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Preview: Killzone 3

Brutal Gamer’s preview of Killzone 3 at PS Beta rooms.

I was expecting to be blown away when I sat down to play a beta version of Killzone 3. That didn’t happen because Killzone 3 suffers from a terminal case of sequelitis: Killzone 2 blew me away with its impressive visuals, highly responsive gameplay, addictive multiplayer and gritty brutality but Killzone 3 doesn’t feel like enough of a change to have the same impact. I felt the same way playing Modern Warfare 2, a game that tried to find new success in a new success.

The explosions come fast and furious and the brutal nature of Killzone is still in full force, but I wasn’t as impressed this time around; even the inclusion of jetpacks failed to leave me anticipating its eventual release. I played three different scenarios multiple times which featured different gameplay mechanics in each one: one was a simple run-and-gun after flying in a chopper operating a turret, one was a jetpack missions and the other was a missile launcher mission. Each lasted about five minutes, but gave me plenty of food for thought.

Visually, Killzone 3 is unarguably going to be a step up from Killzone 2. There’s more detail to everything, in the gore, the Helghast design, the environment… but whatever improvements have been made feel little. Both Killzone 2 and 3 look brilliant but there’s not much Guerilla Games can improve upon – this isn’t their fault, it’s just something that can’t be avoided. The same can be said for the gameplay: the gun-play is still sharp, enemies still hard as nails but conquerable with the right amount of skill.

There are a few changes but I’m not sure they are for the best. Jet-packs have been included but not only do they feel tacked on, but they aren’t really jet-packs, more like jump-packs. You boost upwards with them but you’re back on the ground within a few seconds – this short span of time is more noticeable when fighting enemies using them, as they almost hop around waiting for you to kill them. Shoot their pack once and they explode – in comparison with pissing away bullets at a phenomenal rate against tougher enemies, one-shot kills feel empty. The empty feeling stretches to the whole of the jet-pack gameplay: you have to use the packs to progress but using them isn’t fun really.

Speaking of pissing away bullets, I found myself close to shouting “ammo!” a few times while traversing the levels. The introduction of lavish, Hollywoodised knife kills should ease ammo woes on easier difficulties (as well as keep the easily amused happy), but on several occasions I found myself out of secondary weapon ammo and having to play the game solely with a pistol.

Killzone 2 suffered from a bit of an ammo shortage at times but I never remembered it to be this bad: when I started blurting out issues with the game to one of the beta tester/note-takers, he acknowledged that ammo shortage was a problem raised not just by me. Thankfully because concerns and feedback get passed on to the developers, maybe this problem won’t occur when the full game is released; in one mission the game provided lots of ammo crates in one section where I didn’t really need it but in another mission none when I did need it.

As mentioned before, Killzone 3 to Killzone 2 felt like Modern Warfare 2 to Modern Warfare – to spice up the gameplay and justify another £40 investment in the series, changes have been made but these changes feel either unsubstantial or deliberate. I’d rather have a meatier single-player and multiplayer with more modes, some new weapons, new enemies and more ammo than a jet-pack, dramatic cut-scenes and over-the-top knife kills.

In trying to justify the purchase of Killzone 3, Guerilla have stumbled into an almost unavoidable trap: how do you improve upon a game that is already so good? It’s a problem that I imagine Naughty Dog are dealing with now as they work on Uncharted 3, but it’s a problem Guerilla Games are going to have to face now head-on. Including new but ultimately unnecessary game changes to make the experience different within comfortable familiarity is not a strong enough improvement. Killzone 2 was great but like any videogame it can be better, and Killzone 3 didn’t feel better.

Those content with more of the same will be very much entertained and craving more when a demo is released; based on what I have already played, I’ll be one of the few with the ‘more of the same’ feeling…

About Harry

An overzealous film watcher, videogame journalist, university student & bagel eater. Susceptible to bargains and biscuits; fears roller-coasters and strangers.

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