Killzone 3 hands-on: 6 things you need to know about the gameplay

In Killzone 2, Rico, Garza and the rest of your ISA buddies weren’t really good for much aside from soaking up bullets, killing Helghast, helping you past co-op obstacles and needing to be revived when they'd soaked up too many bullets. This time around, we're told they’ll not only be smarter about how many bullets they soad up, but they'll actuallyrevive you once in a while, which should remove most of the frustration from dealing with them.

After playing through Killzone 2, one of our whining points was that there weren’t a lot of big guns to play around with, apart from the rocket and grenade launchers and the brief, wonderful appearance of the chain-lightning gun. Killzone 3 changed that twice during our demo, first by letting us pick up and use the minigun from our crashed transport craft (which slowed us down a bit, but still chewed through the Helghast ranks beautifully), and later with a rocket-launching beast called the WASP.

The WASP is big, takes a couple seconds to reload and has two firing modes. The first, activated by just holding down the trigger, sends a volley of homing missiles at whatever you’re pointed at. The second – which necessitates looking down its scope and “painting” a target before firing – ejects your entire rocket-ammunition clip as one single, devastating mortar round.

And, of course, a lot of the ISA and Helghast weapons from Killzone 2 returned during the demo, including the ISA assault rifle (which is as weirdly satisfying to use as ever) – they were just a little better-looking this time. And while we’re on the subject of weaponry, the remote-detonated bombs from the first game – which have to be armed by tilting the Sixaxis pad side to side – are back as well.

One of the criticisms developer Guerrilla sought to address with Killzone 3 was that Killzone 2’s close-up attacks – delivered with Sev’s knife or the butt of a gun – were too simplistic. This time around, rifle-butting some poor Helghast sap won’t kill them immediately, but instead puts an “L1” button prompt onscreen as they stagger from the blow. Hit it again in time, and you’ll deliver another hit, and maybe one more before killing him with a nasty, detailed stab to the chest or through the goggles.

Above: Sadly, Sony didn't give us any screens of that, so here's some more Helghast instead

The interesting thing about these is that they’re context-sensitive; sometimes you’ll simply go in for the face with the knife, but other times, you’ll slam your victim face-first against a crate or a table and then – just as he’s trying to look back at you in a daze – drive the knife into his neck. It’s a little horrific, but awfully satisfying, and hints at a much more interesting direction for Killzone 3 in general. Hopefully, we’ll see even more at E3.

May 27, 2010

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.