Killzone 3 Review

Let me start out this review saying that I apologize for not being up sooner.  I was not able to secure a copy for myself, and haven't even played it on my own account yet.  However, I did manage to beat the entirety of the game, and play a fair amount of multiplayer, the past few days at my friend's house.  

In a perfect world, I would have played every map (I missed two, but played all game modes) before reviewing, or perhaps played the game on a higher difficulty, but I don't know when I will be able to play the game myself, so I wanted to post this sooner rather than later.

Killzone 3 has a lot to live up to.  Both of the previous games have come in under ENORMOUS hype, called the 'halo killer' or 'CoD killer', yet both managed to dissapoint.  The original was an uninspired shooting gallery, and the scond had some of the worst controls I have ever seen.  Needless to say, Killzone 3 has a lot to prove.

STORY

Killzone 3 takes place right on the heels of two, which saw the murder of Helghan leader Visari at the hands of Rico, Sev's loudmouth teamate.  Whereas KZ2 was about invading, KZ3 is about leaving.  With the destruction of the ISA's fleet, the war is virtually over, but that doesn't mean leaving will be easy.

There is enough intrigue here to keep the story interesting.  Sev is likeable enough as the main character, though at times I fould myself wishing that his partner Rico would be killed in the enxt cutscene.  Think Dom in GoW.  The race to leave Helghan takes some twists and turns, but nothing mindblowing ever happens to the main crew.

The best part of the game's plot is actually the struggle between the Helghast themselves.  With no one to take the throne, leadership of the army has fallen to two men, Admiral Orlock, and Jorgan Stahl.  Malcolm McDowell is fantastic as Stahl, an ambitious arms manufacturer, and the tension between him and the admiral drives much of the overall story.  Perhaps the cutscenes featring the two could be a tad shorter, though it hardly ruins the game.

Many other reviewers have been quite ruthless with reagrd to the game's plot.  Certainly, it is far from Shakespeare, but at the end of the day, Killzone 3 offers a story that, if nothing else, is fun to see the first time through.  Perhaps a bit confusing, at some times lacking in exposition, but overall far from terrible.

GAMEPLAY

Some games succeed when it comes to giving weapons a more weighted feel.  The Battlefield games are known for this.  Other games, such as Killzone 2, failed miserably.  Fortunately, Guerilla tweaked the controls, making a game that is more responsive, and fun, then the previous.

Movement and aiming is still rough, only this time it feels much more realistic.  Weapons sway as you walk, and moving the camera is not as precise as in CoD or Halo.  However, unlike KZ2, there is no input lag, which I could never understand having in the first place.  What is left, is a game which, while not as fast or precise as other shooters, gives a greater sense of actually "being there".

Of course, none of this matters if shooting isn't fun.  Weapons in the Killzone games have always been great, and Guerilla has brought back all of your favorites, plus a few.  Many old weapons have been upgraded, including scopes on several Helghan weapons.  And while there may not be much difference between some of the weapons, each is very satisfying to use.  My personal favorite is the WASP, a massive missile launcher capable of destroying a bunker with one salvo.

Also new are the mechs and jetpacks.  Of course, that sounds awesome, but is it actually?  Yes.

In multiplayer, classes have been overhauled, so that now it is more important to commit to one that suits your style.  The progression here is a mix between Black ops and Bad Company.  Players earn one point every time they level up.  This point can then be spent in one of the five MP classes, purchasing guns, secondaries, or special abilities for use in that class.  The more powerful the gun/ability, the more points it costs.  

It's a system that requires that players understand each class before dumping their points into it.  And while it may sound harsh, there is a botzone practice mode, in which every class has all the unlocks available.  This is great for players to decide whether they would prefer to unlock the STA3 LMG (my personal fav.) or maybe the Sniper Rifle.  Word of advice, do NOT neglect your class abilities, they are more important than your secondary, so upgrade those first.

Cooperative play is here, but only in splitscreen.  It doesn't make much sense to omit online coop, but if you have an extra controller, KZ3's campaign is even more fun with two people, even if you can only see half as much.

While it willl largely come down to personal preference when you decide which shooter gameplay is your favorite, Killzone 3 makes enough good changes to it's formula to deserve consideration.

DESIGN

Even if you didn't enjoy tha plot of Killzone 3, at least you could enjoy playing through it.  The washed out greys and browns of KZ2 have been largely done away with, replaced with scenery that is more vibrant, and exciting.

Killzone 3 does boil down to the simple shooter formula of 'go here, kill this', but does a good job of hiding it.  Players will storm a ice-locked prison, tear through an explosive jungle, and take down a massive crawling battleship in their race to leave the planet.  While at times it can become a little stale, especially during the middle of the game, overall the combination of enormous set-pieces and varied locales, mixed in with decent pacing, makes for an enjoyable,    6-8-hour ride.

