I broke down and bought the game anyhow, thanks to Amazon's $20 credit. Without that, I probably wouldn't have played this until much later. I got the game on release and was mildly excited to play it. I popped the game in, played some online and started the story. At this point, I started to become more and more aware of the subtle changes and improvements the game has seen since its predecessor. This game is a true sequel and it's worth every bit of your hard earned cash.
The story mode here is admittedly short, but it's also a lot of fun. I've played almost every shooter released this generation and I'm rarely impressed by the single player campaigns. COD hasn't sparked my interest (or been any good) since Modern Warfare and the Battlefield: Bad Company games never really had a story mode to write home about. Even KZ2's story mode didn't feel like anything special. I think that changed with KZ3. The single player campaign is non-stop action and the gameplay is so well varied that it's nearly impossible to be bored with it.
The story takes place right after the last game in which you killed Visari, one of Helghan's leaders. As part of the ISA your job is to fight the overwhelming Helghast army and just try to get off the planet safely. While you are doing that, there is a power struggle within the Helghan ranks between Admiral Orlock and gun manufacturer Jorhan Stahl on how to wipe out the remaining ISA troops. Within that power struggle comes a plan to destroy Earth and it's up to you, as Sev, to save the world. I'd be lying if I didn't say the plot has holes and on its own it's nothing special. It does an adequate job of moving you forward but it's nothing worth connecting to.
Thankfully, that doesn't really matter. The story is just a means to get you to awesome set piece after awesome set piece. When I said the game had non-stop action, I wasn't lying. You'll start off in familiar territory but soon travel to Helghan Jungles, a high-tech weapons plant and a frozen sea; no polar bear would want a part of. Along the way you will ride in tanks, mechs, ice saws and space ships. You'll be using some of the Helghast's futuristic weaponry to take down everything in sight. The game splits up the action and has you do so many different things that it never feels like "just" another shooter. Some of the new weapons are very fun to work with. There is an Arc Cannon which fires a green orb that pulls all enemies into the centre and tears them apart. Then there is the WASP which can fire 9 rockets at once to provide a devastating blow to any Helghan armor. Thankfully the bolt-gun makes its return and it might be one of the most satisfying guns I've used in an FPS in a long time. The mix of activities, weapons and areas all work together to make this a great single player experience.
The only real change to the gameplay, and this carries over to multiplayer as well, is the "weight" of the characters has been reduced from the last instalment. Last time around so many people complained that the characters moved way too slowly and people whined about how it wasn't COD. Well, that was a stylistic choice for KZ2 and it was one I loved. The weight made you feel like you were on the battlefield. In reality, you can't throw a knife across a river, gun down 2 people behind you and then throw a grenade in the span of 5 seconds. The game reflected that. So I am sure some people will be happy when I say that the weight has been toned down quite a bit. Even though I very much so enjoyed the controls of the last game, it's hard to see the quicker, more responsive controls as anything being an upgrade. It's still not COD quick, but it's quicker than it was.
Something that helps to make this game as fun as it is, is the audio/visual competent. I think this game is tied with Uncharted 2 as the best looking console game to ever be released. The maps are rendered well and provide a lot of variety. The animations are out of this world. Reloading a gun has never been so beautiful in any game before this. The Helghan's have rag doll physics which ensures that every bullet makes their bodies react accordingly. The brutal melee attack is so visceral that every time it happens it puts a smile on your face. Guerrilla Game's wasn't satisfied with only making the game pretty to look at, it sounds wonderful as well. Every sound effect is perfect, the music in cut scenes is on a Star Wars level and the voice acting is all very well done. Killzone 3 is an absolute assault on every one of your senses and that helps to make it as satisfying as it is.
Another thing that returns from Killzone 2 is the boss battles that actually feel like boss battles. I think I speak for most Killzone fans in saying that the fight against Radec in KZ2 is one of the all-time greats for FPS games. Well, there is a battle here that blows it away. I'm not going to spoil it other than to say that the boss is huge, loud and the battle takes a long time. Probably the most fun I've had with a first person boss battle.
