Reviews// Killzone 3

Posted 3 Feb 2011 17:43 by
Helping you navigate the ditritus corridor during much of the single player campaign you’re accompanied by a computer-controlled buddy, typically Rico. He essentially fills the spot that would be taken by a friend in split screen co-operative play. And when I say “help”, there’s more than a little irony in my keypresses.

Unfortunately for single players, the AI is a bit naff and you’ll probably find yourself doing one of two things; following him blindly as he pushes forward, only to realise you’re getting shot in the back because he’s pushed on before all the enemy are cleared. Alternatively, if you let him run ahead he’ll end up injured and incapacitated, whining incessantly about you taking your own good time to secure the area. To shut him up, give him a zzzap with the “magic spark of life” device you’ll be familiar with from Killzone 2.

Of course, the ultimate answer to this is to play in co-operative split screen. This mode follows the same path as the single player, but without that added annoyance of stupid AI.

If your friend continually gets injured, you can always beat some sense into them with the rubber ball on the end of the Move controller, because that’s about all the Move is good for in this mode - for some reason it’s unavailable, no doubt due to it being confusing as to what is considered full left or right when you only have half the screen.

Take note, however, that there’s no online co-operative play. Given that the levels are designed for both single and co-op play, it’s feels like a bit of a missed opportunity that you can’t have a player drop in or out as you play.

Visually, well, it’s a thing to behold. The quality of the graphical production cannot be faulted one bit. Each character’s facial features can be measured on a pores-per-pixel scale, which goes as much for the incidental characters as it does the pro/antagonists. The scenery delivers on scale, with vast ships and towering machines, and also down to the intricate detail, and as already mentioned, there’s more variety in the environments.

Layered on top of that are the environmental effects; the thick rain of nuclear fallout, showers of spume sent skyward as the icy ocean pummels the shore, and thick pillars of smoke that actually look tangible, and more than a few mere fuzzy blobs added as an afterthought. I'd dearly love to check this out in (eyepopping) 3D, but at the moment I’ll have to put up with 50 inches of plain old 2D.

Welcome to Clichéville
Disappointingly the narrative doesn’t occupy the same mantle. There’s no improvement from the game’s predecessors, and nothing compelling in terms of gripping plot; no enigma to uncover or endearing characters to root for.

The best you can hope for is some strange energy source that makes a mess of people’s trousers, and a bit of political in-fighting as military heads wrangle with weapons contractor Stahl for power. Infuse this with an heavy dollop 20th century Soviet and Nazi typecasting, and it’s all a bit “Welcome to Clichéville”.

The Malcolm McDowell-voiced Stahl is the classic cocky-but-runty SS officer, who for some reason bears more than a passing resemblance to Batman’s The Joker. For the Helghast Admiral, voiced by Ray Winston, think the chubby chops of Joseph Stalin. Hells, this shouldn’t be any surprise. The theme's been with the series from the moment you saw the Hig’s Stormtrooper-modelled helmet, but it’s worn more than a little thin now.

The dialogue continues to be clumsy despite this raft of well respected actors. In fact, I’m sure I caught Stahl uttering dialogue paraphrasing a Joker line from the Tim Burton Batman movie. Perhaps the visual resemblance was affecting my hearing. While the delivery of the voice acting is top-notch, the polish just isn’t there in the scripting. Furthermore, voice audio within the game feels like it’s the poor, ginger relation of the sumptuous visuals.

Often times the lip-syncing is out my a mile during cinematics, and the mix too low against the incidental music, which doesn’t match the in-game mix where the vocals easily stand out from the ambient and music. Both in game and in cinematics the vocals have only occasionally been processed to fit the scene, so voices mostly seem like we’re sat in a studio and not on the deck of a Raptor that’s tearing through the skies. Fortunately, all other audio is spot on, from the general background chatter to the use of 5.1 surround.

It’s too early to comment on the multiplayer. In the beta, frankly I found it needed some balancing. I rarely got far from my spawn point without near immediate death from afar. As that was beta code, it wouldn’t be fair to take a view on it right now as there’s every possibility it’s been tweaked, honed and buffed.

So what it is that brings players back to Killzone. I’m still at a loss to quantify it. It surely cannot be the story, and I’d bet my first born that it’s not the dialogue. As for the gameplay, it ticks all the boxes but still doesn’t bring any new juice to the party - unless those moments of on-rails gunning float your boat. As much as I’m loathed to entertain the notion, I think it might actually be the visuals. By god, it’s bloody lovely. Better than a previz pre-render, I’d say.

Killzone 3 is more than a feast for the eyes; it’s like being force-fed high protein pixels. This doesn’t, however, make up for the forgettable story and dialogue so bad I almost wept in shame. Wrapping a game that looks this good in narrative this bad is shameful. Supporting Move is a brave choice, but aside from that and the support of 3D the game doesn't really bring anything the new to FPS gaming. Still, the gameplay is all there in abundance - bar the online co-op - so skip the cinematics, get a mate around with a few beers and you’ll be tearing new holes in Higs ‘til the cows are home, slaughtered and served up, medium rare.

SPOnG score: 87%
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HeavY 3 Feb 2011 18:48
"Supporting Move is a brave choice, but aside from that and the support of 3D the game doesn't really bring anything the new to FPS gaming."

