A jab at gaming – with love

Killzone 3 Review

by Brian

Three strikes and you’re out.  It’s a simple enough concept for most to grasp.  From kids playing in little league, high school girls playing softball, all the way up to the performance enhanced playboys of summer like Alex Rodriguez; all understand this basic rule.  It’s probably the single most well known rule in baseball and its associated sports.  It’s even been applied to parts of our legal system and to TV game shows.  Should it be applied to game making as well?  Is not three separate opportunities to do something right enough to determine if you rock or if you suck?

Guerrilla Games would do well to pay attention to this rule.  Each console iteration of the Killzone franchise has typically received mostly positive reviews, with a light sprinkling of dissenting reviews mixed in.  The only Killzone game to receive almost entirely positive reviews is the 2006 release Killzone-Liberation for the PSP.  Killzone 3 falls in with the former group.  The most baffling part of the console specific releases of the Killzone games is the fact that they manage to get so many parts right, and yet manage to miss the ball almost completely in other sections.  It’s like Ferrari crafting an elegant sports car and throwing in faulty Toyota made brakes.  It looks great, but the lack luster brakes ensure you’ll not want to drive it for long.

Let’s get some of Killzone 3’s good points out of the way; it’s gorgeous for starters.  This is an area that Guerrilla Games has typically excelled in as a developer.  Despite being criticized as monotone, too grey, and too dark; even Killzone 2 had well crafted visuals.  Killzone 3 continues the tradition while at the same time also eliminating the “monotone” complaint that Killzone 2 received.  The levels in KZ3 are varied and colorful.  The jungle levels in particular will have you wondering if perhaps those mushrooms you ate earlier were the “bad” kind, with fluorescent colors and insane looking plants that seem to be stolen right from a hippie’s LSD nightmare.

The actual shooting of your weapons is done well enough.  There are multiple controls schemes and plenty of areas where they allow adjustment to feel comfortable for most fans of the more popular (and better made) Call of Duty franchise.  When a bullet actually reaches its destination and hits the bad guy is where the problems begin.  No matter the difficulty setting, the enemies in the games are absolute bullet sponges.  We’re talking 8 direct hits or more at times to take them down.  Even the ubiquitous “one shot kill” aka headshot at times takes 2 shots to work; once to remove the guys helmet and one more time to finish the deed.  By the third or fourth level, this flaw is so infuriating that it’s difficult to even want to keep playing.

The story is another major hurdle to maintaining actual interest in the game.  It’s boring, most of the characters are poorly voice acted, and it’s confusing.  First you’re 10 months in the past, then it shows you a scene from 10 months later, then it’s 10 months in the past again.  Eventually you’re 10 months past giving a crap about the story any longer.  Perhaps if they had managed to craft an actually interesting tale you’d be more inclined to keep track of everything…  but they didn’t so you won’t.

Multiplayer has the same blah factor that the story does.  It’s there, all the options and play-modes you’d expect are there, and with friends to play with there are even times where you’ll enjoy yourself.  One feature that was actually enjoyable was at the end of each match when a small cut-scene would play depicting the winning team and losing team along with the actual player names from the match.  The losing team members are usually shown being captured, or on the ground with their hands above their heads while the victors stand over them freely distributing kicks and taunts.  It’s a small piece of the game, but amusing nonetheless.  At the end of the day though you’ll be left wondering to yourself why you are playing Killzone 3 multiplayer over any other FPS multiplayer.  There really aren’t too many good answers to that question, and with games out already like Black Ops and it’s vastly superior multiplayer gameplay and armament you’ll soon discover your online time is better invested someplace else.

Guerrilla Games has a long way to go when it comes to developing the console versions of its Killzone series of games.  Killzone 3 does have a few highlights, like the epic/gigantic boss battle and points previously mentioned, but its myriad of shortcomings are sure to eventually wear out your enthusiasm for the game.  It’s hard to recommend such a game to anyone except those already familiar and enamored with the Killzone series.  For most other players, the best advice is probably to skip it.  Killzone 3 technically represents strike three for Guerrilla Games in my opinion, so the question now becomes are they out?  At heart, I’m an optimist.  Guerrilla Games has shown that they are willing to take criticism and use it to improve their games.  I’m hoping they are just as receptive this time around and that when the eventual Killzone 4 is released perhaps we’ll be willing to give it another “at bat”.


2 Responses to “Killzone 3 Review”

  1. “Eventually you’re 10 months past giving a crap about the story any longer.”

    Hah! Great line and great review. I would like to add that I did not think the shooting was done very well though. Especially around the edges of objects. I could see people sticking out, but couldn’t hit them because of invisible walls. Horrible.

  2. Thanks, Josh. I appreciate the compliment.

    Regarding shooting, I liked the feel of the weapons and for the most part thought the aiming was spot on. Even chucking grenades, they tended to land about where I expected each time so that’s why I said the shooting seemed solid enough. I didn’t encounter any of the problems you mentioned, or perhaps I was so busy pumping a guy with 2 or 3 clips of ammunition I just didn’t have the time to notice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: