Review: Killzone 3

What if you don't play Killzone 3 in 3D?
By MITCH KRPATA  |  March 17, 2011

It's come to this. As if mandatory system updates and routine software patches weren't enough, console games now support so much peripheral hardware that folks with different set-ups might as well not be playing the same game. Killzone 3 is the flagship of Sony's efforts to push 3D TVs (preferably a Sony!). It also urges players to pick up the PlayStation Move, the PS3's answer to the Wii remote. This is the future, folks — the very expensive future.

So, full disclosure: I played Killzone 3 in the pauper's way, without a three-dimensional display or Move support. If you play it while wearing cataract sunglasses and holding a light-up ice-cream cone, Killzone 3 may well be a revolution. But with a gamepad and a 2D display (in high definition for me, at least — pity the standard-def owner), it is much, much more of the same. In Killzone's case, that's bad and good.

Bad, because it's hard to imagine a more joyless, self-serious shooter. In cutscenes, a council of warlords based on real-life tyrants like Hitler and Stalin scheme to destroy humanity while we're treated to detailed close-ups of their craggy faces, bristly moustaches, and gaping nostrils. Even more unpleasant: a new melee system ensures brutal up-close kills in which your character slits throats, breaks necks, and gouges eyeballs. (Wonder what that looks like in 3D!) The campaign is a slog through waves of opponents whose body armor can absorb dozens of bullets while still allowing them to move swiftly enough that targeting with your analog stick feels like a cruel joke.

The game's default control set-up is baffling on its own — it's as if the designers had consulted standard schemes for first-person shooters as a guide for what not to do. Aiming down your sights is performed with the right stick, not the left trigger, and it's on a toggle, which means that you don't return to your default field of vision after firing. Then there are the legendary sniper-rifle controls, which require three hands to master. Maybe playing with the Move would help.

Still, Killzone games boast a heft that other shooters lack — a deliberately slow pace and a powerful weapon feedback make you feel as though you were controlling a Mack truck, not a human being. When you defeat an enemy, even a basic one, you feel you've earned it. The campaign is a little more varied this time around, with more vehicle sequences and stealth missions that aren't totally incompetent. And, in a stunning reversal for the series, some of the levels even include pops of color. I thought I must be hallucinating the first time I saw that.

Multi-player modes continue the tradition established in the previous entry of switching game types on the fly without dropping players back into a lobby. This is such an efficient way to handle public games, it's a wonder more developers aren't following Killzone's lead. Glacially slow player progression also remains, and though I admire the game's insistence that players earn their perks in multi-player mode, it's also a little frustrating to feel that so much is walled off. But I suppose if you're willing to drop three grand on a 3D display, you'd be wasting your money if you didn't spend the next three months of your life trying to get a sniper rifle.

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  Topics: Videogames , Kills, SHOOTER, Sony,  More more >
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