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...

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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. 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]

From The Chatty

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    February 24, 2011 11:00 AM

    Comment on Killzone 3 Review, by Garnett Lee.

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      February 24, 2011 11:15 AM

      How about asking it more nicely, with a "please"?

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        February 24, 2011 11:28 AM

        Yea, learn some fucking manners Shacknews.

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          February 24, 2011 11:36 AM

          No, you WILL comment and you WILL like it myfasha.

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          February 24, 2011 11:49 AM

          Can mods nuke posts from shacknews?

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            February 24, 2011 11:49 AM

            also can shacknews hit the PRL?

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            February 25, 2011 6:04 PM

            can god conjure a rock so big he can't lift it

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      February 24, 2011 11:19 AM

      It would be cool if these links opened in a new window, like all other links within a chatty post do. :)

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        February 24, 2011 11:22 AM

        MMB is your friend (unless you're a dirty mac heathen).

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          February 24, 2011 11:43 AM

          my middle mouse / scroll wheel is too sensitive to click without scrolling madly around the screen.

          what is quite annoying is that not long ago I used to be in the habit of right click + open in new window, but I forced myself to get out of that habit very recently, only to have some of the links in the chatty not open in a new window any more. haha. :)

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            February 24, 2011 11:44 AM

            try some ctrl-click action

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              February 24, 2011 11:46 AM

              also a viable option.

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              February 24, 2011 11:47 AM

              lol. I know how to open new tabs, I'm just saying a bit of consistency is never a bad thing.

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          February 24, 2011 11:44 AM

          This. Open in new tab ftw

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        February 24, 2011 11:36 AM

        I believe they're aware of the desire and looking into if it's doable

        That said, what did your scroll wheel break? :D

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        February 24, 2011 11:37 AM

        Didn't ECO say that they'd be embedding truncated articles and such directly into the root post in the future? If those could be expanded, I don't think I'd even bother breaking out to the FP version.

        • ECO
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          February 24, 2011 12:42 PM

          ECO said no such thing. Some minion probably. That said, we have discussed putting the blurb or "DEK" in journo terms into the post for more context, but not the whole story.

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        February 24, 2011 11:57 AM

        Actually, I'd much prefer if nothing opened in a new/tab window unless I specifically do it myself.

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      February 24, 2011 11:24 AM

      Interesting review, g.lee. Did the scoring system (in MP) and movement remind you of Modern Warfare?

      When testing it out I kept thinking how it reminded me of MW, though with less annoying damage-jelly.

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      February 24, 2011 11:30 AM

      Looks like fun. The Move support seems to be well done, still not sold on 3D. I will have to pick it up soon.

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      February 24, 2011 11:36 AM

      Just to expand on something Garnett touched on, Killzone 3 feels less like the third installment of a trilogy and more like a second attempt to reboot a franchise.

      It sounds like the developers finally nailed everything down (well except for the lame brained story) but after two prior installments that delivered mixed results I can't muster up much excitement for it.

      If I didn't care for the first two games is Killzone 3 going to change my mind?

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        February 24, 2011 12:16 PM

        The demo felt like Killzone 2 with a kind of MW over-the-top story and events thing.

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      February 24, 2011 11:37 AM

      Oooo, these are now blue and the shacknews name is green huh? Interesting.

    • reply
      February 24, 2011 11:54 AM

      I like this highlighting of front page article comment threads. I also like the dark blue at the top and bottom now.

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      February 24, 2011 11:55 AM

      This review is pretty spot on. Though I actually enjoyed the jungle level quite a bit. I beat the game last night and enjoyed the hell out of it, but the pacing does seem a little off. I think they tried to cram too much variety especially with the vehicle segments. There's just too many of them, and while some were great, others were just plain frustrating. (end game spoiler) The fact that the game ends on a on-rails vehicle segment was such a completele letdown. It's probably the worst ending since Halo 2. The indoor combat before that was great though. I never at any point felt like there's too much shooting, since the gunplay feels great and is fun. I just wanted more of it.

      I agree that the game stops itself a few times from becomming an epic (for lack of a better word) experience, and that's a shame because the setup on some of these levels is pretty good. It always feels like it's on the cusp of exploding, but it never gets there. It's like the game has blue balls. Although on that one level where you're fighting that giant 4 legged machine thing was pretty cool. At least the on-foot part was.

      Overall, I really liked it and had a lot of fun. However, it had potential to become one of the best single player games of this generation. What's frustrating is that it's not mechanics or bugs that keep it from being that. It's the choices that were made that got away from it's best aspect, the shooting. Not that there's a total lack of it. It's just I wanted more. I haven't played the multiplayer yet, but I hope to get some time in tonight. Killzone 2's multiplayer was fun, so I'm hoping this is more of the same.

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        February 24, 2011 11:59 AM

        The ending of KZ3 can't possible be worst then the ending of Killzone 2

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          February 24, 2011 12:08 PM

          Prepare to be surprised :(

          And while the Radick fight was awful, the actual ending of Killzone 2 was not bad.

