Reviewed: March 15, 2011
Released: February 22, 2011
My first encounter with Killzone 3 was at the Sony press event at last yearís E3. I was blow away to say the least with the amazing new visuals, the refined combat controls, the engaging 3D presentation, and the promise of revolutionary new Move controls. At the time, 3D TV and the PS Move were still hypothetical concepts for me, so actually seeing it and even playing it a few hours later on the show floor was a game-changing experience.|
Killzone 3 continues the epic story of the seemingly eternal battle of the ISA and the Helghast, picking up mere moments after the events where the second game ended. The game opens quite deceptively with you playing as a Helghast. For a moment I actually thought we were going to see a new side of the story, but it just turns out it was you in disguise Ė one of those non-linear storytelling devices where you will actually catch up to current events later in the game.
There are plenty of familiar faces including your primary character, Sev, who has a causal disregard for orders. I canít count the times he disregarded command and even challenged his own comrades to either help him or ďjust give me a gun and Iíll do it aloneĒ. Such bravado! Killzone 3 really mixes up the level design; so much it actually starts to fall apart. Youíll have some frantic urban combat in the nuked remains of the Helghast home world, then youíll be doing a covert sneaking mission through some crazy wilderness terrain, then itís down to the arctic tundra for some jetpack missions, then back to the city for some sniper cover-fire missions. There are also a few on-rail vehicle missions in various hovercraft and even an epic final battle in outer space. While I loved each and every mission the whole experience really got a bit disjointed as a cohesive story.
But who needs a story when combat is this much fun. Guerrilla has really polished the controls, addressing almost every issue I had with the second game. Movement, cover, and targeting are all responsive and accurate, and the level of real-world physics has never been better. The game plays flawlessly with the DualShock 3 and even makes use of the SIXAXIS to prime explosives or turn a valve wheel.
Enemy AI has been enhanced creating a much more difficult and realistic story experience. A new brutal melee system has been adding allowing all sorts of cool takedowns and stealth kills, and plenty of new weapons have been added to the mix. Killing has never been this much fun.
For those who have a PS Move, you can play the game much like the old-school light-gun games. Youíll still need to move around with the Navigator while aiming with the Motion controller but it works pretty well. The game takes on a whole new level of realism when you stick those Move devices in the new Sharpshooter gun controller. Iíll be reviewing this separately but letís just say this is the best gun and the best gun-supported game I have played on any system in my 30 years of gaming. There is a 20-30 minute learning curve to get comfortable with the Sharpshooter and maybe another hour to get proficient, but once you master the device you will become an insanely accurate and unstoppable killing machine Ė especially in multiplayer.
And how about that multiplayer Ė starting with Team Deathmatch for traditional competitive killing, and the new Operations Mode where you actually have to plan and complete objectives. The game tracks the highest scoring players and then features them as the stars in their own in-game cutscenes Ė the ultimate in ego-gratifying bragging rights. I was also a big fan of the new XP system that allows you the freedom to level up your characters as you see fit, even if those abilities arenít for the class you are currently playing. Wrapping up the multiplayer is a two-player co-op mode for the campaign, but it only supports local play (no online) and you cannot co-op using the Move controls.
Killzone 3 rocks the visuals with a 720p display that puts most 1080p games to shame. Even with levels that are ten times the size of those in Killzone 2, the frame rate is silky smooth, the animations are works of mo-capped art, and the textures are ultra-realistic. Particle effects, snow, smoke, fire, explosions, that green energy stuff; it all looks amazing. The two times you get to wear the Helghast helmet, the helmet display is insane, with all sorts of information just floating off the surface of your screen. It looks very close to 3D even in 2D.
Things get crazy when you play Killzone 3 in 3D, and while Iím not the biggest fan of the technology, if there ever was a game to push you into the next generation of home viewing, this is it. Playing this game in 3D only enhances the experience giving you a heightened sense of depth and dimension. That aforementioned HUD really does float off the screen now and your weapon seems to pierce the glass of the TV. The targeting reticle just seems to float somewhere inside the picture and actually seems to improve my accuracy. If you combine the PS Move with 3D you are as close to virtual reality as this generation is going to give us.
The music is pretty much what we expect from the genre and the franchise, but the combat and weapons sounds, and even the environmental effects are outstanding. Voice acting is also topnotch, even if the script turns our heroes into Neanderthals much of the time. The HDR audio package blew me away, not only with the traditional Dolby Digital mix, but a DTS 7.1 that put my home theater system to the ultimate test. Very few movies and even fewer games make use of all eight speakers in my living room, but when they are all active the acoustic immersion is unlike anything you can imagine, especially combined with 3D visuals and Move interaction.
But even if you donít have a super-cool 3D TV and high-end audio system, or even a PS Move, Killzone 3 is a total blast to play and one of the most polished FPS titles Iíve played on Sonyís console to date. They story might lose its focus from time to time but there is no denying the cool factor of each mission, even on a standalone basis, and the multiplayer is some of the best Iíve experienced since MAG, and will keep you coming back for months to follow. Killzone 3 is an amazing game that doesnít necessarily push any genre boundaries, but it does push the PS3 and the people who play it to new levels of immersion and realism, creating a revolutionary new gaming experience that no one should miss.