Late last week I was fortunate enough to get a one level hands on experience with PlayStation Vita’s newest, upcoming first person shooter, Killzone Mercenary.
The question on my mind ever since news first broke of Killzone Mercenary is can this entry trump the Vita’s two previous attempts of a FPS? Given that what I was sampling is a preview and can’t be considered a final judgment but I can confidentially say that based on the preview of Killzone Mercenary is certainly going the be the Vita’s strongest FPS to date and perhaps this years most anticipated release for the portable gaming console.
Being developed by Guerrilla Cambridge and using a modified engine of Killzone 3. I can comfortably say that this game is graphically amazing it contains the highly detailed environments fans have come to expect, enemies of a vast variety, weapons contain an intimate amount of detail and the varied extensions of levels set off in the distance do not blur or become fuzzy. The hostile terrain of the planet Helghan is captured brilliantly and the series standard of monstrously destructive weaponry is once again present.
Killzone Mercenary takes place just after the ending of the original Killzone. You strap on the boots of mercenary Arran Danner who has absolutely no issues fulfilling contracts for any side of the war if the price is right but as his experiences from both sides begin to play on him, he starts to consider if the victory of the battle is worth the dollars he earns.
My preview opens up with a brief cinematic basically explaining that the war still wages between the ISA (interplanetary Strategic Alliance) and the Helghast. A nameless woman emphasises that the Helghast will pay and be brought to justice, which to me seems more like a public comforting announcement. After the woman concludes my team leader divulges the harsh reality that the ISA attempts were stalled before they even began. Using this military hiccup to introduce my mission to me. I must infiltrate the Helghan planetary defence system to give the ISA a window of opportunity to land and launch an assault. As my mission is explained on-screen there are well based military visuals of structures and locations to help provide additional information needed to complete the job.
At the end of this introductory I am thrown to another in-game cut scene which instantly shows the true graphical beauty of this game. Leaping from an airborne troop carrier I am left to navigate the harsh Helghan air space with only a wing suit. I am at mercy to the whirling missiles, bullets and the sheer awe of the powerful Helghan Arc cannon, the cause of the dramas for the ISA.
Upon landing gracefully with my wing suit, I am given full control of Danner. The shoulder buttons perform as the aim and fire buttons as to be expected. The dual sticks of the vita give full vision and control. X is your standard jump, square to reload, circle to crouch into and out of cover and triangle is you action button allowing you to melee, attach zip line, climb and activate switches. Present on-screen are functions for a swap of weapons, grenade and Van-Guard power ups. Which have also been conveniently placed on the D-pad to reduce the need of on-screen touches.
Being a mercenary I am given small payouts during gameplay for various actions such as stealth, scavenging and kills. Headshots and melees earn the player and extra bonus. Another feature bought over from the previous Killzone games is the “Brutal Melee” an extremely up close and personal kill which utilises a touchscreen swipe to deliver the final blow.
Unlike previous Vita FPS, which almost forces the use of touchscreen onto you, Guerrilla Cambridge have cleverly given the player a lot of breathing space between uses of the touchscreen. A few uses to push levers, melee kills and some very smartly used mini games to hack into computer systems for example. Although these are small features it gave me a deeper sense of being a console game and not a forced touchscreen gimmick.
Whilst my preview was only of one single mission the currency system accumulates for both single and multiplayer. The same can be said for the ranking system, levelling up through military ranks and bonuses for x amount of kills from a particular gun for example. Spending the money on new weapons both primary and secondary, with a vast array of Van-Guard power ups available. These are major boosters for various scenarios to aid in stealth or to simply even the odds when out-numbered. Vendors are found in plentiful amounts throughout my level but items found in here I found were quite expensive requiring the player to carefully consider their weapon load out.
Killzone Mercenary boasts the largest number of guns available in any game of the series to date with a great number of load out possibilities. Gunplay controls are extremely tight and responsive. I had no issues controlling the movement or aiming with my Vita. This honestly feels like a direct port of the two amazing Killzone titles that can already be found on the PS3 which is an amazing feat by Guerrilla Cambridge and I certainly hope their hard work is recognised and appreciated.
I began this article with one question. Do I think Killzone Mercenary could trump the Vita’s troubled list of first person shooters? It is a certainty after concluding my hands on preview with this game.
Killzone Mercenary releases in Australia on September 4th and to celebrate PlayStation Australia are looking for the Ultimate Recruit all you have to do for $10,000 is design you own Ultimate recruit contract detailing just how far you are willing to go for the $10,000 payout. Details for Sony’s competition can be found here at http://bit.ly/GetTheJobDone
Be sure to stick with Press-Start when we release our review for the Vita’s most anticipated game of the year.