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Killzone: Liberation - hands-on

Turning first-person shooters into overhead-perspective action games for handhelds is hardly a new idea, but Killzone: Liberation might be the first game to really nail it. A spinoff of 2004's futuristic FPS Killzone, Liberation casts players as one of that game's characters - a commando named Templar - and runs them through blasted trenches and colossal industrial complexes in a campaign to rescue hostages from the Nazi-like Helghast army.

We recently got our hands on a near-complete version of the game, and we're surprised at how much depth there is to Liberation. While the action unfolds from a top-down view, it's still fully 3D, and we don't just mean the graphics (although those are pretty cool, featuring sharp textures, beautiful explosions and lots of ragdoll-like flying bodies). Each stage has plenty of elevated areas, and keeping the high ground or taking cover on the low ground factors heavily into gameplay. This also gives certain enemies - like the exploding spider robots that like to sit and wait for you to pass under certain arches - a place to hide.

While stomping our way through the first mission's gritty trenches and smoldering ruins, we were immediately struck by how simple the controls are. You'll aim automatically at the stormtrooper-looking Helghast thugs (assuming they're in your line of fire), while other, more explosive objects can be targeted by holding down both shoulder buttons. Tossing grenades was only slightly more complicated - hit the button once, use the yellow arc that pops up to aim (it'll also locks onto enemies automatically), and then hit it again to throw.

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