I have played many if not all FPS released so far on both PS3 and XBOX360 (and many on the PC as well) and I appreciate each one peculiarities and features; now it’s Killzone 3’s turn.
All those who played Killzone 2 know what the PS3 series is mostly about: an extremely involving and immersive experience. Killzone really drags you into its world, it’s so well done it feels real, on every aspect; the player feels completely absorbed in an unwelcoming environment fighting against the red eyed Helgast (even though it’s actually the helmet that features red lights, the Helgast aren’t very alien-looking themselves).
Killzone is renowned for its awesome graphic but the most important part of it is the complex and evolved world/environment that really makes the player feel into the battlefield, the design it’s solid, it’s believable and there’s always something to look at, one can really see how much work went into building all this: from palette to models to level building. It’s great graphic and artistic direction at 360°, not just a showcase, it’s got life and soul.
Brilliant lighting and effects enhance the mood and atmosphere which become palpable, the soldiers runs, shoots and fight from both sides and there is always something coming from the sky . The excellent sound makes the player feel the world is living and moving (or rather fighting) around him/her, the voices are also very good and expressive.
Killzone is an FPS and an excellent one, in fact even though it doesn’t really put everything particularly new on the table it can definitely be considered one of the very best.
Among the features that should be mentioned there certainly are a great sense of movement, a very good cover system, multiple and different weapons, mech vehicles, jetpacks (that really give you the idea of moving in the air) and a varied gameplay with action-packed scenes as well as stealth ones.
It really is a game that makes you want to go on and enter the next scene to see what you’ll have to do and see how thins evolve.
The storyline is interesting and well built, it can’t be defined brilliant, in fact it’s a quite typical war scenario but it’s certainly believable as are the characters you play and meet throughout the game.
All of them, being ISA or Helgast have their own characteristics and their way of looking at the world, something that is shows through their action and which is especially highlighted during the cut-scenes.
The Cut-scenes themselves are extremely high-quality and work quite well to show the player what’s happening behind the scenes and offering him/her a different or deeper perspective about what’s going on and why certainly things are happening. They give the player the background of the story and of his/her actions as Sev, the character you play.
On the negative side, sometimes there’s not a perfect connection between the scenes, for example you may look at your character jumping over a fence and in the following scene he’s following down the slope... sometimes a bit of connection is missing but it’s just a few, minor occurrences and nothing that can really makes you feel estranged.
The character weight feel has been made milder compared to Killzone 2 but it still feels quite realistic (for those that can’t stand characters moving “on rails” as I do, this a game for you!), animations are always excellent and well balanced both in game and in the cut-scene, they may not always be movie-like quality but almost there, actually.
The controls are polished and precise, feel very natural and are definitely among the best for an FPS.
You will also appreciate how the various weapons behave as this is also an aspect that was carefully taken care of, aiming, the weapons spread, its range and everything related feels good and quite different depending on the weapon you’re using, which is something quite meaningful in a shooter.
In K3 the player will also have the chance to use both the Exo (mech) and jetpacks, these new experiences are up to par with the rest of the game as far as animation and the feel you get are concerned. The models are very well done, built in a believable way and move very nicely. This kind of scenes also positively break the pace of the game.
Both Exo and Jetpacks are also available in a couple of multiplayers maps and it’s definitely something new and to be experienced.
The IA is pretty good and you won’t see any enemy rushing at you to get killed easily, they go into cover most of the time, shoot from cover and try to flank you. They patrol, shot and launch grenades. Enemies have a good knowledge of the map and exploit the covers and move around your covers to catch you from the back or from an advantaged position.
I also had an enemy shooting at me from a very long distance and through a sort of fence, I thought I had left him quite behind but he was still trying to put me down, even though I was on another part of the map.
At higher difficulties playing Rambo won’t make you go very far and you actually have to carefully plan your way and tactic, you have to exploit the cover system, understand where all the enemies are to fine-tune your strategy and choose the best weapon to confront the different enemies.
Luckily there’s never much shortage of ammunition, in fact there’s an abundance of them but that’s something you’re going to need, especially at higher difficulty and this also allows you to play with all the different weapons available.
