E3 06: Killzone: Liberation hands-on

It's no secret that first-person shooters are tough to do properly on PSP, thanks to a rather limited control scheme. So we're not surprised that developer Guerilla thought long and hard about how best to recreate its fps hit Killzone, originally a PS2 title, for the PSP. What did surprise us, in a very pleasant way, was the solution Guerilla came up with - switching to an isometric, third-person view - and how well the resulting game plays after such a drastic overhaul.

The controls, thanks to this new view, are explosively easy to grasp. Square shoots, circle tosses a grenade, triangle reloads, and X is an all-purpose action button, good for opening chests, activating instrument panels, taking command of turret guns, and so on. You can also kneel to give yourself better aim, though that obviously affects your mobility.

Speaking of explosive, your arsenal remains fully capable of filling the attractive level layouts with blooms of golden fire and splashes of crimson corpuscles. You've got arrows that detonate on impact, machine guns, the aforementioned grenades, rocket launches, mines ... plenty of stuff that goes boom.

In the ad-hoc multiplayer sessions we enjoyed (infrastructure modes are planned as well), we found ourselves hunting one another in what seemed to be a junkyard, or possibly just a very heavily bombed-out neighborhood. The keys to the match were the footlockers, storage chests randomly placed about the level and which both sides can use to replenish health and ammo or obtain new weapons.

Moving into the single-player mode, we discovered a remarkably tactical experience. Infiltrating a warehouse filled with glowy-eyed Helghast baddies, we noticed multiple routes and admirably intelligent enemies - you can't just run and gun here.

We'll have more on Killzone: Liberation as we get closer to its Holiday 2006 release. It looks like solid proof that first-person shooters can be done well on PSP ... sort of.

May 12, 2006