Killzone 3 review
So what is the Helghan word for interesting, because I would like to know... wait, there isn't? Never mind...
Developer: Guerilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
It was inevitable – the third console instalment to the Killzone franchise, only this one took a couple of years to make, as opposed to five years. To cut to the chase, Killzone 3 is Killzone 2 with more of an emphasis on the story and felt like you were in control of a human soldier instead of a Helghast soldier. I offer Killzone 3 some props, and it seems to be a bit more exciting. Unfortunately, it's still not quite... there, you know? Like, it's almost exciting, but not quite.
Taking place six months after the events of Killzone 2, the ISA are left on planet Helghan, but with the killing of Emperor Visari, the ISA are at least winning the war... Enter Jordan Stahl, the man behind new Helghast gear. Basically, the Helghast are now equipped to be even stronger than they were in the last game, and with a new leader and some hardships between ISA troops, the story will at least offer some twists and turns, and despite seeming either unintentionally hilarious (such as the infamous Helghast meeting scene) or just cliched, it'll at least keep you interested, and that's one step above the last game's “story”, though it still could've been better. The timeline jumps all over the place, unable to make up its mind – does it was to take place straight after Killzone 2, or does it want to take place six months down the line? I'm not saying “pick one or the other”; I'm saying “make the passage of time more linear so that it doesn't end up feeling confusing”. That, and there are elements that are touched upon in the story; sadly, touched upon is as far as they get, and as they seem to be rather important to the overall experience, it ends up making the story feel disjointed. Despite having about an hour's worth of cutscenes as opposed to the whopping ten minute cutscene total in the last game, it feels like some more effort could've been put into it. Overall... I'll be honest in saying that the story sucked at what it tried to accomplish, but as far as laughing material is concerned, it's not half bad...
For the most part, Killzone 3 plays like Killzone 2. If you're seeking a refresher course, simply put, it is a first person shooter where you go from Point A to Point B, shooting enemy soldiers while keeping yourself in check. Your arsenal consists of machine guns, pistols, shotguns, sniper rifles and the ever so awesome flamethrower. You can snap in and out of cover to give yourself a little bit of an advantage during segments of heavy fire, and – seriously, if you don't know how first person shooters work, then please move out of your rock, because first person shooters are all over the place and you should have played at least five by now.
As I've mentioned in the introduction, the controls have improved. No longer does it feel like you're controlling a Helghast soldier; now you feel like a soldier from Earth! It feels like you have some armor, but not overkill like the Helghast. What I mean is that control feels light, and the aiming is smooth. No longer do you have to fiddle with sensitivity and make tiny little nudges to get the aiming right; it's all a lot easier to do. You also don't have to hold the crouch button while in cover; now you can just snap into cover, and stay until you press crouch again.
In terms of enjoyment, at first, it'll seem very familiar, sans the fact that cutscenes occur more often. You'll be going through cookie cutter levels that have you killing Helghast soldiers and destroying machinery. Nothing that's really out of the ordinary, and however very well made it may seem, it doesn't help the fact that it can cure insomnia, as everything you go through is about as exciting as a tour around a cider mill. Sure, the AI could kick your ass in two seconds flat, especially on the harder difficulties where one or two bullets could end your life instantly... seriously, who wants a game where, if you get shot once or twice period, you die.. especially as shots can come from behind!? This may seem exciting as you'll always feel the need to check everywhere in case stray bullets whiz by, but after an hour, it just becomes bothersome, and eventually, it goes right back to being boring.
However, the last two levels are *bleep*ing fantastic. Seriously, THIS is what I've been looking for while playing through ALL of the Killzone games; some *bleep*ing excitement! Lots of soldiers to gun down... I don't have ADD or anything, because the other levels had a lot of enemies to kill, but the last two levels seemed to have constructed things ever so meticulously that it comes across as awesome in every sense of the word.
Sometimes, you'll be treated to some on rails vehicular segments where you get to be a badass and blow everything up – not to mention, there are a couple of jetpack segments where you fly around and shoot things down. Sounds pretty cool, but the main drawback to these is the lack of time spent with them. Each of these moments are very brief, just long enough to elicit some joy, but not long enough to elevate it to the “*bleep* yeah this is awesome”level of excitement.
What sealed the deal for the campaign would be the pacing. Oh no, not in terms of difficulty, because it definitely keeps a reasonable pace for difficulty. What I am referring to is that cutscenes often work their way into gameplay segments, popping up like morning wood. Just as you're kicking some ass, BOOM, CUTSCENE! And remember what I said about the story? These will become intrusive very, very quickly, ESPECIALLY the ending, as it just swings by to tell us “okay guys, Killzone 4 will be out in 2013, so stay tuned!”, and right as we end the epic final battle of the game... just when the game finally pulls off something very exciting, it decides to end it. It's as if Guerilla Games doesn't want you to be too excited... hmm...
