The frenzied FPS that is Killzone 3 is not your average conflict-based shooter; it thrives on epic set-pieces and incorporates a rather unique control scheme, but what sets this shooter apart from others is its character, fueled by stunning visuals, a satisfying campaign and a superb multiplayer component. It’s not often that both the single-player and multiplayer components are just as captivating as one another, but developer Guerrilla Games seems to have nailed it. Killzone 3 is sinister, challenging and unforgiving, and while its incoherent narrative may be one of its biggest issues, the gameplay does a brilliant job of quenching any need you may have for a deep FPS.
What Killzone 3 Got Right
Satisfying Gameplay and Variety – Any lack of coherent story telling is made up with great gameplay mechanics in Killzone 3. The experience is satisfying and smooth, and while the controls may take a little longer than usual to grasp in comparison to other FPS, mastering Killzone 3’s control layout feels undoubtedly rewarding. The amount of great weaponry at your disposal, including the great M82, as well as a few other Killzone 2 staples, all help portray a sense of authenticity, further conveyed by the convincing sounds of bullets piercing armour and skin. Furthermore, while the game starts off relatively slowly, it’s not long before the battles move to larger and more epic set pieces. A number of new mechanics add depth to the experience, namely Move implementation, which functions well and offers a smooth and impressive motion-controlling experience.
Explosive Campaign – While the campaign initially might seem to trek down a familiar path, Killzone 3 quickly distances itself from more generic experiences in the genre; you’ll most certainly be running and gunning a lot of the time, but it’s the enemy placement and the ways in which you progress through an area that give Killzone 3 a unique tone. Level design is superb for the most part, and while the story does a terrible job of detailing characters and important plot points, the explosive nature of the gameplay more than makes up for it. It might be a little hard to care about why you’re doing what you’re doing, but Killzone 3 doesn’t care, because it’ll throw challenge after challenge at you, whether you know what’s going on or not.
Fantastic Enemy AI – The Helghast hate you. They are relentless, intelligent and aggressive, and they will do anything to avoid your advances and compromise your hope for progression. Watch as enemies dive in all directions to avoid a live grenade, or see them quickly jump in and out of cover as you move towards them. The friendly AI is competent but not quite as effective as enemy AI, which definitely makes things harder for you. However, the enemy AI poses an immense challenge throughout the experience, making for a tough campaign.
Stunning Visuals – Just as in its predecessor, Killzone 3’s visuals are quite astonishing. Moving up over war-ravaged terrain as the sun streams in through the clouds is quite the spectacle, further channeled by the alluring brownish glow from rusted pipes, decaying buildings and piles of rubble that are scattered throughout the world. The level of detail can be quite overwhelming, especially later in the game when the set-piece battles reach colossal proportions.
Great Multiplayer and Maps – Killzone 3’s multiplayer shines through its fantastic map design; modes like Warzone (a mixture of a number of different modes) use each map to accompany a specific mode, which does a great job of mixing up the pace and changing perspective for the competitors. The great map design from Killzone 2 has been carried over to this sequel; you can never stay in one spot for too long because the map design just doesn’t allow it. This allows for a free-flowing, continuously moving and explosive multiplayer experience, which showcases how important good map design is alongside great control mechanics.
What Killzone 3 Got Wrong
Incoherent Story and Bad Pacing – Bad story telling plagues the Killzone franchise. That doesn’t change with Killzone 3, although we get a little more insight into the hatred that drives the Helghast. That said it’s still difficult to understand or even care about the motives behind some of the characters’ actions. Furthermore, the war room antics of the Helghast generals play more like a scene from 12 Angry Man than from a game about an exoplanet conflict. The story also has a significant affect on pacing, as cutscenes begin at the most inappropriate times, sometimes during large battles just as you’re getting into a hang of things. And the not-so-subtle Nazi Germany imagery is overkill to say the least.
Multiplayer Not As Rewarding – The class and unlock system in Killzone 3 has been changed, meaning you choose your class just before you enter a match. While you can enter into a match with game veterans and access the same weapons and tools as them, the leveling up system just doesn’t feel quite as rewarding, because your match skill level is no longer dictated by your own progression in the component.
The Final Verdict
For the most part, Killzone 3 is an improvement on the solid experience that was its most recent predecessor. A number of new gameplay features, including Move implementation, more stealth aspects, larger set-piece battles and a deep weapon list, make for a satisfying and engaging campaign experience. Multiplayer is a blast, too, offering a number of great modes across some superbly designed maps. Visually, few games can match Killzone 3’s level of detail, with fantastic lighting and textures rounding out a gorgeous presentation.
Very satisfying. Killzone 3 gets a lot right by offering a rather complex control system that might take a little long to master but is very rewarding.
Gorgeous set pieces and superb lighting drive the war torn world that is Helghan.
The soundtrack is nothing special, but the sound effects and battle banter is top-notch.
You’ll probably only play single-player once, but multiplayer will keep you coming back time and time again.
Relentless and satisfying