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Killzone 3 Review

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How ironic is it that we’re only the second month into the New Year and we’re already getting a game that’s contender for Best of the Year? Seriously, everything that could go right for Guerrilla Games’ Killzone 3 absolutely does, from the enthralling single-player campaign to the addictive multiplayer to the high-level presentation, which does wonders for the PlayStation 3 hardware.

Warning: spoiler alert ahead.

The game immediately follows up on the events that unfolded at the end of Killzone 2. With Radec and Visari wiped out, Sev and Rico, the remaining ISA agents, find themselves facing a slew of Helghast warships, loaded with soldiers that want to wipe out everything in their path. With only a few ISA operatives by their side (including a new female character named Jammer), Sev and Rico will have to give everything they’ve got in order to survive the battle.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the curtain, two men are fighting for control over the Helghast following Visari’s demise. Jorhan Stahl and Admiral Orlock are battling for control, without trying to butt each other’s heads so much that they draw pistols on each other. With tensions rising from the ISA, however, something’s got to give, and part of the fun of Killzone 3 is watching how it all unfolds.

To be fair, though, there’s still not enough emphasis on the heroes in the game. That isn’t to say you won’t identify with their cause and have fun kicking ass with them, because you will. But the villains have an unfair advantage here with their overpowered egos. Kudos to Guerrilla Games for hiring ideal voice actors to help push their dramaticness to new heights. Malcolm McDowell (as Jorhan) and Ray Winstone (as Orlock) push the envelope here. The rest of the voice acting is good, too. Some of you may even recognize James Remar from the old-school Warriors flick.

Heroic focus aside, we have yet to find a major flaw in Killzone 3. The first thing you’ll notice in the game is how well it plays. A few folks were complaining that precision was a mild problem in Killzone 2, but that never happened once with Killzone 3. The controls act with utmost precision, whether you’re zoomed in through scope view (with a click of the R3 analog button) or zoomed out and running-and-gunning for your life. Even when you’re driving a vehicle, such as the buzzsaw/go-kart combo or the newly introduced jetpack, you won’t find any problems. In fact, the jetpack handling is amongst the best we’ve seen in a game to date. Rather than clumsily relegating flight to a face button, you thrust with the L1 trigger, fire the pack’s gun turret with the R1 trigger, and thrust forward (you’ll need to in order to reach platforms) with X. It’s so much fun, you’ll never want to take it off. The turret and mech controls were spot-on as well, even if there were times we didn’t see an enemy sneak up behind us. (Damn Helghan Predator clones.)

Killzone 3 not only features great on-foot combat and vehicular sequences with a regular controller. It also gives you the option of doing so with the PlayStation Move. Whether you’re using the newly introduced Sharpshooter peripheral or going at it with the controller and supplementary unit, it works remarkably well, as you can aim with on-screen precision and hit your target almost every time. It only takes a few seconds to set up and calibrate, and then you’re on your way to killing fleets of Helghast.

You’ll need every ounce of skill you can muster, too, because Killzone 3 literally throws everything it can at you. One minute you’re fighting enemies in a zero gravity enabled control deck (where all hell breaks loose when you try to throw a grenade with precision), and the next you’re running for your life across a forest planet, with claw-bearing Predator Helghan chasing you like madmen. (And if they don’t kill you, the animal-like robo-tanks probably will.) This game doesn’t back off from its intense battles for a second, though the CG sequences do kind of give you a breather should you need it. (If not, you can always skip them.)

Along with a single player campaign that’ll take you several hours to get through (and ends with a bang, to say the least), Killzone 3 also features a terrific multiplayer set-up. Here, you’ll be able to challenge friends, manage squad members and upgrade to new weapons and classes over the course of battle. You can choose from various types of matches, including Guerrilla Warfare (deathmatch), Warzone (with missions that continuously change up) and Operations (where one team defends a point or person and the other tries to take it out). These multiplayer modes mix up wonderfully, and there’s plenty of opportunity to score major points off headshots, sneak kills and more. From there, you can rank up and unlock new goods, or select different classes to see how they fare, such as the Engineer, Marksman, Tactician, Infiltrator and Field Medic. They’re all worth trying out too, even if you’re the kind of person who prefers a rocket launcher to a revival kit.

What’s more, if you’re not quite ready for multiplayer, you can enter a Botzone and get your skills up. Here, you’ll work with and fight against AI controlled opponents with all weapons and skills unlocked. This is a great mode to try out if you’re not used to the fury of online competition, though having everything within reach is a little bit of a cheat. But don’t worry, we won’t tell if you don’t.

As Guerrilla Games pointed out in previous interviews, Killzone 3 utilizes 45 GB of the PlayStation 3’s 50 GB of disc space, which would translate to approximately eight discs on the Xbox 360. And believe me when I say that this game puts it all to good use. The graphics are absolutely phenomenal, making Killzone 2 look obsolete in the process. You’ll notice just how much detail is being poured into each stage just by wandering around for a bit. One stage in particular we have to point out is the Iceberg stage, which you’ll be able to play for yourself in the upcoming demo. The water is freakin’ phenomenal, even if you’re flying headfirst into it. The explosions are outstanding, especially on a stage where you’re battling a 40-story high boss, blowing out its ventilation shafts and then flying in to finish it off. Furthermore, the character animation is second to none. Try sneaking up on a few Helghan and perform a melee. You’ll see a number of up-close-and-personal animations that will knock your socks off, from a soldier getting his eyes gouged out to a knife slashing across their throat. The CG sequences look great too, even if there are occasional glitches entering the picture. Hopefully Guerrilla will have a day one patch to clean those up upon release. All of it simply looks insane, and will more than likely prompt those who don’t own a PS3 to snag one right away. For those that do, well, no need to wait.

One side note: Killzone 3 does come with 3D support, but you might want to play the game in 2D first before choosing that option. The 3D is fantastic from what we’ve seen thus far, but it’s easy to throw you off if you’re not used to it. We suggest going through the single-player campaign in standard view, then trying out Botzone in 3D before making the switch. It does help in the long run – and will keep you from dying so often if you know what to expect.

As for the audio, well, you already know the voice acting is up to snuff (complete with shouting Helghans galore). The music is equally impressive, with plenty of war themes to keep your ears busy. We like the sound effects too, especially the throttling gunfire of the Bolt gun. It’ll grow into one of your favorites, just so you can hear one pop out of the gun and into a Helghan soldier – and blowing him up seconds later.

Killzone 3 is a tour-de-force for the PlayStation 3, and one of the best action games you can play right now. It’s balanced across the board, whether you’re on your own in single player or Botzone, or letting everyone have it in multiplayer. Move over, Black Ops – the Helghan are moving in on your turf.

Amazing

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Robert Workman
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