Killzone 3 – PS3 Preview

2011 is a big year for Sony. Console exclusives are becoming about as rare as pots of gold at the end of rainbows (and potentially as lucrative), and the PS3 has an envious slate of potentially must-have titles that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Sackboy has already done his bit for the cause, worming his way back into our hearts with his patchwork world of almost endless possibilities, and now comes Killzone 3, the first of two big-name shooters – the other being Resistance 3 – that Sony are hoping will put up some heroic numbers for them in the sale charts.

Picking up at the point where its predecessor left off, Killzone 3 continues the series’ futuristic tale of the on-going war between ISA forces and the Helghast; or to put it in basic terms: good humans vs. evil space Nazis.

Killzone 2 didn’t end so much on a cliff-hanger as on a depressing, penny-dropping moment for main character Sev. After landing on the Helghasts’ home planet of Helghan and battling their way through its brutal environments and its occupants increasingly desperate resistance, Sev and his dwindling squad reached the imperial palace where, following one of the most frustrating FPS boss fights in recent memory, they finally dispatch the Helghan top brass, only to realise that they made things worse rather than better.

It’s this sense of despair that is set to be carried over into KZ3, with Sev and his team struggling to stay alive on Helghan while political turmoil and power struggles rage amongst their enemies. It’s something of a concern that developers Guerrilla Games has hinted at a lightening of the story this time around, as the bleakness of  Killzone 2’s plot distinguished it somewhat from the ‘Yippee ki-yay’ antics of many of its competitors and sat perfectly with the feel of the gameplay.

Trust must be placed in Guerrilla, however, to get the balance right, as there was a realistic weight to Killzone 2 narrative, environments and gameplay that you just didn’t get in any other mainstream shooter. Your character’s movements were slowed in a slightly encumbered way as if he was actually wearing heavy, life-preserving kit and carrying a real weapon rather than a plastic replica. And the game’s complex physics engine brought battlefields to life from gigantic explosions tearing through buildings and intelligent AI opponents all the way down to scraps of tangled cloth rippling in the breeze on barbed wire fences .

Once again KZ3 is set to be a visual delight, with the development team periodically moving away the from the urban settings of the last title to tackle some of Helghan’s more natural environments including jungle and arctic regions. The massive firefights and huge set-piece battles that wowed previously are also set to return, more enveloping than ever and enhancing the illusion of openness in a game that will still retain a deliberate linearity in order to guide the player along its most entertaining path. A path that this time around is littered with mechanical delights such as giant mech suits, jet packs, snow speeders and a pick and mix of pounding heavy weaponry.

Being one of Sony’s big box office titles, Killzone 3 will, of course, showcase both the PS3’s Move control system and 3D viewing options, but more likely to entice players is the return of the excellent competitive multiplayer from the last game.

The real revelation in Killzone 2’s multiplayer was the inclusion of Warzone, a mode where each match was made up of a series of different game types, such as team deathmatch and VIP, that automatically flowed from one into the next. Sensibly, Guerrilla have decided not to mess with this winning formula and have added to it with Operations, a new objective-based, attack-verses-defence team mode, and some tinkering with the levelling system which now shuns its previously ridged progression for a more flexible approach to its class-based combat that allows you much more freedom to decide how you want to spend the experience points you’ve acquired.

Once again, Guerrilla seem to have produced a Killzone title with the potential to not only sell itself to consumers but the PS3 as a system as well. Sony will certainly be hoping so as 2011 is the year the company is looking to on the offensive, and make a killing along the way.

Killzone 3 is released in the UK on 25th February & the US on 22nd February 2011.

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