 is nothing short of relentless, sometimes unbearably so, and its this intensity that genuinely helps sets it apart from any other FPS about right now.
This new urgency is probably best exemplified by the addition of some epically gory new melee attacks. Saddle up close enough to an enemy Helghan soldier, for example, and you can gorge out their eyes with your thumbs.
An often held criticism of the last game was Sev’s somewhat sluggish movement, but this is thankfully a thing of the past with gunplay much faster, and our hero generally much more nimble and in turn easier to control.
Your teammates are also a bit sharper, with them now able to resuscitate you three times before you die outright and have to restart from the last checkpoint.
There’s a nice mix of objectives, with standard shootouts complemented by a tense stealth mission, some terrific sniper action duty, on rails-shooting segments in tanks and gunships, and, in what must rank as the game’s highlight set-piece, a chance to strap on a jetpack and take on the enemy while airborne.
There’s an option to play through campaign mode in co-op, and while this works really well, it’s sadly restricted to local play.
The much-loved Warzone multiplayer mode from Killzone 2 returns, and it’s bolstered by two other new online modes. Guerrilla Warfare plays out like a standard Team Deathmatch, while Operations is somewhat similar to Bad Company’s Rush Mode.
Peppered with cut scenes, it has you take on a series of objectives like capturing an enemy base or planting charges, before ultimately pushing through the levels to a final objective.
Visually, Killzone 3 is nothing short of breathtaking, taking off into an a realm that’s way beyond it’s predecessor, and arguably offers the best showcase yet for the PS3’s graphical chops.
Every battlefield feels alive and atmospheric, with smoke billowing from burnt out wrecks and dust and debris drifting atmospherically across the game camera. From arctic wastelands to lush jungles, there’s a huge amount of variety in the incredibly detailed landscapes you ‘ll explore this time around.
It’s worth also mentioning that the game’s support for the PS3’s Move controller is particularly good, and a viable substitute to using a venerable Dualshock.
You use the navigation controller to move, while the Move controller aims, adjusts the camera, and shoots.
There are also gesture controls, with a ‘stab’ forward for a melee attack and a quick twist of Move to bring about a reload of your current weapon.
It’s feels fluid and precise and is far from being the gimmick you may well have suspected.
On the downside, the game’s narrative still doesn’t quite match the quality of the action. Guerilla have clearly set out to improve upon the almost non-existent plot of KZ2 that brought plenty of criticisms, offering up a feature length film’s worth of cut scenes stored on the game’s disc.
However, it’s all a bit plodding, and there’s a failure once again to establish a likable cast of characters.
Hollywood heavyweight’s Malcolm McDowell and Ray Winstone are wheeled out to voice the game’s two villains, Johann Stahl and Orlock, but while you sense the pair gave it a good go, it all feels at best hammy and, at its worst, a bit pantomime.
Storylines aside, while veteran FPS players won’t find Killzone 3 breaking any major new ground, it nails the fundamentals in every way, sporting the best console shooter graphics yet, and an incessant, slick gameplay experience that elevates the series to the lofty heights of its rivals.
By KevinLynch | February 16th, 2011