Spoilers on Killzone 2 are in this review.
Guerilla Games' last installment, Killzone 2, was a hard one to judge. Releasing with acclaim for many reviewers, a lot of player complained that it was all graphics and no substance, with the sluggish controls being the main complaint. However through all this it formed a dedicated fanbase. Can the Killzone series evolve whilst also keeeping that fanbase?
The single-player campaign starts off where the ending of Killzone 2 left off - outside Visari Palace after a view on Visari's body. Captain Narville sends the convoy on a trip across Phyrrus City and this is where the action kicks off. For me, Killzone 2's campain was a unmemorable, it was good, but it lacked a bit of impact. Killzone 3's campain is a big improvement. The environments are more diverse, with the graphical highlight being the jungle level (I believe it's called Kaznan Jungle), in which the graphics are truly breathtaking. The campaign does not improve on the tried and tested FPS formula of having a few set-pieces with vehicles here and there. The campaign gets more entertaining as you go through the campaign, with some outstanding levels to finish off. However, like the 2nd game, the story is a bit flat and the characters could have had their personalites fleshed out more - they tend to come across as the normal army grunt. The ending is disappointing, leaving open an obvious sequel.
Now for the meat of the game, multiplayer. It has undergone a few changes since Killzone 2, some for the better, some for the worse. Anybody who has played Killzone 2, or who goes back to Killzone 2 after Killzone 3 will notice that Killzone 3 is a lot easier to play. The controls are smoother and the guns are more accurate. Spawn grenades have been completely removed and have been replaced by Tactical Spawn Areas. This was Guerilla's alternative to minimise the flaws that people had with spawn grenades. I disagree. The initial impression is that TSA's are supposed to stop spawn camping - in actual fact they make it worse. Whereas with spawn grenades there was actually a chance to get out of spawn camping, TSA's completely cements spawn camping for the entire game, as when you go to capture one, players keep on spawning at the same point and kill you before it is captured. A design decision that I cannot understand is a few maps are given only one or two TSA's. The map with one TSA is the map that spawn camping occurs the most for the whole match, and the ones with two TSA's have TSA's in positions that are metres away from the bases of the ISA or HGH making them useless unless you want to spawn camp the opposing team.
The map design is not as good as Killzone 2. It is hard to place, but they seem very unbalanced and just the layout is questionable E.g. one map has 3 outlying routes to take. That is all. A few maps just have open spaces, and it begs the question what the maps would have been like if there was actual map topography there, like the maps Frozen Dam and Akmir Snowdrift. Added to the fact that the game only ships with maps, they do become repetitive.
The class system has also undergone big changes. Instead of having to play the class to unlock ribbons so that you can unlock further features, when you level up you earn unlock points and each class has 9 unlocks. The cost of unlocks ranges from either 1 to 3, and you earn more unlock points per level as you reach higher levels, topping off at 4 points per level. This does not work as well, as once one class is maxed out, you can just carry on playing that one to unlock the features of the others. Killzone 2 actually made you try out each class. Addtionally, in my experience of the game, games are littered with Tacticians and Marksmen as they have the best abilities (a cloak and recon which shows the positions of players on the map.) There are also multiple connection and matchmaking issues which Guerrilla are working on.
Killzone 2 shows that a class based game can work well, but I feel that the changes made to this game make it worse rather than better.
Don't get me wrong, while the issues seem to tell a story of a bad game, the game is still very enjoyable online. The trademark Killzone gameplay is still there, with the main class abilities untouched. However, the changes make it seem like something is missing, but it is hard to place. For some, this will be a good sequel, for others it may be disappointing. For me, it's a good sequel, however it has much room for improvement.
Community wise, the wide availability of every stat available is missing, like it was in Killzone 2, and battle replays are no longer there on the site. Sigh.
Don't let this put you off though, it is still a great game and a worthy addition to your collection.