Killzone 3 - game review
Killzone 2 turned out to be one of the top-rated games of 2009. The Guerilla studio managed to get out of a difficult situation - after all, this production was announced as one of the PlayStation 3 workhorses. The third installment of the series comes two years after the well-received "two" and once again proves that the European developer can squeeze a sweat from Sony equipment. None of us have any doubts about that. However, was there a good follow-up in other aspects?
We're going back to Helghan to face the army of twins similar to each other in red goggles once again. Killzone 3 takes up the threads of the previous installment of the series, although it presents the plot in a different and more confusing way - suffice it to say that the game actually has three separate introductions, has been tied up with a fairly obvious narrative buckle and attacks us with dozens of archaic (non-interactive) cutscenes that are generally great, but sometimes they lend themselves to too much mental shortcuts and guesswork. In the "two", a group of soldiers simply wades through the city, so the story consists of only military adventures and struggles. This time we watch the struggle for power of the Hellenic notables, learn about the hardships of life on the planet, and even visit a local museum. Of course, to demolish them and see a system of partial destruction in action, which does not match the technology from Bad Company 2 , but still guarantees a bit of fun.
The main characters are sergeants Sev and Rico, who so far quite often had a different opinion on the same subject and jumped at each other's throats. After getting through the hordes of opponents in the previous game, the gentlemen gave up their struggle and became true war buddies. The harsh nature of the latter found an outlet in an ideological clash with Narville, the captain in charge of the evacuation. The poor military man tries to obey orders and get his people out, while the enraged Rico only thinks of saving the Latino Jammer (commander of the strike unit) and exterminating the Helghasts, who are usually evil and ready to fight under all conditions. We all know what this leads to - several hundred thousand shells fired and mountains of bodies in uniform with the insignia of both factions. On the one hand, the scenario is chaotic and at times really stupid, but on the other hand it is more colorful than before. The characters of the "good" became more distinct, and the Helghan as a nation had a personality.
The Guerilla studio team clearly tried to provide the game with attractions available from the competition. For this reason, individual parts of the campaign resemble various versions of Call of Duty (both those from the "climatic" and "gimmicky" periods), the second part of Lost Planet, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 or even the recent Halo: Reach. Many of the themes take a fresh look after embedding in Killzone's style, so that at no point will we make a mistake what game we play. Listing all the attractions can kill some of the pleasure of discovering them - suffice it to say that they change regularly (as opposed to the monotonous "two") and there are also fights with huge opponents and scenes "on rails" among them.
The Killzone roller coaster ride is pretty well balanced and engaging. At the moment when one theme starts to bother us, the game usually throws up something new, which sometimes even surprises us. The creators could take longer, for example, stages with a jetpack, which we play for literally several minutes, or work on sequences taking place in space. In the classic design, a foretaste of new solutions appears early in the campaign, and then returns in the finale. In this case, it is different - we only get a substitute for individual patents, and then they are forgotten. The most important thing, however, is that with such a multitude of disconnected situations and styles, there are no weaker moments - both the use of the backpack and sweeping at the controls of the sluggish and rocking machine on all sides is equally fun.
Part of the campaign that should definitely disappear or be completely rebuilt is the stealth action scene, modeled on crawling between the shoes of Modern Warfare opponents or sliding in the grass from Far Cry 2 . While in Infinity Ward, the bodies of soldiers are surrounded by the texture of a camouflage uniform, in Killzon 3 the creators gave up any translations. Pretending that our character is completely invisible in the 40-centimeter-long grass right under the noses of the opponents is simply stupid. The more so because the game universe has a perfect optical camouflage (it is used by snipers in multiplayer mode). The scriptwriters clearly had a weaker day.
One of the characteristics of the Killzone 2 was its specific steering, with some lag and weight. Relying on such character mechanics made the gameplay stand out on the market. For some it was an extremely atmospheric experience, and for others it was a necessary evil or simply a misguided idea. In the "three" most of these problems do not exist, because although the characters and vehicles are still sluggish, the game itself is much more exciting, precise and fluid. Latency has been reduced, hyperbrutal close-up kills have been added, the hiding system has been tweaked and speeded up, and the behavior of comrades has been improved. After all, Rico or Narville can help us when we get hit (as long as they can break through enemy troops), which greatly increases our chances of survival. This makes the game much easier, although it still tests the player's skills at the highest difficulty levels.
The various types of weapons in Killzon 3, as usual, have a huge spread and not the best accuracy, but now using almost all of them is satisfying. We even managed to pull up a bolt gun or a sniper rifle, which are shiny in this part. The biggest novelty is that we can carry handguns, basic weapons and heavy weapons - in the latter case, we get powerful miniguns that we tear from stationary positions. A flamethrower and an advanced and powerful product of the Hellghan war industry have also been added. The prototype cannon functions as viagr-like drugs - it enhances the sensations and makes us feel like real sweepers - because it is definitely too strong and it simply tears the opponents apart.
The specific climate that prevails on the battlefield in Killzon 3 is due not only to the perceived weight of the weapon, but also to the behavior of the Helghasts, who, surprisingly, are rarely praised in reviews. The "intelligence" scripts that drive the soldiers are not revolution or anything absolutely unusual. Despite this, opponents can get under our skin and often surprise us with interesting actions. On higher difficulty levels, almost every enemy we target quickly hides behind the obstacle and shoots us from this position. Also, try to ignore one flank - enemy units will immediately use the opportunity to sneak up on you. All this makes the battle scenes exciting, even when the game takes us by the hand to the enemy's rear. It is still a journey during which we have to think a little bit and look for a way to find the right way out of a given situation.
