Killzone 3 (single player) User Review
I don’t qualify myself as a particularly good critic of stories and FPS multiplayer components so these elements are entirely omitted from this review, along with the Move controller impressions.
Visually, KZ3 is a real stunner. Serving as another example of a game developer really choosing to get behind the power of the PS3, this game is a technological feat that manages to usurp the already tall order from their prior KZ2 outing. The massive amount of on-screen technical data can be so dauntingly magnificent that the rectangular TV that tries to encapsulate it all feels barely adequate to contain such a chaotic and exhilarating experience. The animation is superbly detailed and convincingly life-like. Really, aside from some aliasing issues that crop up, sometimes often and other times not so often, and an occasional low res texture, this game is as visually sound as we could have hoped for from this hardware generation. Stylistically, for better or worse, gone is the filmic analog look from the prior game, and in it’s place is a high contrast, vividly detailed, oftentimes bursting with heavy effects and color, visual presentation.
FPS games have been handling about as great as we could expect from standard game controllers of today, and KZ3 isn’t an exception. The Dual Shock 3, once again, serves as a great interpreter of our inputs and the on-screen action. Fans of KZ2 will notice that the game no longer has the weighty feeling controls. It seems bizarre that GG would make such a move considering how aggressively they stood behind their weighty control convictions during KZ2’s release window. Enough so they successfully rallied a good portion of supporters to their cause; yet, in KZ3, they then bow down their decidedly more artistic expression of the interaction to a more FPS friendly responsiveness convention that is much more reminiscent of basically every other FPS out there. So while the feel is different this time around, the play is still great; yet, I still can’t help but wonder why GG didn’t attempt to placate their existing ardent supporters by offering a configuration option that would enable these “weighty controls.” Aside from this, their trademark FPS cover system from KZ2 returns for another round. This time it manages to be a bit more flexible than from before. Now players have the option to detach from being locked to a wall cover barrier while crouching–the lack thereof proved annoying in KZ2–a player now simply holds back on their movement stick for about a half second and they’re freed from the cover’s grasp. Related to this system, a handful of new maneuvers have been added. Slide to cover: just as it sounds, while running, nail the crouch button within a few feet’s distance of cover and you’ll slide to cover, effectively getting your head out of harms way while trying to close the gap between you and your cover. Vault over cover: just as it sounds, a player can now vault over their cover location. Both of these new control conventions are appreciated. Successfully making this cover system feel a bit more dynamic from before for those who choose to utilize them. With these upgrades comes an expanded melee system. Now players are treated to a more visceral sequence of inflicting Helghast pain while a scripted inter-personal takedown gesture plays out. Not a big game changer, but it can be fun to watch.
The sound is superbly executed. Crisp clearly audible sounds bang out riveting effects, easily convincing me that these guns sound like their real life artillery reference models. Grenades explode as one would expect followed through with a showered down pattering of airborne shrapnel on the surface tops. The voice work is usually good with the help of some Hollywood professional voice talent. Only occasionally did I encounter an off timed line. The soundtrack is also Hollywood caliber, sometimes reminiscent of John Williams Star Wars. The music fittingly supports the on-screen action and dramatic story sequences. It’s great quality stuff.
For all of KZ3’s premium presentational quality, the gameplay itself isn’t particularly extraordinary. Basically, those familiar with FPS games from the likes of CoD will tread through an experience that isn’t far removed from prior FPS outings. The AI is usually great, and the overall play tactics of KZ3 feels a good notch more detailed than the rest of the competition but there isn’t much here particularly innovative to this already heavily saturated genre. And even with the Helghast’s glowing red eyes, sometimes I found myself struggling to spot nestled Helghast amongst backdrops that are ultra detailed with a huge abundance of glowing, and, or, saturated light. It’s a relatively minor complaint and, if anything, it can be attest to just how visually detailed the game is. Also new to KZ3’s play, a host of great new weapons, a convincingly dynamic feeling jet pack, and a wider variety of enemy types. The game also boasts a number of on-rails-vehicle segments. They’re a nice change of pace from the usual play, but aside from being a spectacular presentation of explosiveness and unparalleled scale, you’re basically engaging in gameplay that reminds me of ‘on rails’ arcade classics from over a decade past, no necessarily bad, but not particularly progressive.
With skipping most of the story segments, KZ3 doesn’t have a lengthy campaign. Referencing my recorded play time from the menu of the entirety of my single player experience on normal difficulty, the gameplay clocks in right under four and a half hours. I’m sure this experience would be reasonably longer for those sitting through the cutscenes. And there’s added value for those who choose to play this game with a buddy, because, this time, KZ3 offers a splitscreen co-op campaign experience. A nice addition that unfortunately isn’t carried over to online co-op play. It’s also worth mentioning there’s a healthy selection of PSN trophies for collectors out there.
KZ3 is a strong PS3 exclusive that treats fans to a premium quality FPS experience that is sure to impress many with it’s spectacular, oftentimes jaw dropping good looks, myself included. While it would seem the shortness of this campaign would come as a disappointment, there’s no denying that seemingly every footstep taken is one traversed through intense, near exhaustive, firefights with an undeniable presentational budget that I’d assume clocks in somewhere to the tune of multiple double digits of millions of dollars. Which is something I wouldn't want to experience only once. It’s a worthy successor to KZ2 and, overall, it manages to outstrip or improve upon it in many ways. With a cliffhanger ending and surprising closing sequences, I eagerly await a sequel. Congrats GG on a job well done.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.