Posted on February 3, 2011, Ron Whitaker Killzone 3 Review
When it comes to games on the PlayStation 3, very few compare to Killzone 2. Sure, the Uncharted games were up there, but more than any other title, Killzone 2 kind of summed up the system for me. With that in mind, you’ll understand how excited I was to find a review copy of Killzone 3 on my doorstep fully a month prior to release.
Killzone 3 finds us back on the war-torn planet of Helghan, just after the events that took place at the close of Killzone 2. After a short foreshadowing of events to come, we’re right back in the familiar boots of Sergeant Sevchenko. But does the experience live up to the hype?
Killzone 3 (PS3 [Reviewed])
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: February 22, 2011
The first thing that struck me about Killzone 3 was the level of polish it exhibits. This game has been touted as one the best to ever hit the PlayStation 3 platform, and it’s obvious that Guerrilla wanted to make sure that they delivered something worthy of such a designation.
We’re used to fairly epic vistas from Killzone 2, but Helghan feels much larger this time around. Not only that, but it now has vegetation, caves, tunnels, and all sorts of fun places to creep around. Graphically, this is one of, if not the best looking game on PS3. Helghan is brought even more to life in this iteration, and the aftermath of the nuke that Visari dropped on his own city is plain to see.
But let’s face it, graphics aren’t everything. So let’s talk about gameplay. The Killzone games have always had a great feel to them. When you shoulder a heavy weapon, it has a tangible weight. Unlike Call of Duty or Halo, you don’t feel like a super-soldier. More than anything, you feel like just another guy trying not to get killed on some god-forsaken planet, far from home.
Killzone 3 retains this great feel, and even ups the ante by providing a number of missions that aren’t your typical “go here, kill that” fare. Many games offer stealth missions, but rarely are you so hamstrung by your equipment that stealth is not just the only option, but a necessity.
In what is by far my favorite mission of the game, you’ve been stuck on Helghan for months, avoiding Helghast patrols with a small group of ISA soldiers who’ve survived. Your commander sends you to activate an uplink in the wreckage of an ISA cruiser, and cautions you not to be seen on your way there. This order is reinforced by the semi-automatic silenced weapon you’re given. While I don’t want to give the mission away, I’ll simply say this: Shoot the wrong guy first, or miss, and you’ll have more Helghast swarming you than you can shake a stick at.
Of course, there is also the jetpack. We’ve all seen the Helghast flying around with their jetpacks, and yes, you get to pilot one. They’re a bit twitchy, but man, are they fun. Jetpacks are a little sparse in the campaign, but you can get your fill of them in multiplayer, which we’ll discuss a bit later.
Overall, the campaign in Killzone 3 is a solid piece of work, although it does sport a fairly weak ending. Again, I’m not one for spoilers, but let’s just say that Guerrilla is probably well aware of what game they’ll be working on next, and it’s got a ’4′ in it. The Killzone 3 campaign also sports a few missions that feel arbitrarily hard, and sometimes you’ll find yourself hoping you get lucky enough make it through, although the difficulty does seem to even out overall.
Before we move on to multiplayer, let me take a minute to extol the outstanding voice work that appears in Killzone 3. Malcolm McDowell is his usual genius self as Chairman Stahl, and the conflict between him and Ray Winstone’s Admiral Orlock is extremely well-executed. We’ve got a new Sev, but the voice is similar enough to the previous one that it’s almost not noticeable.
Once you’ve pounded through 8 hours of campaign, head on over to the multiplayer side of things, where you can frag your enemies in three different gameplay modes. First up is Guerrilla Warfare, which is really a new name for Team Deathmatch. You simply have to kill a set number of enemies before they kill that many of your team.
The second mode is Operations. This is the sole new multiplayer mode, but it’s an absolute blast to play. It almost feels like a level in the campaign, as your team must complete a series of mini-missions. The Helghast are trying to defend a facility as the ISA attempt to take it over and blow the dam it protects.
Finally, we have Warzone. Exactly like the mode from Killzone 2, Warzone offers up five mini-missions each round that your team must try to complete before the opponents complete their objectives. Objectives include search and destroy, capture and hold, and others.
All three of these modes can also be played in Botzone, which is an offline mode featuring up to 15 AI -controlled bots. It’s an excellent way to acquaint yourself with the weapons and maps before leaping into the online scene.
Also like Killzone 2, players can unlock upgrades in one of five classes. An Engineer can repair ammo dispensers, turrets, and other valuable hardware, as well as deploy turrets. Marksmen can cloak and use sniper rifles, as well as obscure themselves and teammates on radar. Tacticians can capture alternative spawn points and recon enemies. Infiltrators can disguise themselves as the enemy, wreaking havoc from behind their lines. Finally, Medics can heal allies and revive downed teammates.
This should all sound pretty familiar to Killzone 2 players, and that’s fine, because the multiplayer in that title worked pretty well, just like Killzone 3′s does. It’s a fun, exciting offering that will likely entice you to spend far more time on it than the eight hours the campaign requires. The only downside is that it seems to favor the team that’s ahead, and coming from behind to win matches feels like an almost insurmountable task. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in today’s online world it could mean that servers won’t stay populated nearly as long as you’d like, and you’ll soon be looking for a new multiplayer experience.
Although it has been hyped to the sky, Killzone 3 delivers on much of the promise it has had since we first saw it revealed. Everything that worked great in the previous installment has survived, with some of the systems being tweaked. These tweaks have almost universally resulted in improvements. The campaign is a workmanlike 8-hour affair, and while that’s a bit short for some, it feels about right in practice. Plus, you can also play the campaign in split-screen co-op, which is a nice bonus. The multiplayer has the potential to be a lot of fun if people buy into it like they did with Killzone 2.
Much like its predecessor, Killzone 3 is a game that pretty much every PlayStation 3 owner should have in their collection. It’s big and flashy, but it delivers on so many levels that you’d be a fool not to give it a go.
- Great graphics and visuals
- Retains the same solid gameplay feel that Killzone 2 had
- Good multiplayer offering
- Split-screen local co-op
- Doesn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken
- Weak ending
- Some multiplayer feels lopsided
- Inconsistent difficulty in campaign
Love the game, but need some help? Check out our Killzone 3 Walkthrough!