Tech News on G4
‘Killzone’ right on target
Oct 23, 2013
By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada
Though the PlayStation Vita still has some considerable ground to make up if it ever hopes to gain acceptance beyond its niche following, the system has been making some noble strides as of late. A recent slew of quality software has been released and Sony’s new indie initiative sees the system getting some of the best and brightest from smaller developers.
There’s still one thing that manages to elude the handheld - a decent first-person shooter. Arguably the most popular genre in all of gaming, a good FPS can be a great help for a system in dire straights. ‘Resistance’ and ‘Call of Duty’ have tried to cater to those looking to aim down their iron sites but that unfortunately turned out to be nothing more than uninspired shooting galleries with as much creativity as their respective titles. Now it’s time for Guerilla Cambridge to step up and try to break the Vita’s FPS curse with the hotly anticipated ‘Killzone: Mercenary’.
‘Mercenary’ takes place between the events of the Killzone 2 and 3. The ISA and Helghast remain locked in a brutal conflict leaving the home planets of both in ruin. At first glance, the story may seem like a thinly veiled excuse to just eradicate Helghast scum but to my surprise, what’s found here is an intriguing tale of greed, betrayal and the ugliness of war. You play as Arran Danner, a merc for hire. Danner doesn’t care which side he works for. If the pay’s good, he’s in.
While Danner himself falls into the cliché of a silent gruff merc with a knack for killing things, it’s the supporting plot and characters that really make the narrative stand out. In past ‘Killzone’ games you would always play in the boots of an ISA solider fighting the good fight and seeing things from the one perspective. ‘Mercenary’ allows the player to see the other side of the story. Since you’re not a member of either faction, you see the chaos from an un-propagandized filter. Having a neutral character in a ruthless war is great unexplored territory that Guerilla will hopefully revisit in the future.
Undoubtedly the most impressive thing technically about Mercenary is it’s running on a scaled down version of the ‘Killzone 3’ engine. Though concessions had to be made, the visuals are stunning, especially for a portable title. This is an impressive technical feat by Developer Guerrilla Cambridge and really puts the power of the Vita on display.
While console quality graphics and a noteworthy storyline make ‘Mercenary’ memorable, it’s hard to look past its incredibly short campaign mode that’ll run you roughly four hours. Some points are won back by the games multiplayer but it still feels like the scripted action ends far too quickly.
When Danner’s story wraps up some of the game’s best moments lie in wait. Multiplayer is something the ‘Killzone’ series always excelled at and Mercenary is certainly no exception. Spanning three game types, the competitive mode is hands down some of the best online action to be found on the Vita. Four-on-four battles across medium to close range maps make for exhilarating encounters. The trademark weighty feel of ‘Killzone’ is in full effect and brings the tactility fans have come to expect from the series. Though not as fleshed out as its console brethren, the competitive modes are sure to find long staying power.
The longing for a great FPS on the Vita has finally ended. ‘Killzone: Mercenary’ does everything a shooter needs to and then some. Though it’s campaign is a little on the short side, it remains a must buy for shooter fans.
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