Field Report - Killzone 3 Beta (Part One)

By Xav de Matos, Oct 29, 2010 4:30pm PDT It's odd to consider that we're already so deep into this generation of consoles that we're months away from the sequel to the one of the most controversial games on the PlayStation 3. Killzone 2 itself wasn't controversial, but the circus around the game's debut "Is it gameplay or a render?" trailer from E3 2005, was.

Fast forward to 2010, where developer Guerrilla Games have launched a limited beta for Killzone 3, due to hit stores in February 2011. Armed with one of the game's rare beta codes, I set off to play the next installment in--what is widely considered to be--Sony's premier first-person shooter franchise.

A quick, but important, caveat I should mention before you continue: I did not like Killzone 2. Although I found the world to be beautiful, I was not a fan of the gameplay. The weapons had too much heft to them and swing around wildly, enemies were glorified bullet-sponges in orange goggles, and (although beautiful) the environments could be drab and boring. Although Guerrilla corrected some of those control issues with patches, my copy of the game has sat neatly on my shelf.

I was apprehensive about playing Killzone 3. It also didn't help that the first time I did get hands on with the game, it was at an event touting the title's 3D features. As much as I understand that's the new "hotness" for Sony at this point in the generation, playing games in 3D and writing specifically about that fact, gives our average reader no reference point. While the tech is better, it's just not a good "value proposition" to reset the industry clock and focus our attention on how games look again. Remember launch titles? How many of them were great for gameplay versus being popular because they made your TV look pretty?

My concern with Killzone 3 wasn't about how "cool" it would look, Killzone 2 already impressed me. Does it play well? That's my--and hopefully, your--main concern.

Thus far, and I've played a dozen "bot" matches and two full, online "Warzone" matches, Killzone 3 plays exceptionally well. Gone is the lumbering appearance of a soldier barely able to lift his weapon and replaced by smooth and sensible motions. It's clean and precise. Like Killzone 2 before it, Killzone 3 is beautiful. Only this time, there's some color and life to the world around you.

"Warzone"--a multiplayer mode held-over from Killzone 2--is fantastic. In a nutshell, a Warzone match cycles between different types of objectives from team deathmatch, a single-flag CTF variant with a radio, assassination, king of the hill, and more. It's varied, intense, and (with controls that don't make me want to throw my controller in the garbage) a ton of fun. There are two maps in the beta: Frozen Dam, which can house games of Warzone or Guerrilla Warfare (Team Deathmatch) and Cornith Highway, a Warzone specific map.

The multiplayer, like Killzone 2, is class-based. Guerrilla has decided to fine-tune the classes from those found in Killzone 2, reducing the number of classes from seven to five. I'll go into more detail on the classes in part two of my write-up, next week.

The reason I primarily played against bots was due to some connection hiccups. Also, because so few people were given access to the game, it's sometimes difficult to fill entire games when the online multiplayer is working. This wouldn't be a huge problem, but Warzone maps are fairly sizable. Although bots are nothing new to Killzone, I wanted to make a quick point about them.

Bots in Killzone 3, for the lack of a better term, are jerks. Think about it like this: imagine Guerrilla tracked the gameplay style of those online players who always manage to get the right shot off and kill you in an intense firefight, every time. The same guy who--when playing as an engineer--sets up turrets at your team's primary spawning point only to grief you and your teammates. Killzone 3 bots are modeled after that guy, and they can fall in a well and die for it. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing. It will do wonders when training for those real situations, when practicing against bots on the hardest difficulty setting.

I'm going to go into more detail regarding the classes, unlocks, and the balance of the online component next week. What I wanted to touch upon here was whether or not Killzone 3 could rope me in with better controls (based on my personal preference, mind you) and a more lively world. On those two fronts, Killzone 3 delivers.

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