Friday, August 31, 2012

Killzone 3 review

I've finished the campaign mode of Killzone 3 last night which was a little surprising as I'd only started it on Tuesday. So that's maybe 6 hours of gameplay.

I've been with the franchise since the beginning and slowly despaired at the turns they were taking. In the very first game you got to choose your player type at the start of each mission which in turn determined your style of play. In the second they dropped all that and just plonked you in the body of whomever they wanted and handed you the weapons they thought you'd need. In this the third (and I hope) last of the series they've done exactly the same thing.

In essence they've taken the second game and upped the graphics; it even keeps that  truly stupid 'move the controller to move the wheel' action that I can't even call a mini-game. It only appears maybe five times but  each time it jarred me completely as I tried to remember what to do. Buttons - press circle; replenish ammo - press circle; prime a charge - hold R1 or L1 and physically twist the controller the right way. I hated it then and I hate it now it's pointless; a meaningless 'look at our six-axis motion controllers' crap that just shows they're not innovating in the slightest.

But one jarring experience is not enough to ruin a game so let me talk about the others. Killzone is a first person shooter with standard enough controls until after a cutscene you're dropped into a vehicle. Okay I don't steer and just move the target cursor around to shoot; I can cope with that. Oh another vehicle... and I've just driven over a cliff because in this one I'm supposed to be steering as well. Let's ignore the fact this is a two-person vehicle and there are two-people in it just like last time; no this time I'm trying to aim at darting enemies while steering around a narrow twisting ice trail with explosions in my face obscuring the view while trying to interpret the HUD as to whether my weapons can fire and how bad my shields are barring the incessant sirens warning me about my shields.

So that's the next bad point the interface. How much ammo do I have left? I don't know until I start shooting; grenades? Shrug. Which of the three types of weapon I'm carrying will this pickup replace? Well at least I've got my trusty Light machine gun from just before the cut-scen... where's my bloody LMG?

Yep Killzone 3 will issue you weapons at the start of the mission that you can't pick or choose from (I'd really like to have kept the stealth rifle that I got to use for a single mission) and take away any you picked up earlier. Oh no I've just crashed my ride (in a cutscene) but at least I managed to hold on to my standard issue rifle (that I'd dumped for something else earlier) and my useless shotgun pistol that requires me to be standing right next to a fully-targeted enemy to have any effect; I wish I could have managed to hold onto that disintegrator though; sigh.

So yeah I ended up starting each mission determining what weapons I had and then rarely changing them unless I specifically knew what I was changing them for. Rocket Launcher for an LMG? Yeah I'll do that. M82 Assault Rifle for an StA-52 Assault Rifle? Um?

Missions suffered the same problems as the second game's - what do I do. Sure you can hit the up key and it'll show you a way point, but they're so close to you a compass would have made more sense. In one mission I'd been tracked to a spot and had to make my way out. I died six times in a small area just trying to find the exit due to the waypoints trying to hold my hand every step of the way rather than just "you need to get here". Seriously when the waypoints lead you through the enemy rather than around them there's a problem.

Death too was a problem. Oh the game did a good job of saving and restarting was quick and fluid, and I've no objection to dying when I've done something wrong, but at lot of the time I was dying due to due to things I couldn't see or had no idea would cause a problem. That wreckage of the space ship I just destroyed killed me because wreckage had never been a problem before. Shot while replenishing ammo because I'd snapped to the side of the box rather than the front as I'd always done before. Taking cover and getting shot because unlike all my enemies I can't actually duck behind cover.

Oh cover; what a balls-up. Cover isn't cover you can't snap to it it doesn't protect you and is totally useless. I ended up just charging out firing wildly then running back to the nearest man-sized vertical crate to stand behind while my health regenerated.

Was there anything good about it... graphically it was excellent; even though on occasion cutscene audio and video would unsync. AI was surprisingly good - grenades were used to flush me out; if I retreated to an ammo stash the enemy would follow rather than staying in some invisible demarcation zone. But sadly none of that made up for the true mess of the rest of the game.

Such a shame - this is basically Very Pretty Generic Action Shooter. Just not that engaging and a let-down for the entire series; particularly the finale's "Press Circle to Win".