Killzone Mercenary places you in the shoes of Arran Danner. Arran is an Ex-UCN solider who is now fighting for Commander Anders’s Phantom Talon Mercenary company. Through the course of the campaigns you’ll fight for both sides of the war. Whilst the story is solid and provides good explanation for guiding you through the campaign, it is nothing ground breaking and nowhere near as good as the console Killzone games.
Killzone Mercenary is the best looking portable game that I’ve ever played hands down. It is running on the Killzone 3 engine and this is clear from the first moment. The game almost looks as good as the console counterparts which is also due to the beautiful OLED screen that the Vita possesses. It runs incredibly well and only slows down on a few set pieces. It is truly remarkable for just how great the game looks and the amount of explosions and enemies on screen at any given time.
The sound in the game is incredible. Gunshots actually have a lot of depth and weight to them and make you feel as if you’re in the middle of a war zone. When using the right headphones, Killzone Mercenary puts you right in the moment with its incredible presentation. Menus are an absolute joy to navigate through using the extremely capable touch screen interface of the vita.
The main campaign in Killzone Mercenary is quite different from the console counterparts. It takes place over 9 different missions, which are all around 40 minutes in length. Your goal as a mercenary is to kill anything that you see in order to make money. Landing head shots and multiple kills will get you extra money which can all be spent across weaponry and armory in both single player and multiplayer.
I think that this mechanic lends perfectly to a handheld First Person Shooter. The missions and arcadey play style lend perfectly to the Vita’s portability. The game controls as you’d expect with the gyroscope used in order to gain accuracy when your scope is raised. Back touch pad is used for running and the touch screen can be used for melee attacks and changing your weapons. The good thing about this is that it’s completely optional. I found that it makes controlling a lot easier and feels extremely natural for the few instances that you have to use the touch screen.
The gunplay in Killzone Mercenary is perfectly weighted and aiming feels as good as it does on a Dualshock 3. There are a huge amount of different guns and armory at your disposal, which keeps the game from getting old. If this wasn’t enough you can also equip a number of Van-Guards. These are expensive pieces of kit that give you that extra bit of firepower when you need it most. An example of this is a rocket system that uses the touch screen in order to take people out or droid that flys with you and takes people out as you pass them. These are activated as you build up your kill streak in multiplayer.
Multiplayer offers three modes and 6 maps. Warzone was by far my favourite multiplayer mode of any portable FPS that I’ve ever played. It is set over a series of 5 minute missions. These range from melee kills, collecting valor tags or setting off communication towers. Warzone is an absolute breath of fresh air in a sea of generic FPS multiplayer modes. It was so nice to see people actually trying to complete missions strategically rather than just seeing people jump around like crazy going for head shots.
Guerilla Warfare is a team death match mode where two teams of 4 go against eachother. The first team to get to forty kills is the ultimate victor. Mercenary Warfare is a free for all battle between 8 players. The top 3 payers after ten minutes are rewarded with Vektan Dollars. Whilst the Two Warfare modes are a great time, it is the Warzone mode that will keep you coming back again and again. I could easily play 3-4 matches without noticing that 2 hours had passed. Whilst there are a few balance issues, it didn’t take away from the fun that is to be had.
Killzone Mercenary is the ultimate portable First Person Shooter. With a decent single player campaign and an even better multiplayer mode I’d recommend anyone with a Vita to pick this game up. It is extremely fun and will absolutely delight you with its graphic capability. This is hopefully the first of many great First Party Vita games to come over the next year.