Killzone: Liberation

Guerilla reworks their futuristic FPS into one of the PSP's best shooters. Just watch that difficulty...
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: December 17, 2006
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It's weird how Killzone, Dutch developer Guerilla's first game, managed to garner a ton of hype (especially among the European press) without really offering anything not seen in previous first-person shooters. It was pretty, sure, and it at least presented a war-torn world that seemed rife with back story and detail, but there was the sense that wasn't quite explored on a level that the hardware would allow.

Killzone: Liberation, which picks up right after the end of the PS2 game, doesn't really do anything to help that. In fact, it does even less, offering almost nothing in the way of storyline details that help thicken up the mythos and atmosphere surrounding the planet Vekta and the onslaught of once-human Helghast. Still strapped into the shoes of Templar, the leader of the small squad of fighters in the last game, it's your job to swing momentum toward the offensive, pushing back against the Helghast in the southern part of the main continent.

Unfortunately, despite a basic villain (Metrac, a Helghast villain) and the tacked-on idea of some kidnapped state officials, there's really no exploration nor update of what happened in the last game. It's entirely possible that this was done intentionally, leaving the door open for Killzone PS3 to fill in that void, but it still means that the actual narrative of the game for all intents and purposes was ditched in favor of just presenting a solid single-player action game.

And it is solid; built for the ground up for the PSP rather than being a forced FPS that so far nobody has managed to get right on the system. The isometric view allows for just enough detail to keep things interesting looking while locking down a consistent framerate and offering a completely different take on the Killzone universe. For the most part, you'll be going solo, but the game does allow, though the use of the d-pad, some light strategy in ordering a teammate to mount a turret or take cover behind an object. The primary focus, though is on Templar going it alone and using cover wherever possible.

The basic controls breakdown was covered when we first looked at the game a good half-year ago, and by all means, check that out as it also covers the multiplayer portion of the game, which is largely unchanged and still every bit as awesome as we'd hoped (though it's not supported out of the box, Guerilla and Sony have promised that an update will allow for Infrastructure modes for some hawt hawt online action, and we'll update the review). The gist of it is that you want to take cover whenever possible, crouch and then pop up during enemy reloads or when they break from cover. It's a simple system, and one that automatically adjusts to things like angles of elevation within a few shots.

What makes the combat so fun, though, is that the enemy you're fighting is just as adept at reading the environment around you as you are. They'll dash for cover as soon as they are fired upon, they'll open fire if they spot you first, and, later on in the game, they're all to comfortable with lobbing grenades around cover to flush you out or targeting explosive objects nearby (all things you can do too). In fact, at times they're almost too good, mainly because the odds are so heavily stacked. It can lead to missions that seem incredibly hard in some spots while others are a cakewalk. Overall, the game ratchets up the difficulty steadily, but by the end, you're going to be tempted to chuck the PSP through a wall.

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