Killzone 3 Review

Getting to the third game in a trilogy stands as quite an accomplishment. For Killzone, though, it's been an unusual story. The original game feels like a lifetime ago, and it stands out in my memory mostly for trying to do more than the PS2 hardware could handle, resulting in a game that didn't play all that well. The PlayStation 3 cured that problem for Killzone 2, but its release timing left it in the shadow of Resistance 2; a situation made all the more ironic when it turned out to be the better of the two. Everything seems to finally align for Killzone 3.The developers have the hardware to match their aspirations, and with the added benefit of one game already on the PS3, they know how to really use it. It is the game of the moment and won't face an in-house rival for players, particularly of importance for multiplayer. Killzone 3 takes advantage of the situation with a single-player campaign that while campy sci-fi never lacks for excitement and a well-developed multiplayer suite that should become an online staple for PS3 players. While it's nice to have the background to the series, it turns out to be fairly inconsequential to Killzone 3. About all I got out of having played the prior two games was that the names of the two fictional factions at war already sounded familiar to me. It's every bit as easy to learn what's going on from the cinematic sequences as having played Killzone 1 and/or 2. Fanatical fascism punctuated by bloody internal power struggles makes the Helghast easy to recognize as the "evil empire" to fight against.

Killzone 3 paints a dark sci-fi vision of war

But beyond setting a stage, Killzone doesn't get too caught up in grandiose designs. It's an action game, one that from start to finish seeks to make every moment more intense than the one before it. The story stitches them together, but the adrenalin rush of the firefights makes the memories. So though Killzone 3 continues the story of Sev, a Special Forces soldier for the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance (ISA), it stands completely on its own. Far more than story, its unrelenting action defines Killzone 3. An opening section allows a little time to get acquainted to the controls while foreshadowing a pivotal moment from later in the game, but thereafter if the controller is in-hand, the bullets are flying. This plays to Killzone 3's strengths. The game hit its stride for me in those extended moments when I wasn't thinking about anything other than move-cover-find the angle-shoot. For the bulk of the game, Killzone 3 effectively kept me in that zone. In the predominant military-industrial settings of the game the action thrives. Killzone 3 uses a single button to go into a crouch or take cover. This sets up a very fluid rhythm to the action. I'd hit a good position, get in a few shots, and right as the enemy drew a bead on me, slip to the next spot. Pacing missteps trip up the moment-to-moment fun of the gun battles in places. I'm not of the camp that thinks the game can't "be at 11" the whole time. That's not the issue. The problems are two-fold. Firstly, possibly to avoid fatigue, the game takes a very staccato tempo. The action never stops coming, but it hits in short, intense bursts. It's very easy to press pause between them, gather back up, and go forward. And while that's nice, it wrecks any potential sense of continuity. focalbox In the bigger picture, Killzone 3 seems to lack confidence in its core competencies as a shooter. It rarely lingers to allow the firefights it actually does quite well the time to really blossom. Just about the time they get good, it's off to something else. For instance, not long into the game, an ill-advised jungle level completely derails the gathering momentum up to that point. Likewise, though very well done, vehicular interludes become something of a mechanical distraction from the main event. And when there are good ones, like the very fun to use glider jet packs, I felt unfulfilled by not getting to go back to them enough. Often Killzone devolved into a slide, down which I felt shoved without time to spread out and enjoy the effort put into every square inch of the world I was passing by. That trouble does not disrupt multiplayer in the least. Warzone, one of the most unheralded online modes of any shooter out there, returns in Killzone 3. By randomizing team-based objectives throughout each match it creates a dynamic currently unrivaled in other online multiplayer shooters. Here too, though, some avoidable problems hold the experience back. Though by no means alone on this count, Killzone 3 lacks a proper tutorial to familiarize players with the parts of the online game that go beyond shoot the other guy. So expect to see medics running around oblivious to the fact that they ought to be reviving downed comrades and similar annoyances. In its defense, Killzone 3 does include a full bot mode for playing competitive modes offline. Why this doesn't include a simple explanation of how to contribute online is a mystery. As a flagship PlayStation 3 title, Killzone 3 also boasts strong support for 3D TVs and the Move motion control system. Both work as advertised and enhance the game according to your appreciation for the respective technologies. (Move requires a little more fiddling around to get dialed-in. Check out this video by iWaggle3D for some tips. It also benefits greatly from the added stability and ease of handling provided by the PlayStation Move Sharp Shooter accessory coming out alongside the game).For all but those looking to show off their new toy, neither make a compelling argument for or against the game. But Killzone 3 needs no such help. It is now, particularly for those who play online, the new reigning king of PS3 shooters.
[This Killzone 3 review is based on a master copy of the final retail game provided by Sony played on a retail PlayStation 3]