Before the game's premiere, we received assurances that the Polish language version would be juicier than what was presented in the second part. The opening scene of the adventure has mixed feelings, but after that it's much better, and at times even great. It is clearly audible that the actors are acting out the characters and trying to convey emotions. Often quite vulgar, but this is what makes specific scenes memorable. This is also due to Guerilla Games, because the loose slogans and hints given by comrades are accurate and in a way satisfying. The bunches of Ric, who runs to help us ("f ** k! Sev got hit!") Or asks for it ("I fuck you!") Are just playing. There were some technical problems - individual soldiers sometimes speak not with their own voices, which may result from incorrectly placed samples. The synchronization of speech with the movement of the mouth also makes an average impression, which applies not only to the Polish, but also the English version of the game (by the way, great - you will hear Ray Winstone or Malcolm McDowell in it).
In this installment of Killzone we got two interesting additions - the aforementioned possibility of joining the campaign in two and the opportunity to face bots on multiplayer maps. While the second element does not require a comment, it should be written a few words about cooperation. This mode is underdeveloped and clearly prepared for force. Firstly, we can only play with the other person on a split screen. Interestingly, the extracurricular player takes on the role of Nack, a soldier from the "two", who was completely forgotten in the script. Although the fun is great during the fights on foot, the lack of cooperation, unfortunately, occurs in the scenes "on rails". You clearly feel that they are made with one person in mind. Players counting on extensive interactions and a tactical Gears of War approach will be disappointed. However, if you just want to play with someone, then co-op does the job.
Every year, several games are released that compete to be called the most beautiful and advanced works. Killzone 3 will definitely be one of the favorites in this type of category, because Guerilla Games rose to the occasion and served a really great visual setting. The previous installment of the series was based on a fairly simple scheme, which consisted of several minutes of fights in gray-haired locations and short-term "revelations" after leaving the open area. For some, it represented a certain atmosphere and a desire to reflect the sad everyday life on Helghan. Others could be bored with the monotony.
Both people fascinated and disgusted with the graphics of the previous game will have to admit that the authors showed class in the "three". The locations and landscapes are second to none on consoles. Killzone 3 beats the eyes with fireworks, dozens of colored light sources, blur and particle effects. It all adds up to a picture that is sporadically illegible, but extremely spectacular. There is no monotony of colors in the campaign - we visit desert or snowy areas, ruined city districts and even the cool interiors of laboratories. As if that was not enough, owners of appropriate TV sets can set off all these wonders in 3D - guaranteed departure. Rather warm words are also due to the music, which in the first moment sneaks up to us with surprisingly dramatic violinists, then turns into quite typical drumming and ends with electronics.
With all these advantages, it should also be emphasized that the team managed to maintain a very decent stability of the animation flow, thanks to which there are practically no annoying cuts in the solo campaign. The developer limited the moments of reading the content, so frequent and surprising in the previous game. It may not be Uncharted 2 quality, but it is still much better (forced downtime is not irritating). The graphic splendor is associated with limitations in the cooperation mode - when playing on a split screen, we immediately notice the strenuous work of the LOD system, and when we overdo it, we can put the PlayStation 3 cores into consternation (the liquidity then drops to several frames per second). It doesn't bother the chaos of the fighting, and the malcontents have been warned.
A modern first-person shooter cannot do without an extensive multiplayer mode. In Killzon 3, the authors follow a previously marked path - the essence of the game is the "war zone" series, to which the standard "deathmatch" (called "guerilla") and fictionalized "operations" have been added. In the first form of play, the goals change dynamically - players have to eliminate each other, plant bombs or hunt a specific person. During the "operation" we go through a short mission, consisting of several stages and enriched with cut-scenes in which the characters of the players appear. The idea is nothing new on the market, although it will appeal to fans of team fights. We should mention the new development system - instead of linear and automatic progression, we get skill points and buy upgrades for a given character class ourselves. The three game modes are actually not many, but each of them is defensive and great - time will tell if it's enough to keep the community of players in the game.
It is worth mentioning that Guerilla Games overcame one more barrier - Killzone 3 uses the PlayStation Move controller, which guarantees a completely different experience and greater precision when aiming. However, this is a solution that you have to get used to and like - anyway, the authors have proved to some extent the attractiveness of Move for hardcore players.
The sounds of gunfire and explosions on the toxic planet Helghan are practically never stopped, and that probably won't change in the future. This is evidenced by the Killzone 3 ending which as such is somewhat disappointing. Instead of a spectacular and demanding battle, we get a sequence "on rails" and a short final. For a moment, it seems that the authors will close the not-best story with an incredibly strong accent, but a moment later they let go and serve a bad scene from the "sequel to come" series. And this probably shows in some way that while Guerilla Games made probably one of the best shooters of the year, it clearly agreed to some compromises and was afraid to go all out. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the studio had to comply with the "PlayStation can do it all" policy and introduce so many technological innovations into its production. However, do not be discouraged by these complaints, because if you like dynamic gameplay, you get excited about dazzling graphics and you are not afraid of challenges, then Killzone 3 will take control of your minds for at least a dozen or so days.
Szymon "Hed" Liebert