Killzone 3 PlayStation 3 review

The Helghast are back, and Aaron dons a shiny new jetpack and heads into Sony’s Killzone 3…

The original Killzone was, and still is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated games of recent times. Whilst it had its issues, it was a well produced and original take on the FPS genre, and one that really pushed the PS2 to its limits.

The sequel, Killzone 2 was also good, but I couldn’t help but feel a little let down. It was a solid title, but simply wasn’t the monster I’d hoped for. After all, it had the power of the PS3 to back it up and didn’t really push the formula all that much.

Now we have the third in the series to go at. So, can it deliver?

Hard times

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Killzone 3 takes place immediately after the closing events of Killzone 2, although there’s a good deal of zipping back and forth through current day and flashbacks. You once again take on the role of Sev and, along with Killzone veteran, Rico, you’re thrown into a last ditch attempt to escape the planet Helghan after the entire Helghast army decides to respond to the death of their beloved Scolar Visari in full force.

As you’d expect, this evacuation doesn’t go entirely according to plan, and to cut to the chase without spoiling things, you end up having to survive on the hostile planet against the entire military might of the Helghast. Never good.

Déjà vu?

Killzone 3 plays almost exactly like its predecessor, and there’s been little in the way of alteration when it comes to the basics. The cover system from the second outing returns and functions in much the same way, but feels a little tighter, and the mixture of on foot and on rails combat is present. There’s even an element of stealth for good measure.

However, one major change that you’ll notice immediately is the removal of the oft criticised aiming lag, which was used previously to simulate weapon weight and handling. This is no more, and the game is now much faster and sharper when aiming and firing, something fans have been crying out for since the first outing.

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This means that the game now plays far more like staple FPS games like CoD and Halo, and this single improvement alone make online battles far more enjoyable. I have to say, though, despite the obvious benefits of smooth aiming, I do kind of miss the unique feel of the first two games. But if I had to choose, the new system is the clear winner, especially online.

Another new addition to the game is the introduction of the jetpack. This was shown off several times during the game’s hyping phase, and the new kit is certainly fun to play with, and although not as instantly accessible as Halo Reach‘s offering, it’s far more satisfying, and the limited power and boost functions make the times you need to use it fun.

Killzone‘s AI is as solid as ever too, and even feels a little more robust this time. On the harder difficulties, foes can pretty much kill with a single hit, and they’ll not be content to simply wait the battle out. They’ll lob grenades to flush you out, flank you and some units will even bull rush you for the melee kill, forcing you to change up your tactics.

War is fun

The single player campaign is once again a well crafted and enjoyable romp, and it’s packed with standout moments and epic battles, some of which will have you breaking a sweat as you struggle to stay alive against crack shot Helghast and their technical superiority. The switch back to the ISA’s rebellion-like status, against a powerful and overwhelming force, as seen in the first game is welcome, and helps this oppressive feeling, and the presentation is superb, with heaps of atmosphere, grand vistas and raging battlefields. Helghan has never looked so good.

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Killzone 3 is one of the best looking games on the PS3, and the design is once again excellent. Locations, characters and atmosphere ooze out of the title, and this even translates across to the game’s multiplayer, which also looks excellent, with a range of well-designed, if a little complex maps.

Killzone online

Again, Killzone‘s multiplayer strives to be unique, and as well as catering for the basic deathmath style of play, the Warzone mode is the favourite once more, with it’s ever-changing mixture of mission types that switch during a single match, keeping the game fresh.

The class-based approach is also great, and allows players to form real teams of specialised soldiers working together as a whole, rather than a collection of people running around like headless chickens.

Teamwork is the order of the day here, and Killzone 3 is one of the few online games that manages to get this balance about right (if, of course, you get a good group of players together).

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If you’ve got no one to play with, or prefer to go solo, then the Botzone returns too, and is a great way to either practise and get to know the maps, or to simply get that multiplayer experience offline.

Kill the Higs!

Killzone 3 isn’t an epic revolution, not at all. In fact, although there’s little in the way of faults worth mentioning, you can’t ignore that this is really more of the same, and apart from a few tweaks (albeit very welcome ones), there’s very little here that wasn’t already done in Killzone 2, which holds the score back a bit.

It certainly goes some way to alleviate the slight disappointment I felt with Killzone 2, and the story alone is enough to place this above the second game, as is the smooth control. But it’s still not quite the epic series I feel the original promised.

Despite this lack of new features, though, Killzone 3 is still highly recommended. It’s possibly the best FPS on the PS3 (barring CoD) and it’s one of the most polished and downright slick games you’ll play this year.

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4 out of 5