Of course, so many people in the world of gaming don't even care about single player story lines anymore, they just want to go online and shoot people. Killzone 3's got you covered. Overall the multiplayer is largely the same as 2008's instalment and that's not a bad thing. Warzone is probably the game people are most likely to play. It contains 7 different objectives during a game and winning 4 of the 7 events gets your team the win. The events are the same as the last time around with assassination, body count, propaganda speakers and search & destroy missions. Other game types include Guerrilla Warfare (team death match) and a new mode called Operations. In operations you do the objective type missions from Warzone and they are typically just one of the search & destroy missions.
The class based system is back and it has some people whining. There were some things removed that people really liked. First off, there is no more assault class, something I personally am very happy for. The assault class was just there for killing and killing doesn't really help you win at Warzone. But don't worry n00b tubers; there are still rocket launchers to unlock. Other things that changed are spawn grenades, or lack thereof. Instead of spawn grenades there are several tactical spawn points on each map. Securing them is just like getting a capture and hold point. You select the Tactician, go near a spawn point and wait for it to be secured, thus allowing your team to spawn there. I think it's an infinitely better system than spawn grenades. All the spawn grenades led to were a cluster of enemies in one area and almost everyone would instantly die. It was kind of fun, but for the sake of playing a tactical game, spawn grenades completely ruined that. The spawn points are much fairer to each team and they never result in a cluster of 20 people in one area just spawning, getting a kill and then dying. Another change I like is the security bots which follow certain classes around the map, specifically the Medic. It's a great protection tool. I also like that engineers are only allowed to put down one turret and only tacticians can call in one large sentry bot at a time.
The class system used now has an unlock system that uses points from levelling up. You are able to spend the points on new weapons or you can upgrade your abilities. The upgrade system is fair and pretty balanced. It allows you to focus on your favorite class or it gives you a chance to try the different abilities out with other classes. One disappointment in this system is that you can no longer mix classes. In Killzone 2 you were able to mix and match your primary skill with whatever secondary skill you wanted. While I would prefer that remained in the game, I think each class is very well-balanced and most people should be satisfied with their options. I think the bottom line is that if you loved Warzone from the last instalment, you'll love it here as well.
The game certainly has some faults to point out, but I didn't find any of them to be game breakers. The single player is a little on the short side coming in at 6 or 7 hours for your first play through. While it's shorter than other games, it's more fun, so the time spent feels more satisfying than it might with oh, I don't know, Call of Duty 19. The other major issue is the removal of statistics. Why was it that we could have 20 pages of stats for multiplayer games in 2008, but not in the 2011 version? The stats are honestly kind of pathetic by comparison and I'd bet money that a future patch will bring them back. I am sure you can find more complaints from people who were mad that the one thing they enjoyed got removed, but I have very little to complain about.
I'd be a bad person if I didn't talk about 2 of the additions to multiplayer while mentioning so many subtractions. Jet packs. Yeah, I know Halo did it first, but they didn't do it this well. The jet pack is a great tool to make yourself more powerful but it's balanced enough that it's not going to make you a god on the playing field. With the jet pack you are able to jump very high and slowly descend. You are given a very powerful machine gun that over heats if you hold the trigger too long. The jet pack is a great tool for defending or killing assassination targets. It gets you to capture and hold areas quickly. When used correctly it's not only fun, it's powerful. The other addition is the exo. This thing is a guardian. It can kill foot soldiers quickly and it can be used to guard large areas. Both of these new tools are a lot of fun to use and they are balanced enough to not throw everything off.
If you are in the market for a new FPS and you're tired of the Call of Duty or the Battlefield series, this is a great change of pace. The game might not do anything all that differently that Killzone 2 doesn't, but what it lacks in originality it makes up for with a lot of fun. It's bigger, prettier and more fun than a lot of the recent shooters out there. The multiplayer component is fantastic and it will be well supported by Guerrilla. If you own a PS3 and you love sci-fi shooters, this is the game you've been waiting for since the last one. It had potential to disappoint, but in my eyes, that didn't come close to happening.
Story & Presentation:
The story is a little weak but the presentation is on a cinematic level.
Best looking console game out there next to Uncharted 2.
The single player is a blast and the multiplayer has a ton to offer.
The audio goes right along with the graphics, it's fantastic every step of the way.
It's actually pretty easy. I know that's a disappointment to those who earned KZ2's platinum, but this is one more that people will have a shot at getting.
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