Call of Duty didn't bring anything new to the genre either yet you reviewers never complain about teh innovationzzz on CoD reviews.
pierre89 3 Feb 2011 22:20
no matter how a ps3 game is, no matter how it's graphics are the best ever seen, etc etc, xbox games will still score better. that's a fact.

it's impossible to an american website (don't know if spong is american) to give credit to a ps3 game, and give the score it deserves.

xbox games, even if they take 2 hours to finish, will always be "the best experience ever, bla bla bla".

everything that come from outside america, will be treated like s**t, and unfortunately, for us, gamers, maybe 70% or more big games related websites are from america, therefore they will always promote national s**t, even if its a big s**t, and sony, will always be treated like an enemy, as the result ps3 games will always score lower, if it's a multi platform, and if it's a BIG huge ps3 exclusive game, these websites will strive to spread the word that the game is crap, bla bla bla, short, bla bla bla, and so on, even if it has the best graphics, the best lightening effects, the best everything, it will always get a 6-7/10. no ps3 exclusive game should get a 9 or a 10, in america, so people buy national s**t. people buy xboxs, knowing they wll rrod sooner or later. and they get one rrod, they buy a second one. and a third one. just because its american, they will buy s**t. if the ps3 had the rrod return rate the xbox360 has, even obama would be talking about it, in the whitehouse.

castlevania, enslaved, gt5, lbp2 and others were Day one for me. Killzone 3, resistance 3, uncharted 3 and many others will be day one for me as well.

if there weren't all these hundresds of xbox fanboy websites killing every game on the ps3, with s**tty scores, sony would have sold at least 60 million ps3, at the moment. but with all the hate from the usa people, reviewers, gamers, and all the effort they put on giving bad scores to ps3 games, it's normal many people buy xbox, whose games are always perfect,

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config 4 Feb 2011 12:00
SPOnG is a very British site. I'm offended you'd think otherwise. Hrrmph :)

Not sure I agree on the assertion that PS3 games will always score lower than 360's, or that everyone hearts CoD more even though it too isn't innovative. On SPOnG, Blops scored 92%. That 5% diff is more likely to be down to it playing better than it simply being CoD, or a that the reviewer played it on 360 (which I believe he did)

I've kicked the tyres of KZ3 and though it's definitely fun, but it's also just a but humdrum. That's prolly down to the rubbish story because I never found Half-life to be all that innovative from any other FPS - it was the story and the universe it was set in that made it utterly compelling. If you're gonna make a big deal out of a story within a game, you'd better make it a really good story. Otherwise, what's the point? Surely it's there to draw you in and make you want to play one ... more ... level, not to make you click "skip".

In the beta MP games I spent more time respawning and getting lost in the massively complex arenas than I did enjoying it, but I kinda put that down to it being a limited pool of very experienced FPSers making the matchmking a bit s**te.
PreciousRoi 5 Feb 2011 22:20
Between the name and his attitude toward America, this guy is either French...or an American...

As the Forum's Imperial American Jingo in Residence I feel compelled to respond.

Of course, Pierre's statements are utterly ridiculous. Does the Xbox 360 sell better in the US than everywhere else? Absolutely. Is this because the Xbox is "Made in America*"? To a lesser extent, Yes. To a greater extent, Yes, but once removed. But is this difference due to Xenophobic or Patriotic tendencies in American consumers and its games media? Absolutely, Unequivocally, Not.

The Xboxes may be designed and sold by an American company, but Microsoft managed the incredible feat of insinuating itself into the console marketplace dominated by Sony and Nintendo first on the strength of the original Xbox' hardware and superior capabilities, and by becoming identified with that most American of game genres, the First Person Shooter. So sure, the Xbox has been "the American console"...but that is, a "software issue", if you will. Halo, Ghost Recon, Rainbow 6, built-in Ethernet, and System Link, followed by LIVE! established its brand identity. Games like Splinter Cell, Forza Motorsports and Knights of the Old Republic proved that the original Xbox could deliver a Best of Breed experience outside of the First Person Shooter genre. It certainly had better graphics and lighting effects than the PS2. Is it so incredible that combining that success with an earlier street date than the PS3 would give the 360 a nice share of the market in the US? But the Wii and PS3 are still incredibly popular in fact, I'd make the argument that there are more people in the US prejudiced against the 360 because it ISN'T "Japanese" than those prejudiced toward it because it is "American". As for people buying replacement consoles...I certainly remember plenty of people who went though 3 or more original PlayStations due to optical disk and other problems...but I guess since there wasn't a sexy name like RROD no one really remembers that...

You want somewhere the consumers are Xenophobic and Jingoistic, I think everyone in the world knows where you can find them, wakari-mas? certainly isn't America, we'll buy anything.

*Malaysia actually, I think.
sad sack 6 Feb 2011 03:57

so wii and nintendo DS games should get a low score? considering their actual games and how middle-market they are they seem to be overachieving.

if you want to be taken seriously, pierre, try changing to an american username like "chuck" or "deshawndre".

obviously the above is a pardoy of your own strange paranoid pov. wahh waahhh wahhh waaahhh
PurpleGekko 11 Feb 2011 13:37
"...or picking the perfect moment to quietly suggest a Hig and his trachea are best kept apart." <3
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