Killzone 3 review

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Killzone 3 reviewDo you ever get the feeling that the Call Of Duty series has become like a black hole? An unstoppable universal entity slowly sucking everything around it towards its core, until everything exists in one place, at one time, in accordance with one singular formula. It does feel that way sometimes, doesn’t it? And playing through Killzone 3 is exactly one of those times.

Killzone 2 was far from an original game, but it still distinguished itself from the pack with a meticulous dedication to the fine art of shooting things until they fall to the ground and stop moving. Its famous ‘Ballet Of Death’ trailer was more than just a crude juxtaposition of two polarised entertainment forms, it accurately reflected one of Killzone 2’s core principles – that every single kill should be savoured. Like the first taste of a fine wine, the scent of a freshly plucked rose or the delicate orchestration of an operatic duet about picking flowers. Well, maybe not quite like that, but it is fair to say that every single time you forced a Helghast to the floor in a hail of gunfire in Killzone 2, it felt like a victory in itself and, phenomenal graphics aside, this was Guerrilla’s greatest accomplishment in that game.

Killzone 3 reviewSo you’d think that this central defining characteristic would be one thing to confidently expect from Killzone 3, wouldn’t you? But surprisingly, and very disappointingly, there’s barely a trace of it anywhere. Instead, we have a Killzone that barely ever wavers from the now rather too familiar Call Of Duty template. To be clear, that’s a reference to what Call Of Duty has become, not what it started out as. In fact, you could say that going from Killzone 2 to Killzone 3 is somewhat akin to going from Call Of Duty 2 to Call Of Duty 3, or from Modern Warfare to Modern Warfare 2. The consistent identity and vision has been dropped in favour of outrageous set-piece moments linked together with tedious shooting gallery sections, and consequently the tense atmosphere and aggressive intensity of Killzone 2 are scarcely, if ever, carried over to its sequel.

The whole thing feels like a lightweight, dumbed-down shadow of Killzone 2, compromised by safe-bet decision-making and an approach that favours follow-the-leader over breaking out in any fresh creative directions at all. It is, without question, a backwards step.

But that’s not to say it’s bad. After all, Call Of Duty’s not bad, just increasingly diminishing in its returns. Guerrilla’s vision, facile though it might be, has largely been executed with a characteristically high level of proficiency and polish, so for the most part Killzone 3 is a smooth and superficially impressive ride. And actually, the Call Of Duty cloning has even brought some improvements with it. Killzone 2’s combat was consistently engaging, no doubt, but it lacked variety and changes of pace. Killzone 3 addresses this issue eagerly with environments that break well free of Killzone 2’s orange, black, claustrophic mould and numerous on-rails and vehicle sections. It’s so eager though that, while the increased variety is certainly a welcome improvement overall, it feels like it might be part of Killzone 3’s problem sometimes too. It’s almost as if the straightforward FPS sections have been forced to take a backseat and their quality has suffered badly as a result. If that is the case, then it’s a serious oversight, as they really needed to be the glue holding everything else together.

Killzone 3 reviewOn the plus-side though, Killzone 3 does have a few truly memorable set-piece moments that, while simplistic to play, are pretty exciting to be a part of. One particularly epic battle towards the end of the game stands out. It’s the sort of thing that many other games have done – including Killzone’s Sony stable-mate Resistance and Microsoft rival Halo – but with Guerrilla’s incredible graphics engine running the show, it surpasses anything seen anywhere else in terms of both scale and detail. On this one occasion the spectacle is such that your awareness that whole section is tightly scripted will do little to diminish your sense of satisfaction. Unfortunately though, it’s a lone exception to the rule that Killzone 3 is stifled by overly prescriptive design.

To give you a fundamental and perfectly illustrative example of this, you’ll remember how – as touched upon earlier in this review – Killzone 2 was famed for the way its graphics, physics, animation and AI combined to generate hundreds of unique and spectacular Helghast deaths. It was, as far as anyone could tell, entirely procedural. None of those Helghast was being forced to die in especially satisfying ways, the game was just built in such a way that it happened naturally. It’s a cause of some dismay then to counter-snipe a sniper in Killzone 3, see his body at first fall backwards as the laws of physics dictate then, as if propelled by some invisible spring behind him, bounce forwards and fling himself over the ledge of the third floor window in which he was nested. The Helghast who took three blatantly deliberate steps towards the edge of a platform just so as he could fall off it as he died was subject to similarly transparent ‘stunt direction’. And as for the Helghast who purposefully take up static positions right next to explosive environmental hazards… if you loved Killzone 2 for its smart, tactical, co-operative, aggressive AI then you may well despise the dunderheaded cannon fodder that’s taken its place.

Killzone 3 reviewIt’s predictable to the point of utter tedium sometimes, especially early in the game when the set-pieces haven’t got going, and this is as true of the story as it is of the gameplay. Where Killzone 2’s often underappreciated narrative made a gradual transition in tone from gung ho bravado to melancholy ambiguity as events took more and more turns for the worse, Killzone 3’s is corny, clichéd, macho nonsense from start to finish. The underlying tensions between Sev and Rico that gave Killzone 2’s story much of its texture are almost immediately forgotten here and instead we get ‘heroes’ based on a formula that dates back at least as far as the mid-Seventies and Starsky & Hutch, possible even further. The Captain tells them to do the sensible thing, to which they respond by shouting ‘Bullshit!’ a lot before hatching their own hare-brained, suicidal plan which, through sheer luck, actually works thus proving that ‘gung-ho crap’ is what wins wars and keeps the universe safe from the evil machinations of tyrannical space-Nazis. The story does try to flip things around in a more meaningful direction right at the end, but really it’s too little, too late. And anyway, this attempt is almost immediately undone by a dreadfully clichéd sequel-teasing scene shown after the credits. The ending of Killzone 2 had seemed to be teeing up its sequel for an exploration of who the real villains and victims are in the Extrasolar Wars, but instead it feels more like a kid’s cartoon with swearing and gore.

