They’re even better if you can bring a friend along, so those of you disappointed to see co-op left out of Killzone 2 will be happy to know that it’s been added to KZ3, with Cpl. Shawn Natko (who’s otherwise completely absent from the story) filling in as Player Two to Sev’s Player One. There’s a catch, though: it’s split-screen only, and your progress in the co-op campaign is completely separate from your single-player progress.
While the lack of an online option (or, for that matter, a jump-in/jump-out feature) is a letdown, the split-screen feature actually works pretty well. There were times when the square onscreen windows felt a little restrictive (turns out Helghast are very good at hiding in our peripheral-vision blind spots), or when the framerate stuttered a little, but overall there wasn’t any significant slowdown or loss of clarity. Here, watch it in action for yourself:
Much as we like the addition of co-op, it’s hardly the best multiplayer experience Killzone 3 offers. For that, you need to go online.
Multiplayer in Killzone 3 is, like we said earlier, much more accessible than what Killzone 2 offered. In Killzone 2, for example, everyone started off as a grunt, with basic weaponry, and it wasn’t until you’d ranked up five times that you’d even get the option to play as a medic. By contrast, Killzone 3 offers five classes right off the bat – Tactician, Infiltrator, Engineer, Field Medic and Marksman – and gives you points with each rank-up that you can then put toward class-specific perks.
The difference is clear: with all the classes open from the start, multiplayer becomes less about grinding and more about experimenting with different weapons and abilities to see what suits you best, and things are kept fresher in the process. As an Infiltrator, for instance, you can disguise yourself as an enemy and take them out at close range for a big score – although Tacticians will be able to see through your disguise and point you out to other players (and can also capture territory more quickly). Meanwhile, Engineers can build turrets, Marksmen can turn invisible (and, eventually, hide their teammates from radar view), and Field Medics can not only rack up experience by healing teammates, but can also revive themselves from “death” once per round.
The maps feel a lot bigger than before, with a couple even featuring jetpacks and EXO mechs to drive, and the actual gameplay’s divided into three modes: Guerrilla Warfare (basically just team deathmatch), Warzone (which cycles through a series of five different objectives), and Operations, a new mode in which a defensive and offensive team fight over a series of mission objectives. Operations games are like self-contained, multiplayer campaigns, in that the offensive team gradually plows through defenses (or is turned away from them) to open up more of the map, with cutscenes (featuring the best players) following each stage of the fight. So far, we’ve had the most fun with Operations, although it’ll be interesting to see whether it or Warzone will have more staying power in the coming months.
As fun as the multiplayer is, it’s far from KZ3’s most talked-about feature. So now that this thing is winding down, let’s move on to the two things Sony’s been pushing hardest:
Some people love playing shooters on the Wii. I’m not one of them; it’s awkward, and having to keep the Wii remote aimed at the TV is a wrist-cramping drag. By contrast, playing Killzone 3 with Move felt much more comfortable and responsive. Minimal movement was needed to aim, the few “gesture” commands were as simple as flicking the Move wand, and a lock-on feature ensured pinpoint accuracy. It’s still not quite as natural as simply using a controller, but if you’ve been eager for a “real” game to play with Move, it won’t disappoint.
Move also makes for a fun complement to KZ3’s 3D feature, which is pretty slick if your TV supports it, adding a cool depth-of-field effect to what’s already a very pretty game. You won’t miss much by not having 3D (and to be honest, it felt a little eye-straining), but it does help make some of the game’s more explosive moments – like the jetpack flight, or the near-endgame battle against a skyscraper-sized mech called the MAWLR – even more visually impressive.
Killzone 2? Yes. While some die-hards will disagree, Killzone 3 keeps its action moving at a faster, more entertaining clip than its predecessor, and ends up a much more varied, exciting experience as a result. The scale feels bigger, the battles more important and the story a little more personal, making this much more than just another bleak follow-up.
Call of Duty: Black Ops? No. The campaigns are about on par, so this one comes down to multiplayer – and this is where Black Ops has the edge (PS3 bugs notwithstanding), with more maps and more play modes – including, of course, “Five” zombies. A 24-player Operations match in KZ3 might be something to behold, but so is getting swarmed by legions of the undead at the Pentagon.
Halo: Reach? Yes if we’re talking about single-player; no if we’re talking multiplayer. Again, KZ3’s multiplayer action is great, but it’s damn hard to hold a candle to something as endlessly customizable, replayable and silly as Reach’s version of same. But KZ3, with its relentless gunfights and ridiculous set-pieces, easily outshines Reach’s comparatively so-so campaign, and looks a hell of a lot prettier in the process.
Correcting seemingly every complaint critics had about Killzone 2, Killzone 3 is visually impressive, relentlessly entertaining and far more fun than we expected. This is everything a good sequel should be.
Feb 3, 2011
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