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Killzone 3 hits the usual notes, add in 3D and Move controls though and you have something not only very functional, but really rather exciting. This feels like the future.
When I first rejoined the gaming world, the lines of battle between the different platform holders were drawn hard and fast. Since then we've seen Mass Effect come to PS3, Grand Theft Auto IV go cross platform and Metal Gear make an appearance on the 360.
This sort of traffic was unheard of back when I used to play games on my Megadrive and SNES. Mario and Sonic were destined to forever stay attached to their respective consoles, or so we thought.
With the dust settling the PS3 has managed to carve out a new set of exclusives to re-establish some of these old battle lines. Motorstorm Apocalypse (PS3) and Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception both offer a genuine reason to own Sony's console. But more than these, it's the first person shooter that really holds sway for hard core gamers -- enter Killzone 3.
It picks up the dying events of Killzone 2, as a power struggle erupts between various Helghast generals. Corruption is everywhere, and the ISA troops find that regime change was not all they thought it might be.
They have regrouped and rearmed in a scenario that is set to be the most impressive Killzone of the trilogy. It's still clearly Killzone, you can recognise the cold, rusted mechanical look from across a room, but now there is flora, fauna and ice to be found amongst the technological detritus.
The changes on the table for Killzone 3 go beyond mere aesthetics though. It is promised (ed: oh the endless promise of videogames) to be a more open experience. The levels themselves are larger and invite more exploration, but also progression through these spaces can accommodate multiple routes.
Even a short time with the game reminds you of moments past where Killzone has done its number on you and your comrades as you are suddenly funnelled into an inescapable choke point.
But for me it is the minutiae of battle that holds the most promise in these sorts of games.
Killzone 3 punctuates these wide open spaces and hourglass funnels with dramatic set pieces. Here you take on massive enemy structures and vehicles in a much more detailed interaction than we have seen here before.
But for me it is the minutiae of battle that holds the most promise in these sorts of games. I'm still waiting for an experience that can live up to those Halo moments (ed: eek, not sure you can legally say that in a Killzone review) of encountering an enemy that is as convincing as a human opponent.
Killzone finally turns its attention to this sort of detail in this third outing. There is much more emphasis on offering more ways to deal with close quarters combat. A new mechanic, imaginatively named 'the brutal melee system', brings brawling gameplay to the battlefield as players punch, kick and pinch Helghast enemies to the ground. Or, perhaps more effectively, smash them in the head with a rifle butt.
It sounds a little comical to explain, but firsthand this really adds to the grist of the battle. There is something very believable about these encounters now, so much that I actually looked away a couple of times as I had triggered the finishing moves to kill my downed foe.
The PlayStation 3 is obviously being pushed to within an inch of its life here - the lack of a four player split screen mode evidence that there is very little spare horsepower. But happily this hasn't stopped Guerrilla making the most out of other PS3 technology.
Move introduces much more of a sense of precision to the aiming.
This is the second PS3 game to support 3D after the impressive Gran Turismo 5 (PS3). This works better than you might imagine on a first person shooter. Not only does it deliver the sort of headlines we are usually fed about 3D gaming - the improved depth perceptions and sense of distance - but it also added to the sense of an enemy Helghast soldier rushing towards you. The increased sense of contact and blood splattering effects are hard to describe but make the whole experience almost disturbing in its reality.
The other Sony technology to get a proper hardcore run-out in Killzone 3 is the Move controls. The Move and Navigation (or sideways Dualshock) controllers are used in place of the usual twin stick configuration. It is a very different way to play and takes a considerable time to get used to.
Move introduces much more of a sense of precision to the aiming, but as well as this it substantially adjusts the way Killzone 3 plays. The Move pointer is used to lead the gun around the screen, so there is a slight delay to the movement that works to give a sense of weight to the weapon. It also offers a lock on and track mechanic once the enemy is in your sights.
While some may balk at such substantial changes to accommodate the new controller, it is actually testament to how well Guerrilla understands the benefits and limitations of these kinds of motion controller.
You can also access cover with a single press of the Move button, as opposed to the more fiddly crouch and lock on mechanic offered by the traditional Dualshock controls. But it's not until you start aiming at distance in the heat of the battle that the Move controls really start to make sense. There is just so much accuracy available here - it's simply another world to the Dualshock sticks - perhaps hovering somewhere between that and a PC mouse and keyboard for fidelity. All this can be adjusted via the options menu, so purists can turn off the assist and newcomers can increase the dead-zone for easier looking around.
The thought of playing Killzone 3 with the Move controls in 3D is simply mouth watering.
This is rounded off with various motions that add Manhunt-like smashing, hitting and stamping gestures to the already visceral close combat experience. Taken all together these various aspects of control manage to mesh. So much so that I found going back to the old controller was a little painful.
For someone like me who is still catching up on gaming technology the thought of playing Killzone 3 with the Move controls in 3D is simply mouth watering. I'm not sure I have enough space in my lounge to play co-operatively with two Move controls, but for my solo play through of Killzone 3 I'm going to give the Move controls a really good go.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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