That carier-looking thing?  It's actually a giant tank.  And you have to destroy it.

Online, players will be treated to the two gametypes they know from KZ2, Guerilla Warfare and Warzone.  GW is Team Deathmatch, and Warzone is a long, seven-part romp through a randomized set of gametypes.  It may be too lengthy for some (one match can be around 15 minutes), but it's a perfect fit for KZ's distinct gameplay.

Operations is the new game mode, and offers a new twist on the cooperative story mode.  Players play through three scenarious, half the players as the ISA, the other half as the Helghast.  Each side has objectives to complete, and if they succeed, a short cutscene will play, featuring the standout players from each side.  It's original and exciting, the only draw being that the three maps get boring after a while.

The maps, all but two of which I was able to play, are great.  Some are smaller than others, making them less ideal for Warzone, but generally they work perfectly.  Multi-tiered envirenments, mazelike passages, open expanses, every map features a bit of everything.  If you only play the game a certain way, rest assured you won't have too much trouble finding a niche.  

Guerilla was smart enough to cut off sections of the larger maps for Guerilla Warfare, so that most of the fighting is focused, rather than sporadic.  Overall, I never had any complaints about the maps I played, and the other two (which I watched my friend play) seemed to be more-or-less level with the rest.  Eight maps may not seem like much, but they're eight GOOD maps.

Overall, Killzone 3 offers enough content to keep players coming back.  A fun solo game, the Operations game mode, and 8 immesnely fun maps.  Not a bad deal.

PRESENTATION

Killzone 3 is the best looking shooter on the market.  There, I said it.  Sorry guys, but try and find another game that looks this good, at 60 fps, with bullets and explosions flying everywhere.  You won't.  Textures pop and stand out, envirenemnts are richly detailed, and character models are gorgeous.  Rico may be a douche, but he looks good.

Okay, Rico's an ugly bastard, but Sev...I'd hit it.

I already alluded earlier that the game features more color than previous Killzones.  While there is still a large amount of brown in the pallette, other colors have seeped into the game, giving more life and credibility to the Helghast homeworld.  That's not to say everything is rainbows and sunshine.  This is still, for the most part, a desolate, dying world.  But Geurilla manages to show that using more than just one tone, and that's impressive.

The one place where I felt the game wasn't spectacular in it's presentation was the soundtrack.  The 'justice' trailer made me expect the game to feature some awesome orchestral scores to go along with it's epic battles.  Unfortunately, it's fairly bland, especially for a AAA title.

Other than that, the actual sound quality is superb.  It seems like one place develoeprs like to put a lot of hours is making sure weapons and explosives sound real.  I had no complaints about the mixing, everything was crisp and clear.  The voice acting did it's job, but again, only McDowell really stands out.

VERDICT

Guerilla had a lot to make up for, after dropping the ball with KZ2.  Luckily, they did that and more, crafting an experience which, while may not usurp Call of Duty as shooter king, earns a spot beside it.

Story-8

Gameplay-9.5

Design-9

Presentation-9.5

OVERALL-9

VALUE

The campaign is rather short, and while fun enough, likely won't warrant another playthrough.  However, the multiplayer makes up for that and then some.  Eight maps and two game modes have never felt like so much.

5/5

You may also like:

Bad Company 2 (PS3/360/PC)

It's almost a year old, but still lots of fun.  Like KZ3, gameplay feels more weighted and real.

Starship Troopers (DVD/Blu-Ray)

ST actually is about killing bugs, but the gung-ho attitude of the main characters is right in line with KZ.

Defiance (DVD/Blu-ray)

This film slipped under the radar for many.  Daniel Craig leads a guerilla resistance against the nazis.

pfro's picture

I want to get this game and I feel my review might be similar, but I just can't pull the trigger and buy it. Defiance is an excellent movie as well.

Ralinas's picture

JUST GET IT!!! It's a good game it's better than the 2nd I can vouch for it again.... Atleast rent it

XL_ARES_IX's picture

So no comment on the absolutely pathetic ending to the story? Nothing was resolved and it seemed like the only thing you managed was the complete destruction of an entire planet. I suppose anything now adays in videogames is acceptable when it comes to cliffhanger endings that are completely illogical.

brodyitis's picture

It's good to see well written opinionated reviews on this site.

Josh Kowbel's picture

Good review man. I'm glad to see we have similar opinions about Killzone 3. I feel like it deserves a chance after many gamers were disappointed by Killzone 2.

AnalbagEd's picture

@XL_ARES_IX Did you watch after the credits? If two footsoldiers survived who's to say anyone else didn't. I do believe it's a terrible ending, but they're going to keep milking it for sequals.

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