For all the ambitious but ultimately speculative claims that Killzone 3 will usurp Call of Duty’s first person shooter throne, we’ve got one thing to say: it doesn’t. Those of you who will be buying Killzone 3 based on any such claims will be very disappointed, especially in light of the fact that Killzone 2 is still one of the best shooters of the current generation, and that there was every reason to hope that Killzone 3 would mark another considerable step forward for the series. As it turns out, it actually takes backward steps back in some of the most vital departments.
For all the criticism levelled at Killzone 2 (some warranted, others totally misplaced), there’s no denying that it didn’t shy away from attempting to be unique. The browns, greys and dull pastel colours are still some of the most gruesome and unimaginative, but in opting for its much talked about control scheme (floaty yet weighty) and the unflinchingly gritty realism, it managed to set itself apart from the competition just enough to make it a warranted purchase. Consider our surprise then when we pick up the controls and notice Killzone 3’s tight, composed control scheme. It certainly makes Killzone 3 that much easier to get to grips with, and we’d be lying if we said that we didn’t appreciate the change, but we also didn’t dislike Killzone 2 for this very reason. Guerrilla Games have now firmly planted their game much closer to the likes of the Call of Duty’s and Halo’s of this world – we’d even say that we get a growing sense of Wolfenstein from the Helghan rule – and with it will come the heightened expectations.
The much-vaunted ‘realism’ level has also taken a knock back, with Helghast soldiers taking a hefty amount of bullets to knock them to the floor in a bloody mess of severed arteries, and any sense of ‘fun’ can be lost in how Guerrilla bombard us with waves and waves of like-for-like enemies (“Where do you guys keep coming from” – so says lead Tomas Sevchenko towards the end of the game, quite), aggravating grenade spam, and intensely accurate fire from AI that will severely test your patience, diverting Killzone 3 in fell swoop towards a cover-based shooter with the pop-in/pop-out routine so adored by developers that leaves many of us overwhelmingly bored at its monotonous pace.
Fortunately, the cloud really does have a silver lining in Killzone 3’s case, since the vastly overhauled cover mechanics (hold ‘L2′) are smooth, integral to the game, and now actually useful! Additionally, Guerrilla make up ground with new squad mechanics and the AI of your fellow ISA troops, with clever design making sure that the team are not only surprisingly damaging against the Helghan defences (efficiently flanking, covering and splitting up), but also ensures that squad-mates will come to revive you with the medic zapper if you’re felled by the unstoppable force of bullets. It makes play much easier to bear and is a clever addition to combat that often succeeds in preventing the flow through the missions from stalling. Your team are not always going to be of assistance, of course – if you are to far from your group or the team are heavily beset by the hail of gunfire then you’ll simply restart at a checkpoint, so team-work is very much rewarded in a rudimentary but brilliant fashion.
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