Being the second big PS3 exclusive title of 2011, Killzone 3 will also be the first game to be given a full Gamersyde review this year. To find out what we thought of Guerilla's action-packed FPS and watch our (short) videos, you simply need to follow me inside and sit comfortably. Update: The review is back in time again with Launch Trailer added.
The story resumes exactly where we had left our two heroes (Sevchenko and Veslasquez) at the end of Killzone 2. It is then outside the Visari Palace that this new adventure begins, and it is not long before all hell starts breaking loose and the player finds himself in the middle of a war zone. Overall, the plot seems a bit more paced than in the previous game, with a feeling of urgency that is better conveyed. The characters also seem to have been given a better treatment, making them more appealing somehow and this is because the storyline does not only revolve around the conflict itself, but also about the men that are taking part in it.
Sure, you still get the stereotyped situations where Rico and Sev express their strong disagreement with their squad leader, but even though all the events that unfold are pretty standard for the genre, there is still some real incentive to find out how things will turn out in the end. It even gets really personal to the player at some point, as soon as the evil plans of the Helghasts are made clear.
Talking about Helghasts, it is maybe a bit regretful to see that Scolar Visari did not really get a worthy successor yet to continue the fight against the human race. Don't get me wrong, Malcolm McDowell (Jordan Stahl) is just great in his role, but his character does not manage to reach the same level of charisma as the former leader, which leaves the spot for a memorable villain empty. That being said, it would not be fair to deny the fact that the direction the story is taking is shaping up well, which is very promising for the more than likely Killzone 4. One other thing I regret is how short the ending cinematic is, especially considering the number of very good cutscenes that the rest of the game has.
If you are used to the previous episode's gameplay, then you should feel yourself at home, like I did. The gunfights are very dynamic, the enemies are fearsome when it comes to throwing grenades at you (expect some nerve-racking moments in hard mode) and it is one hell of a show. It is still possible to get to cover, which does not necessarily mean you will be out of harm's way, and you can also slide after a long dash. Two reasons to do so: one is to look cool while trying to reach safer grounds, two is to sweep an enemy off his feet if he gets in the way. Sometimes death can be a bit frustrating as you don't see it coming and when it happens, you simply don't understand what you did wrong. However, Guerilla Games have been pretty generous in terms of check-points so you should keep all your hair by the time you get to the end of the game.
Weapons are of course of paramount importance in a game like Killzone 3 and thankfully, they do not disappoint. You will find the usual assault rifles and machine guns but also a few new toys like this Helghast gun that allows you to completely disintegrate your target. Melee is also part of the deal and the various executions you can carry with your knife are a lot of fun to watch. Finally, the jetpack that first appeared in Killzone Liberation on PSP offers new sensations and is pretty nice to handle. Flying and shooting will require a bit of getting used to and skills but hey, that's part of the whole point right?
So the player does not get bored because of a lack of variety, Killzone 3 alternates between over the top action sequences and more peaceful ones where you can sneak your way through the area. Like in all First person Shooters, you will also get your share of rail shooting segments where all you have to do is shoot and destroy. I won't say more though, as a big part of the fun comes with the pleasure of discovery. Suffice to say that from beginning to end, it is just impossible to get bored. On a personal note, I just wish the very last playable sequence had been more memorable and a bit less disappointing. Other than that, I had a great time playing Killzone 3.
As you can see on the videos, Killzone 3 is once again another technical marvel on Sony's console. The lighting effects are sublime, the explosions nothing short of spectacular, and so are the weather effects, the character models and the different environments. It is hard to find any complaint, but some will probably see a bit of aliasing at times, a few framerate drops here and there and some very minor pop-up issues. To those people, I want to say you are just a bunch of nitpicky gamers! More than ever, the world you evolve in feels real, devastated as it is by the flames of war and death.
In Killzone 2, players criticized the lack of variety in the environments and it is obvious that it is not the case anymore in the third installment. you will go through the remains of a nuked city, a hostile jungle, a snowy Helghast facility and even a sort of huge scrapyard that looks like it belongs to Enslaved. There will be more, of course, but it would not be fair to tell you so I'll just stop here.
The soundtrack is also very effective, with great symphonic music and realistic sound effects. The ambient cacophony with the screams of men and the deadly bursts of machine guns conveys all the chaos of the battleground in a very troubling manner. Sometimes the brass instruments of the music score have a bit of a Star Wars feel to them, something that you can also notice when hearing some of the Helghast shuttles fly by. The voice acting is top notch too and makes all the characters even more believable as human/Helghan beings.
It is no surprise, Killzone 3 delivers a spectacular and entertaining experience on Playstation 3. Supported by impressive visuals and immersive situations, the game is a hell of a roller-coaster ride. True, sometimes the references to the third Reich could be a little less obvious, but it is soon forgotten thanks to a very good background. It will take you more or less than 7 to 8 hours to complete your first playthrough depending on the difficulty setting you choose and you will not have much time to breathe during that time. With multiplayer to add to the equation and the possibility to play the game with PS Move and in 3D, Killzone 3 is definitely a worthy sequel to its predecessor. And if you are anything like me, completing the game will only leave you with a craving for more, with Killzone 4.