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            February 24, 2011 12:11 PM

            That last fight was the most frustrating battle I ever had in a FPS.

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              February 24, 2011 12:18 PM

              I didnt have a problem with Radick himself in Killzone 2. It was that damn shit right before it. I raged so many times. i quit playing for a few weeks, came back and did it in one shot.

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                February 24, 2011 12:40 PM

                Haha I did the same.

                I even got to this part of the game on Hard or medium and downscaled it one natch in order to finish the damn thing.

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              February 24, 2011 1:15 PM

              I thought the final fight was good challenging fun, except for the fact that they never tell you that you have to take out Radek's supporting troops before you can actually deal him any damage. I must've pumped thousands of rounds into that fuck before I gave up and went on gamefaqs.

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          February 24, 2011 12:12 PM

          (end game spoilers)

          The level was terrible, not the ending story wise. Though it's not like the story was good either. However, at least someone was shot in it. The fact that Killzone 3 ends on a terrible pew-pew on-rails space vehicle segment was disgusting. You aren't even shooting at someone, you're shooting a faceless ship and the antagonist is likely still alive. This game is amazing when you're shooting someone in the face. End it on that, or put your melee system into play and stab someone in the eye while kicking them in the balls and bashing their face into the wall.

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          February 26, 2011 1:52 PM

          Having watched all the cutscenes and the ending, KZ3's story has a much more cartoony, almost Uncharted or Gears of War adventure style feel to it and I don't think it suits the game. KZ2's tone seemed much more grim and serious. The principle Helghast in KZ3 were pretty weak characters/adversaries and nowhere near as imposing as people like Mael Radec from KZ2. There also weren't any really griping moments story wise like Jan Templar's exit in KZ2. The ending to KZ3 is indeed horrible; Halo 2 is an apt comparison.

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        February 24, 2011 1:44 PM

        i'm waiting on my 3d tv before i go out and buy this game =/
        i wanna play it in 3d!

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          February 24, 2011 1:58 PM

          If you are at all into 3D, this game does it really well. You don't realize the immersion until you turn 3D off and you see how flat the game looks without it.

          Also, compared to some other 3D games/movies, I have had hardly any eye fatigue when playing KZ3, even after 2-3 hours of straight 3D playtime.

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            February 24, 2011 2:09 PM

            thanks for the heads up man!
            normally i would have just bought it and played it, but i found out i can order a tv I've been wanting with best buy and well, I'm a patient man and will probably wait just to get that 3d experience.
            i even have the move! so I'll see if i can find that gun too.

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        February 25, 2011 3:21 AM

        I just beat the game tonight and am surprised that no reviews I've read mention how unfinished the story cut scenes feel. To me this is the primary thing that kept the game from being epic. It was a lot like watching a bad scifi movie. A lot of the cut scenes, especially the ones with a lot of action seem to be unfinished and poorly mixed and cut. It'll leave you thinking how'd they get there?, oh now we're doing this why? Why aren't they dead? Unlike a lot of the reviews I didn't feel like the game was too much go go go. I felt the pacing and the variety in the game was rather good. I did however feel that the cut scenes and the story let the rest down. Sometimes the cut scene would be full of action but the audio would just let it down by either being too quiet or not having the right music. And sometimes when the cut scene gets good and I'm thinking I can't wait to see how they get out of this one, magic now we're playing a new level and I don't know what happened. By the time I completed the game it had me thinking this is a good alpha build and I can't wait to play the final game when they polish up the cut scenes and add some of the missing footage to make it all flow together.

        I haven't played the multiplayer yet. Hopefully I'll get some time tomorrow to play it but as a single player only game I can only give it a 8/10. To me KZ2 felt more polished as a whole although I did like the core mechanics of 3 better.

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      February 24, 2011 12:07 PM

      I'm not sure I'd call the jungle level ill-advised. While its placement in the story left something to be desired, I thought the natural alien landscape was a nice break from the typical ruined cityscapes and industrial complexes from the second game.

      Totally agree about the flow of the story though. It was disjointed, like many parts were developed separately and then just glued together. It felt like the fighting was just there to drive you to the next cutscene, which would set up the next confrontation to drive you to yet another cutscene.

      I think you're right Garnett, lacking in confidence is the correct way to describe it. Either it doesn't trust itself, or it doesn't trust the player to be able to handle a narrative without having their hand held the entire time.

      Oh well, at least the Multiplayer is still awesome.

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      February 24, 2011 12:09 PM

      aww, i was hoping he would try it with Move + Sharp Shooter. he just merely mentioned support for them

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        February 24, 2011 12:14 PM

        I'm going to try the Move tonight and I'll post my impressions with it. If the Move works well then I'll probably get the sharp shooter attachment since it looks fucking awesome.

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          February 24, 2011 1:24 PM

          I've put maybe 3 or 4 hours into the campaign using the Move+navigator and while I'm enjoying it I'm still kinda struggling with the controls. What you gain in accuracy with the Move you lose in maneuverability.

