Reviews// Killzone: Liberation (PSP)

Let's do the Killzone Kerfuffle

Posted 3 Nov 2006 18:18 by
In 2003 Sony caused a bit of a ruckus in the first-person shooter community when it released screens for its latest signing, an FPS named Killzone, created by then newly-formed Guerrilla Games. The screens portrayed a visually spectacular game, with thick jungles, dank swaps and derelict shopping malls, all beautifully detailed. The Sony fans started to wonder if this was a game that could beat the Xbox's raison d'Ítre: Halo. Setting out a couple of kerosene-filled barrels next to this fanboy kindling was US mag, Official Playstation Magazine, which emblazoned its covered with the title, and the strap line "Halo killer".

Killzone turned out to be a solid shooter, yet it lacked the compelling narrative and multiplayer elements of the Xbox title. Needless to say, when Sony pulled video of the game's successor out of its bag of PS3 goodies, the "No, honest guv, it's real PS3 footage", was instantly met with disbelief and hostility. It goes without saying that Killzone has not had a smooth ride, yet beyond the fanatic-flapping and PR hype, Guerrilla has been working on a less vaunted branch in the fledgling Killzone series, this time for Sony's handheld machine.

Fight them in the trenches
Fight them in the trenches
Set in the months following the events of the original title, the PSP Liberationís campaign mode puts you back in the boots of ISA (apparently, International Strategic Arms) Squad Captain Jan Templar. Janís battle is to rid his people's planet, Vekta, from the mutant Helghast who so rudely invaded in the original game. Equipped with an assault rifle and grenades, your first missions involved making your way through battlefield trenches, taking out the occasional Helghast Trooper and generally learning the ropes. Within a few missions, you move on to finding and safely evacuating VIPs and sabotaging key Helghast facilities.

Given the PSP's limited graphical power, not to mention its lack of controller suited to FPS targeting, Guerrilla has opted for a third-person perspective. Though it may seem a little retro, reminiscent of Cannon Fodder or Chaos Engine, it's perfectly suited to the handheld, with the camera adjusting distance to accommodate targets and threats. It's certainly no ugly duckling either. Though the settings are typically brown and grey, that's what you'd expect from war torn trenches, oil refineries and docks. Even though the characters are diminutive, they're detailed and well animated, though enemies could be a little more varied.

Much like the original PS2 game, your missions are straightforward, essentially to get from A to B, taking out targets and destroying barricades along the way. Progress is always linear, again like the original title, with very few opportunities to take alternate routes and certainly no option to go off roaming the surroundings. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it ensures you stay focused on the mission, but it would be nice to have the option try a different angle off attack when, at
the same location, you repeatedly get a belly full of Helghast lead. Instead of taking a different route, you have to reassess your method of approach, namely, being tactically instead off gung-ho.

The surroundings offer plenty of cover which, when holding down the right-shoulder button, you can crouch behind while you wait for the enemy to reload. Targeting is almost most done for you, with the nearest threat in direction you are facing handily marked with a health meter. Aiming grenades is just as straightforward, with the trajectory marked out and, if an enemy happens to be within reach, the landing spot with lock-on to their location. However, the inaccuracy of the PSP's analogue nipple makes the selection of alternate targets a bit tricky, especially when you're in a close quarters battle. Similarly, making fine adjustments to the placement of a grenade becomes frustrating, with you running back and forth trying desperately to get the right spot.
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