The PS3's flagship shooter returns with more tricks up its sleeve
There are games that take their respective franchises to dizzying new heights, and there are games that cause their franchises to slip into a semi-comatose state. Developer Guerilla Games' latest offering manages to achieve something rather odd — it does both. It's almost as if the term ‘mixed bag' was coined for the very purpose of describing Killzone 3, a game whose solo campaign exhibits signs of greatness even as it remains terribly generic, with a multiplayer component that threatens to be tremendously addictive lurking in the shadows, hiding behind the game's ‘bot mode' and magic tricks such as ‘Playstation Move support' and ‘3D'. Let's not forget about the voice talents of a terrifyingly convincing Malcolm McDowell and a preposterously out-of-place Ray Winstone either, since their individual performances epitomise the diverse quality of Killzone 3.
The Internet will have you believe that there's not much of a story in Killzone 3, and while there is a fair bit of evidence to substantiate that argument, ask yourself if there was much of a story in Killzone 2. Let's make this simple — there wasn't. Killzone 3 on the other hand is far less one-dimensional than its predecessor, giving us something to think about, even if just a little. The events of the game take place almost immediately after the events of Killzone 2, with the ISA being forced to beat a hasty retreat from the planet Helghan following the inadvertent ‘assassination' of its leader, Scolar Visari. As a result, a power struggle ensues in the Helghast hierarchy, with Jorhan Stahl (voiced by aforementioned McDowell) and Admiral Orlock (voiced by Winstone) vying for control of the planet. The war of words (and subsequently big, explosive things) stands out as the best part of Killzone 3's storyline, with Malcom McDowell's powerful portrayal of the borderline-insane Stahl being the highlight. The ISA angle on the other hand feels a little underdeveloped thanks to it being clothed in bravado, constant questioning of authority and pointless banter about kicking the backsides of ‘higs', and it's a real shame it takes up a lot more screen time. Fortunately, players will be able to take solace in Killzone 3's tight gun-play, which takes up even more screen time.
A lot of weapons make a comeback in Killzone 3 but there are some noteworthy additions as well (a silenced machine pistol and the WASP rocket launcher being the best of the lot) and the campaign does a good job of showcasing the usefulness of the new weapons with specific, tailored missions. A ‘brutal' melee attack is another addition that is sure to nauseate the weak-hearted, while the addition of vehicles is sure to go down well with fans (unless you're ultra-hardcore, of course). Missions range from frontal assaults and on-rails shooting to complex 3D platforming involving jetpacks, commandeering vehicles, and sneaky stealth missions — a fair bit of variety, indeed. Unfortunately, it's not very gripping despite the shooting being fun. The new environments add a decent amount of razzle-dazzle, but a lot of it, like the game engine itself, feels a little overused and recycled. So what makes the game stand out and set it apart from hordes of other shooters in the market? Well, for starters, Playstation Move Support. It works surprisingly well if you're willing to put up with a sore elbow and an aching arm after a session of play. And let's not ignore 3D support either, for there's nothing not to love about a duller picture and those awesome, dorky glasses.
Killzone 3 is available for the Sony PS3 from February 22, 2011.