Vita PreviewsKillzone: Mercenary Preview

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Killzone: Mercenary Preview

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Scheduled release date:

September 10, 2013




Guerrilla Cambridge

Number Of Players:




Release Date:

September 10, 2013

The PlayStation Vita is in dire need of a system-selling AAA title. For most of 2013, most believed that could be Killzone: Mercenary, the shooter that just might prove the significant capabilities of Sony’s new portable. The good news is that the Vita was made to better accommodate shooters; the PSP didn’t do a great job capturing the first-person action, while the dual analog sticks of the new handheld are a godsend. The question is— is this indeed the game Vita owners have been waiting for?

After spending plenty of time with the beta test, my answer would have to be an optimistic “probably.” Forget the crushing disappointment of Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified and the only better-than-average Resistance: Burning Skies. Developer Guerrilla Cambridge has designed a game that may lack the narrative breadth of the Killzone entries for consoles, but excels in the realms of visual achievement and general FPS quality. As a mercenary for hire, you will tackle a wide variety of missions that pits player against player (ISA vs. Helghast). The settings aren’t all that diverse but the combat is slick and refined.

Despite the Vita’s setup, some may still worry about the control. But don’t. It controls just fine and in fact, it doesn’t feel that far removed from playing a shooter with a standard controller. The only downside in my eyes is the motion-controlled aiming, which is reminiscent of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. It’s just not as fine-tuned as I would like and it could take a while to get accustomed to it. Still, the rest of the fast-paced adventure works very well; you’ll be ripping off headshots and tossing grenades as you normally would with the Dual Shock gamepad in your hands.

As for the touch controls, they work decently enough and they aren’t overdone. A simple, quick gesture is all that’s necessary for executing a nasty melee kill, and the touchscreen is also utilized for pulling levers and participating in a hacking mini game. Tapping the back screen to run doesn’t jive with the flow of the game, in my opinion, but you can turn that off. These are the only drawbacks worth mentioning, as you will find that, for the most part, Mercenary plays beautifully. It’s also cool that, in true merc style, everything you do earns you money, which can be spent on plenty of great equipment and upgrades for your character.

Don’t forget that the game itself is gorgeous. This is precisely what fans would expect from Guerrilla: A wonderfully appointed and detailed environment, with the Vita’s prodigious capability allowing for crisp, clean textures. Like I said, the variety isn’t all that fantastic, but this is only a beta, after all. What I have seen is very special from a portable standpoint, and the final product should redefine the nature of quality visuals in the portable gaming space. That’s a bold statement but what did you expect? If you had received anything less, you would’ve been disappointed, right?

There’s a fantastic pacing to the multiplayer experience, primarily because Guerrilla has delivered a technically impressive, mechanically solid, ultimately engaging FPS. It’s too bad that there’s so much pressure on the game, though, because even the slightest shortcoming will be amplified. I’m hoping the expectations aren’t too crazy high for this one, even if it should fulfill moderately optimistic expectations. It’s fast, fluid, well-paced, with solid AI and a great arsenal of weapons, and it should be a great addition to the Vita’s library. In fact, in 2013, it might be the best addition.

8/15/2013 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (10 posts)

Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 11:12:32 PM

I've been wanting a quality FPS game for my Vita. Hopefully this one is it.

I doubt, however, even if this game scores better than KZ3 we won't see much more than a small hiccup in Vita sales for Sony. Aren't most gamers who are paying attention to this sort of thing already tapped out for a next-gen console?

Last edited by Temjin001 on 8/15/2013 11:12:48 PM

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Thursday, August 15, 2013 @ 11:29:02 PM

I've been looking forward to this. Vita needs a a great AAA system seller. Well, another one besides Uncharted that is.

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 12:07:08 AM

I don't think this will make gamers response, unless a lot of those gamers are waiting for a killer fps game. CoD didn't exactly do anything for the Vita. Granted, it wasn't exactly quality, but I thought it should've done a bit of influencing. For Killzone to make an singnificant impact, it has to be a bigger name, and I'm not sure it lives up to titles like Uncharted, Gran Turismo, or God of War quiet yet in terms of popularity and known presence.

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 12:53:43 AM

Sales wise, I don't think the KZ franchise is close to either of those 3 other properties. It also isn't entirely adored by critics either. It's latest outing holds only an 84 on Metacritic. I suppose the same thing could be said of GT5, but the GT series seems to be driven by a different sort of base.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 8/16/2013 12:53:58 AM

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 1:07:54 AM

well i hope it does well i'll get it once i have a vita soon hopefully.

happy gaming =)

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 1:21:21 AM

I hope so, because it will be a great FPS. However the install base for the Vita isn't that good. Hopefully if this scores an 8.5 or higher gamers on the fence will take the plunge.

Sony is spread thin right now hence not enough AAA games for the Vita. 2014 and 2015 will be great years for the Vita. If remote play shines there will be a spike in sales because of that as well. It's going to take a God of War or GTVita scoring a 9 to get people to start buying that were in the never going to buy camp. Also, with the PS4 coming out money is tight. Hopefully this rumored PS4/Vita bundle is real.

Anyways, KZM looks great and will be mine D1. The Vita rocks and it's the best purchase I have made in a long time. Dragon's Crown IS a AAA title big time. It is so good on the Vita! The OLED drips with perfection. One of the best games on the Vita right now. Very deep and satisfying! FFXHD will be great as well. Will the Vita ever do 3DS sales no, but it doesn't have to. I am praying that the remote play with the PS4 works to perfection as I am very excited for this feature. Time is going by fast and the PS4 will be here before we know it.

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 3:58:13 AM

I don't think it'll push system sales (hope to be wrong) but I still can't wait to play this. Looks like we'll finally have a quality FPS to take on the go. Resistnace: Burning Skies wasn't bad but it wasn't the AAA release I had hoped for either. This game seems to be on the right track though.

Last edited by Gamer46 on 8/16/2013 3:59:14 AM

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 4:57:52 AM

the future of the vita hangs off the success this!
lets hope, well, lets hope this isent another resistance burning skies!

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 10:12:31 AM

I have been playing the closed beta since day-one...and I agree with everything you said in the article. One thing not mentioned are the maps...which are really good. They are the right size form a horizontal perspective with plenty of hidden nooks to hide in and separate areas of the vertical component of the maps is designed well. Also, and this surprised me, when playing it is pretty easy to see the other players...even when they are far away.

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Friday, August 16, 2013 @ 10:15:32 AM

Another thing...I really like that there is a strategy component to knifing an opponent. Knifing an opponent takes time which leave you open to death, but if you succeed you get to view all players for a limited amount of do I go for the knife kill and get the bonus, or just run and gun? Same thing with the vanguards that drop around the I take the time to access the vanguard to get the bonus or do I find a hidden place nearby and kill opponents as they try to access the vanguards?

Last edited by butcherknife on 8/16/2013 10:16:10 AM

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