Speaking of graphic it can really be labelled as “superior” and not just for the quality, that only a few games are able to share (God of War 3, Uncharted 2) but for the level building and design. This is one of those games whose places you will really remember for a long time, both as far as the single player and the multiplayer modes are concerned.
The maps are intricate and complex yet they are iconic: it’s not like there’s a lot of stuff put together, they are carefully planned, built on different levels to support different strategies.
There really are just a few games that feature the same richness of environment K3 has: the sheer amount of models, of items you find around you and the complexity of every piece, of every room/environment you visit it’s luscious and magnificent, a real feast for the eyes.
The variety is also great, with different palettes for different environments to strongly characterize them, yet there’s also a strong global direction that makes every different scenario part of an organic whole.
It’s also just fair to point out the very high quality of textures which looks great from up-close (you may find some low-res ones but, seriously, it’s probably not even 5% of the global).
As for the characters, their design is rich and detailed, for all of them. The designs of the armours and mechs/robots is rich, peculiar and believable, it’s just beautiful. It is also very distinctive especially as far as the enemies are concerned, melee soldiers and snipers, for example, clearly pertain to the same army but apart from the general feeling they share very little if anything.
There’s a clear artistic direction but a variety and richness that are really mind-blowing.
Really, after a while you get used to the quality and detail of the graphic but try to switch to a different game and then get back to it and you’ll realize about it!
As far as the multiplayer experience is concerned it certainly has been greatly polished and now can really be considered well rounded. Playing with your buddies is immediate and flawless, personally, it’s the game I’ve had less problems about this that I’ve played. You also remain in team together after leaving a game, which is something not many online FPS feature and which is really handy.
Killzone multiplayer maps (both K2 and K3) are among the best you can ever play with a complex design, the same complexity and detail featured in the single player campaign. They’re always developed on multiple levels, at least two, usually more which means there are many different routes and strategies that can be exploited and actually depending on which class you’re playing you can take advantage of the different map features.
This truly helps make every game different and gives you a big sense of satisfaction ones you start to know
There are five different classes with their own peculiarities, weapons and possible playing styles (weapons and abilities are unlocked as you progress and gain levels). The only thing that’s missing from K2 is that you were able to make a mix of two classes creating an hybrid one with your favourite features, that was something I loved.
A peculiarity that I very much enjoy is that each class has a different impact on the world which means that the outcome of games can heavily depend on what classes players choose and on whether the teams are balanced or not for the kind of game they are playing. For example, if there are no engineer then no one is going to repair ammo crates and players won’t be able to have addition ammunitions, that’s something really meaningful and something I deeply appreciate of Killzone.
There are 3 different game types available: Guerrilla Warzone (team deatchmatch), Warzone (tasks-driven) and Operations (progressive maps in 3 stages where ISA attacks and Helgasts defend) which are quite different in terms of gameplay, strategies and “frenzy”.
There are also different maps for the different game types available, the Guerrilla Warzone ones, for example, are by and large smaller but overall there’s a very good variety of maps, they are very different both in terms of graphic and level design and extremely well done on every aspect.
Clearly Killzone 3 doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the genre but as an FPS experience is very involving, it’s an exceptional experience and can’t be missed by those that enjoy this style of gaming; it’s certainly one if the not the best FPS experiences currently available.
My suggestion to play it applies especially to those that look for a cinematic, involving experience that features a good challenge and a realistic world.
To sum up:
- all mechs and vehicles feature a strong, believable and extremely beautiful design and excellent animations
- deep sense of involvement, very immersive
- good gameplay variety
- the story is good enough, not the best you may experience but not bad either, one can either appreciate it or not, still the characters and storyline are believable and interesting
- excellent IA
- best controls and precision for an FPS
- extremely stable frame-rate, always smooth
- graphically superior to everything (and if you’re thinking about Crysis, that is a showcase of effects and large textures more than great graphic)
- excellent audio effects
- excellent voices and dubbing
- excellent armours design, peculiar and believable
- very engaging multiplayer
- too many commonplaces in the story? Maybe no one watches action movies anymore!