Killzone 3

David Versus (Robo) Goliath

We go hands-on with an entirely new (to us) Killzone 3 scenario featuring a level of scale unseen on the PS3 thus far.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: December 22, 2010
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We'd be remiss if we didn't mention another thing about that cannon and indeed the game as a whole: it sounds fantastic. There's a sort of unnatural, overwhelming buzz that erupts from the cannon when it lays down a steady stream of death, punctuated by an ominous charging sound before it's actually unleashed. Killzone 2 was great as demonstrating a kind of controlled cacophony, mixing copious explosions with the muffled accents of the Higs themselves and staccato weapons fire. Here, the effects seem even more separated into the discrete surround channels, but we'll admit it's been a while since we last played Killzone 2. Needless to say, the sound design this time around feels just as touched-up as the visuals, though anyone who played through the Killzone 3 Beta likely knows this from the Turbine Concourse map that this single-player level seemed to be the basis (or at least inspiration) for.

What surprised us most about the game, though, wasn't how pretty it looked (despite being oppressively brown and red) or sounded, but how much impact the cutscenes had. Not only were there multiple breaks from the action, but when they happened, they felt like they were actually moving the story along. The dialogue this time around, while still firmly planted in the realm of big-budget action movies, felt more stirring and weighty. By the time we watched the final cutscene of the level play out (with a heartbreaking end to the whole preview build just as the ISA troops were taking a space elevator to a station high above the Helghan atmosphere), we were whooping and cheering right along with the rest of the troops. Sev's f-bomb-stirring speech was just the ride side of chest-beatingly great to get us pumped for what's to come.

There was one other major addition to things this time around that we never really got to go in-depth with in previous showings of Killzone 3: PlayStation Move support. MAG may have taken the crown as the first "hardcore" shooter to embrace Sony's motion controller (and did it with great success if player response is any indication), the first new FPS to really showcase the technology will be the February release of Killzone 3, and it's here where we're not quite as sold.

It's not that the controls don't work -- quite the opposite, they're as impressively precise as anyone who has gotten comfortable with pointer-based first-person shooting can attest, but there's a definite sense that Move support is just that: support. Without the same breadth of options for controlling things like dead zones and sensitivity in both the normal and zoomed views (as Zipper Interactive provided with the MAG patch), things can feel disjointed, with looking falling behind the laser precision of the zoomed-in views. Generally speaking, though, if you point at the screen and pull the trigger, the enemy will taste dirt with surprising accuracy.

Little motion-specific touches like a quick clockwise twist of the Move controller to reload and a bevy of options for allowing the camera to zoom in and lock onto enemies can help things too, though we opted for a no-assist policy and were quite happy with the results. If one so chooses, an "Adaptive" view can be chosen, zooming the camera in only when there's a threat nearby rather than the traditional hold or toggle zoom controls. It's an interesting option, though a bit jarring for those used to playing with controls. Nevertheless, with just a few minutes of acclimation, we were gunning down masked baddies with ease. Turning and looking around, however, weren't quite as simple.

There's plenty reason now to believe Killzone 3 will be everything it should be. The analog stick controls no longer have the same huge delay, but there's still an absolute sense of weight that makes this, well, Killzone, and the improvements to everything from character interaction to audio and visual gussying up only has us counting the days until release that much more impatiently. Should we be lucky enough to get to experience another early peek at the game, we'll let you know.
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