Well, at least the multiplayer is still up to snuff, right? Absolutely, as in, it's not about to replace Warhawk or MAG, but it's a fun little distraction while on the way to the platinum trophy. For the most part, it works a lot like Killzone 2's multiplayer. You have the same classes, however, there are some inbalances to expect, like how the medic... well, that's probably all he's useful for against overly powerful infiltrators. You also have some modes to choose from, although you're restricted to three modes (Guerilla Warfare [standard deathmatch mode], Warzone [within time limits, complete certain objectives], and newcomer Operations [basically the same as Warzone, but it's just one side doing objectives; the other side has to prevent them from completing objectives]), and levelling up classes is a hell of a lot less grindy... now, . There are maps that resemble parts of the campaign, though they're a bit twistier than those found in Killzone 2.
But the biggest change is the focus. Instead of tactically flanking enemy troops, instead, it's the standard Call Of Duty style, in which you run, spot somebody, and let it rip. I mean, I guess it's fun if you have ADD, but if I wanted to tempt such a demon, I'd go and play Call Of Duty instead! What I mean is that it doesn't have that distinct Killzone feel. Now, the campaign sure as hell did until the last couple of levels, but the multiplayer is less Killzone (with emphasis on playing smart) and more Call Of Duty (with emphasis on playing dumb). In a way, I actually wish it was the other way around... but I can't always have my own way, I guess... Actually, if I did, I'd be out of a job and would have to pay even more attention in my university lectures, taking even more detailed notes so that I can get absolutely perfect test scores and up my chances of getting a job as an engineer... so keep making mistakes, developers, because it's fun pointing them out. Okay, not on purpose, but... you know what I mean!
But we all know where the money went - the graphics. Yep, these graphics are beautiful. Gorgeous, even. The textures are very detailed, managing to give the illusion of realism with no problems whatsoever. The variety of environments is an improvement over Killzone 2's factories and... more factories, with some jungles and snowy wastelands to go through, and the colors used for these levels are incredibly vibrant and exuberant, making the levels fun and interesting to look at. Some animations, however, may look a bit stiff, but for the most part, they're good enough.. really, it's like an anime in that while it looks fantastic, animation is mixed between stiff and half assed, and fairly fluid, but it doesn't make the overall presentation suffer much. I've also noticed that some parts further along the line only appear when you get to a certain distance... this is what I expect from a sandbox game, not a linear first person shooter that should be setting the benchmark for the aesthetic of console graphics! Yes, I realise that most of what I've said in this paragraph has been copied and pasted from the graphics section of the Killzone 2 review, but aside from colors and some draw distance issues, they're about the same, really, but can you really blame them? Killzone 2 had fantastic graphics too, but some environment changes were nice... although the draw distance issues may have come from hasty development... Killzone 2 was released only two years ago, while the gap between 1 and 2 was about five years! Keep this in perspective, folks!
As much as I would love to do the same for the sound section, I'd rather not, because voice acting is a lot more important now that Guerilla decided to put some emphasis on story, and voice acting can make it or break it. Does the voice acting make the story laughable, or just plain crap? Is it all a waste of talent? Well, it brings me great pleasure to say that it is a case of wasted talent, as the voice actors give the Helghast Empire a surprising amount of character, but through paying attention, it's also a case of making it laughable. The Helghast meeting scene wouldn't have worked as well as it did if the voice acting wasn't as good as it was. The ISA also have decent voicework supporting them, but it never makes their cutscenes anymore interesting than your typical first person shooter cutscenes – fillerific! As for the soundtrack, it's par for the course, in which the scores are more epic than the game itself, and it really shows how awesome the final two levels are. Ambiance, however, is the name of the game, because they're... pretty forgettable tracks, unfortunately. I guess only games like God Of War and Lords Of Shadow can provide overly memorable epic tracks with lots of ambiance.
Like its predecessor, Killzone 3 meant well. However, it also ended with a somewhat above average end result that has pretty graphics, epic soundtrack and good multiplayer... topped off with everything else being mediocre at best, especially the story. There was a lot of potential to make the story fantastic, but instead, it took the intrusive run of the mill military story route. Seriously, Kojima makes this stuff look easy. I suggest that Guerilla starts taking their time with the story writing, trying something more interesting with the vehicles and jetpacks, and – for the love of god – just go all out with the campaign in terms of designs, set pieces and pretty much everything else!
Also, before I give the letter grade, allow me to... cover my ass. No, I was not paid by Microsoft or Nintendo to post this review. I'm just a first person shooter fan who was impressed by Killzone 3's technical feats, but was rather unimpressed by how safe the campaign was, and how intrusive and decidedly average the story was, especially when this game got hyped up so badly. Even after disregarding the hype, I still found myself unimpressed. Also, before you say that this review is biased, no shit this review is biased – it's a review! Good god, if you want an unbiased review, go onto Wikipedia! THAT is what an unbiased review is... and don't drop any site names and Youtube reviewers, because they're all biased, in which they're a slave to their opinions! With that said, here's your damn letter grade!
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