          FWIW I'm using the default Move control settings. I should probably play around with them to see if I can get better results.

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            February 24, 2011 1:31 PM

            One day someone's going to figure out how to map both 'move' and 'look' to a single stick (with trigger modifiers to let the game know which one you mean) and leave the pointer out of the camera system entirely.

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            February 25, 2011 2:37 AM

            Just beat the game today with the move on hard and realized something when calibrating today. Instead of pointing to the approximate location of the targets which yield a rectangle(top left, lower right) I pointed to imaginary points to make a square. My imaginary top and bottom were off the screen. With this setup it'll make the move less sensitive to vertical movements so you don't end up staring at the sky or ground like I usually do when things get hectic. I would also recommend playing around with the deadzone settings. I like mine at 0.

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        February 24, 2011 2:38 PM

        Is there something about the sharpshooter that improves over the precision shot 3? The precision shot definitely looks better.

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      February 24, 2011 12:50 PM

      For anyone who's played 2 as well, how does it *feel*? I found KZ2's controls felt floaty and lagged. Is this improved for 3?

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        February 24, 2011 2:00 PM

        Vastly improved. The controls are much tighter than the second game.

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          February 24, 2011 2:22 PM

          Now I'm excited again!

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          February 24, 2011 3:06 PM

          after playing the beta, I gotta agree.

          controls feel great

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      February 24, 2011 4:21 PM

      Nice review and thanks for the Iwaggle link, I love in depth stuff like that!! I'll be using move me thinks.

      I do hope they patch in some button config options for the move above the demo though!!

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      February 24, 2011 7:08 PM

      Thanks for the review! I think clicking thumbnails should do a pop-up lightbox-y thing rather than leaving the page.

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      February 24, 2011 9:17 PM

      Loving the game, a must for any ps3 fps fan.

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      February 25, 2011 6:41 AM

      It's interesting that years and years after Killzone was released as "the Halo killer," it would seem that Guerilla is going to outlast Bungie and Halo. What will MS do in a world where Halo is progressively tarnished by sweatshop-like production schedules (ie., Crackdown 2)?

      Oh, sure, 343 Guilty Spark will try to keep the torch going after a respawn, but I think Guerilla may wind up killing Halo by the next release cycle because I doubt Microsoft's Halo-making facility's ability to generate compelling Halo's. To paraphrase a horrible movie, "You're good, baby, but Bungie's magic." Bungie's left the controller on the floor and I don't think 343 Guilty Spark is that good a player no matter how many precious jewels, lights, and Razer Onza stamps are on the controller...

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      February 25, 2011 6:52 AM

      Have gmd or abrasion played it yet?

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      February 25, 2011 2:56 PM

      Getting to the third game in a trilogy stands as quite a tautology.

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      February 25, 2011 6:01 PM

      Killzone 1 and 2 had horrible aiming. There was some kind of lag to the input; it was infuriating. Does K3 have this?

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      February 26, 2011 6:50 AM

      Single player is awesome, but only when the terrible cutscenes aren't rolling. It's almost as if they went out of their way to squeeze as much derp factor as possible into each one. Every character is pretty much just a big cliche, which would be fine if it weren't for the fact that the game is constantly trying to get you to be emotionally invested in said characters. It takes itself way too seriously, and the ill fitting grandiose orchestral score which constantly changes moods doesn't help. On top of all that, the cutscenes are kind of annoying to skip. Sometimes you can just press X to skip them. Sometimes you have to press Start and then Square. And sometimes, you can't seem to skip them at all. Single player would have been much better if they had just scrapped all the cutscenes and worked the plot info you get out of them into the gameplay instead.

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      February 26, 2011 1:44 PM

      I don't have a PS3 but the graphics and art style of this game are fantastic. Once we get out of this modern shooter phase, I think the next frontier will be sci-fi or near future settings. I really hope future games use killzone 2 and 3 as a standard. The quality of the game assets, guns, uniforms, the look of the vehicles, is very very impressive. I'd love a Battlefield style game that looks something like Killzone 3.

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        February 26, 2011 6:33 PM

        Unfortunately those graphics come at a cost. Single player runs at acceptable fps for the most part, but some of the larger multiplayer maps slow down to a crawl. I don't think the game even maintains an average of 30 fps on the most popular Warfare map, and I've had it slow down to ~10 fps with thick action (a few walkers fighting each other along with other players having a shootout in the area). The whole time I played it I kept thinking how much better it would look and run on my PC.

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          February 26, 2011 8:20 PM

          I totally would have bought a PC version of this game.

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      February 27, 2011 12:36 PM

      That Jungle level is the worst level I've played in some time. To Guerrilla, stealth is hard, leave it to those who specialize in it.

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        February 28, 2011 4:05 PM

        It struck me as trying to be Call of Duty. The past 3 CoD games have all had missions like that. At least the jungle had a very original look to it. Great atmosphere in that level, bad gameplay.