So, it’s early days yet, but from a single-player point of view at least, Killzone 3 is the biggest disappointment of the year so far. It does have a few exhilarating moments, and it can probably still just about claim to have the best graphics ever, but it fundamentally plays more like a formulaic Call Of Duty clone than a successor to the current generations most intense, visceral FPS. The silver lining is that, if the beta was anything to go by, then Killzone 3’s multiplayer should be excellent and the single-player campaign’s shallowness and brevity – just four-and-a-half hours of game time for us – is an indication that, again following Call Of Duty’s lead, online play was the main area of development focus this time.



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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001025536595 Casanovaa Hassan

    Halo make me sick

  • Webmonkey

    So the single player sucks, but you dont mention the multiplayer at all which will be what a lot of people will buy it for. Poor review, try again.

  • Marcus Stockley

    ODST got a 7/10. Get your facts right.

  • Marcus Stockley

    So by saying it’s worse than it’s prequel it’s biased. What?

  • Helfire13

    Your reviews are becoming lazy and biased. When you have to spend the first half of a review talking about another game you have failed already. No Move review. No 3D review. Hell! No Killzone 3 review. And when did you start liking Killzone 2 because you have done nothing but slag it off in the past. You used to be a mag whose opinion I valued but sadly I’ve had enough of these lazy reviews.Congratulations GamesTM, you have just lost my
    subscription.

  • Marcus Stockley

    Decent review which highlights a good shooter but not a great one.

    For all the PS3 trolls spitting in the reviews face here’s a few interesting points.

    - online multiplayer is often sided to a seperate ‘online review’ section in a future issue due to the large parts of games taken up by online multiplayer functions.

    - 7/10 a bad game? No. Does it means a publication’s biased. No. The PS3 has already got previous highscoring games like Demons Souls and LBP2 so why all the biased accusations?

    - Referencing other games of the genre is common practice especially for high profile games such as COD. Why the flaming there?

    - Learn some maturity please.

  • Helfire13

    Luke Albiges? The same Luke Albiges who usually reviews xbox games including reviews for xbox 360 gamer mag? Oops! Busted!

  • Nikosaekara31

    PS3 fanboys feels sad about this review hehe

  • Horizon1

    dude, all i can say is… look at your name. I mean, seriously? Why did you even come to post. “I love trolling overhyped games that wind up being trash at the end”. How about actually DOING something with your time. No one wants your opinion.
    /rant

  • Rawr

    I hope those shitty controls in Killzone 2 are gone, atleast enough to play without getting pissed off, in Killzone 3… it was so retarded of Sony doing that.

  • Joopatroo

    Separate online review? DO I PAY FOR A SEPARATE MULTIPLAYER GAME? Then why exactly do you feel like justifying splitting a review. Here’s a clue, ADD ANOTHER PAGE and make it a complete review. I don’t give a crap if its a ‘large part’, back in the day RPG’s were 50+ hours minimum, did we used to get reviews in effing installments back then?

    Referencing does not equal the first mother effing sentence. I don’t want to click on a review for checkers and read about mother effing chess in the FIRST SENTENCE, and a million times more on top. Are you really trying to defend a review that was focused more on call of duty than killzone?

    PS: Demons souls and LBP2 got 10/10 here, but they sure as hell are not 10/10 games. So yes bias, fyi bias does not automatically mean negative, it can go all kinds of ways

    Learn to stop throwing around superiority “learn some maturity please”. Your argument doesn’t need that crap on the end, nobody needs to inflate your ego.

  • derp

    I don’t think you understand what “FACT” means

  • Owned

    derp, go design levels, design sound, design graphics, write a script, do storyboards
    I have done all that on an amateur level, emphasis on amateur. So yes FACT within the context of games. Scale of 1 to 10, P4 is rated close to perfect depending on the NOT FACT beliefs of the reviewer, but that doesn’t change the FACT that the game is a pinnacle.

    I don’t think YOU understand what FACT means

  • djram13

    I read Games TM all the time and in general agree with their reviews.

    I have to say that this review is a bit half arsed and my gut feeling is they just wanted to create a bit of a talking point. In the mag it has a standout box saying some crap like “From a single player point of view, probably the disappointment of the year”. Get a bloody grip, you review videogames games for a living. I am just a casual gamer and my expectation of the single player was that it would be a shallow add on. To be such a dissppointment what was your expectation?

    Anyway, everyone makes mistakes, my advice if you cant review a games full content dont bother and wait especially when the element you are reviewing is not the main package (and dont commit two bloody pages to it).

  • Pingback: Killzone 3 Campaign 4.5 Hours Long – [UPDATE] « Me and My PS3

  • Rtsmelly

    if its any way like cod it should be a good thing and sure cod is one of the fastest selling games of all time .that review was written by an idiot./

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