We’ve all got our favourite shooters. PC gamers reminisce about the good old days of id’s Doom and Quake games, while others love Epic’s Unreal franchise. In more recent times, it’s been the Call of Duty’s and the Gears of War’s that have set the bar nice and high, but chugging away in the background like a trusty and well-oiled machine is Sony’s talented studio, Guerrilla Games. And it’s from this Dutch outfit that the third shooter in the Sony-only series arrives. Killzone 3 is a kind-of-epic FPS which tugs on all the right ropes and really, truly, seems to push the PlayStation 3 hardware close to bursting point.
In the interests of full disclosure, the game supports both Sony’s Move motion controller and stereoscopic 3D. We didn’t have the hardware to test either of these, however and are therefore unable to pass judgement – though we think most consumers are likely in the same position.
Killzone 3’s feature set is split very clearly down the middle. A singleplayer (and split-screen co-op) campaign stands not quite shoulder-to-shoulder with the deep and gritty online multiplayer game. Make no mistake, you’ll buy Killzone 3 for both, but it’s the online action which will keep you coming back for more.
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While it might seem almost criminal that Killzone 3’s only co-op mode is still stuck in the ancient mire of two-player split-screen hell, the singleplayer campaign is one that’ll entertain you right through to the rewarding finale. It won’t actually take you very long to thrash through however; the average run-time is going to be somewhere between 5-8 hours depending on the difficulty level that you opt to roll with.
That might not seem like a heck of lot of single-player gaming for your 40 quid investment and, in some respects that is true. Once you’ve blasted your way through Killzone 3’s predictable sci-fi yarn, which features Malcolm MacDowell’s ruthless Stahl and Ray Winstone’s hard man Admiral Orlock, you’ll be ready to focus long-term attention on the online portion.
The story itself is either decent or awful depending on your tolerance levels for macho cheesiness. Your character is the beat-up and beat down Special Forces Sev, who, along with angry chum Rico, gets stuck on the planet Helghan right after the events of Killzone 2’s climax. The Helghans are experiencing a political and military power shift and it’s all Sev and Rico can do to keep cutting their hunting knives deeper into the Helghast forces.
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Along with a splattering of other ISA survivors, our guys can’t get off the planet and have to camp out biding their time. A nefarious plot begins to hatch and soon enough, it’s guns-blazing-time all over again. Before long the two are protaganists are beating their chests, cocking their guns and charging around in a fog of testosterone.
The best thing about Killzone 3’s singleplayer portion is that it introduces a much wider variety of environments, weapons and enemy types than the last game, which often dipped into being a bit dreary. Indeed, one of the biggest complaints about KZ2 was that it all looked pretty “samey.” This time though new boomsticks like the powerful and fun W.A.S.P. missile launcher swell the ranks of man-toys very nicely. The addition of the nasty, nimble, and nightmarish Helghan hunters that sprint after you at barrelling speeds and knife you in the neck is welcomed too.