The hits keep coming for the most hated little-handheld-that-could. With Killzone Mercenary we have by far the most impressive FPS ever to grace a portable and quite a showcase of what time and polish can produce. True, it might’ve taken a while but this is still early in the Vita’s life cycle and we’re already seeing tittles such as KM. What else will we be in for? Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at a review for Killzone Mercenary.
He Did it All for the Money…or Did He?
You play as Arran Danner, a mercenary willing to fight for whoever is paying. This is a first for Killzone title as the player will find himself fighting both for the ISA and at times alongside the Helghast army. The story begins after the first Killzone in the timeline and revisits several events from the latter two titles in the existing trilogy.
When given the task of rescuing the Vektan Ambassador along with his family, things don’t go as planned. Without giving too much away, it appears that the Ambassador’s son Justus has become quite a valuable asset in the war you’re fighting. In the end it’ll come down to whether you have a heart or if you’re just in it for a payday.
KM is technical marvel to say the least. Guerilla Cambridge was able to get the same engine that powered Killzone 3 for the PS3 to run on the Vita. The outcome is a varied visually impressive romp through 9 large campaign missions with a ton of replay value and that’s without mentioning the multiplayer.
A crisp UI presents you with the details of the mission as it loads and does very good job of immersing you into role as mercenary. The weapons vehicles, effects and environments are on par with most of what you would’ve seen midway through the current console generation. The difference though is that this is all in the palm of your hand.
Truthfully I can go on and on about the quality of the visuals but I wouldn’t be able to do any better than the screenshots or letting you play for yourself. On top of that, what would be the point if the gameplay wasn’t half as good as the graphics were? Most would agree that they’d rather sacrifice graphics for gameplay on any day right? Right!?
Touch Here for Awesome
You’ll be pleased to know that KM plays as good as it looks. There are way too many weapons for you to use. You can duck in out of cover, run, jump and slide to your heart’s content. Melee is successfully pulled of by swiping the appropriate directions on the touchscreen and to gather intel you’ll have to creep up on your enemies from behind.
Looking back it seems like it should be overwhelming but given that much of the interface is controlled by touch helps to alleviate the learning curve. Add to that the full motion demos for the perk-esque Vanguards and you’ll be killing and collecting dough in a variety of ways. Everything you do in the game earns you money to use at various supply stations where you can change load-outs, resupply ammo and save progress. Various discounts are provided throughout the game to encourage you to try new things as well.
Some may complain about the title being too easy but my suggestion is to always start on the highest difficulty. If you have any experience with shooters then you’ll find a decent amount of difficulty and there are several challenges taking the form of objectives that add replay to every mission. In addition there are about 6 pieces of intel to be collected by either interrogating enemies or playing a puzzle mini-game that also serves as way to hack throughout the game.
Sounds Good to Me
Still not to be outdone by the visuals or the gameplay, the sound in KM is also top notch. The gunfights are explosive, the enemies always have something to say and the production quality hasn’t been spared just because the game fits in your pocket. All-in-all what we have in KM is an experience that is worthy of the spent in development.
If there’s anything I have a problem with though it would have to be the multiplayer. When it works there is fun to be had but there are far too many instances of matches being cut short for various reasons. Then its hard to get over the 8 player limitation that makes this portion always feel second rate compared to consoles. Wasn’t the PSP able to pull off 16 player matches?
The biggest issue with the player gap is that it means you can often find yourself in a match with just one other person which means constantly being taken down by the same person. With a 16 player option I think I’d be satisfied being in a match with 8 people but seeing that as the best it can possibly get is hard to get too excited about.
21 Gun Salute
Even with my issues concerning multiplayer there is still so much KM has to offer. Patches can improve connection issues and landing in a perfect match can easily change my perspective on the player cap. The point is that the title is great and if you have a Vita it is definitely worth adding to your library. We seem to want so badly for our handheld games to be on par with the consoles but we should be content with portable excellence. You’re not going to find a better handheld FPS experience for quite some time so you might as well just enjoy Killzone Mercenary.
+ Superb visuals
+ Lengthy campaign
+ Lots of replay value
- Multiplayer cap
- Online issues
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