E3 2010: Killzone 3 Hands-On - In the Zone
Written Thursday, July 01, 2010 By Dave Olsen
The little skiff is making its way through the snowstorm while the sea is raging far below. The snow is blowing all around us, as the target comes into view. It’s a huge oil platform just offshore. Four Helghast run out onto the deck and open fire. As they open fire, our mini-gun is aimed and we open fire at them. Moments later all four are down and the skiff moves to the lower section where we set our sights on the new target, which are the supports for the platform. As they explode, the platform collapses and we move from one platform to another killing Helghast and destroying fuel tanks in the process. On the last platform, a Helghast ship is preparing to take off and after it’s destroyed, another Helghast ship enters the fray and starts taking aim at the ISA skiffs. An intense burst from the mini-gun later and there’s another Helghast ship down. Job’s a good ‘un.
That’s pretty much the the opening of the Killzone 3 E3 demo, which was incidentally divided into three parts, and even though this is a pre-alpha version, the graphics are sublime and a slight step up from its predecessor, Killzone 2. As far as the controls go, the control scheme even on its first showing felt tight and responsive, and we have to say, we rarely came across many problems while we went hands on with it. The environment though for this demo was far different than anything you'll have seen in Killzone 2 and in fact, they hark back to the original’s white snowy plains more than anything. Luckily for us, the arctic level on show is one of many, more diverse environments promised by developer Guerrilla for the much anticipated sequel.
While we’re comparing the third installment to the second, it must be said that the first part of the demo alone had more chaos, destruction, and bombastic explosions in it than any portion of Killzone 2 did – a positive sign of things to come. One other noticeable difference in the demo was that the Helghast this time around – from an AI perspective –seemed to have been brushing up on their tactical skills at War Camp – a real life made up camp for the purposes of this analogy. While they were a formidable opponent in the second in the series, they seem to be a little bit smarter this time around, making much better use of the cover and the environment.
Back to the action…
Things suddenly take a turn for the worse for our ISA friends, and the skiff is unexpectedly blown out of the sky by a pesky Helghast with a rocket launcher. Reaching the next platform on the ground is now the next target. Our ISA chums are still adopting to use the trusty mini-gun from the skiff and if that fails, there's always the ever-reliable assault rifle – you can’t go wrong with the standard tools of the trade. Each weapon does have its advantages and disadvantages in this scenario of course. The mini-gun allows you to move through the checkpoints like a tank. More slow and methodical, but with enough firepower to take anything down, while the assault rifle now has the added advantage of the new brutal takedown. Decisions, decisions.
Seeing as we like to experiment, we opted for the assault rifle and their new brutal takedowns. Once you try one, you want to try it again to see how many different animations you can get. It involves pressing L1 twice: once to kick the Helghast, and a second time to perform the kill. It’s not rocket science, but the question you want to know is, how brutal, right? Well, one involved a Helghast ending up with a broken neck and another, saw a Helghast get stabbed in the chest. Our favourite though? Why it’s the one that sees a knife jammed in the blinding, bright orange eyes of a hapless Helghast. Brutal? Absolutely, but pretty damn entertaining and a cool addition to the game.
The other new thing that has been mentioned ad nauseum are the jump packs. No, they are not jetpacks. They are jump packs. Seeing them in action gives you an idea of how they’ll be used in the game. The jump pack boosts you up and then you push yourself forward using the jets to reach a new area. This will make for the addition of platforming sections to Killzone 3 in a roundabout way and it does add a slight advantage in combat since you can boost to a higher point and move behind your enemies pretty easily. However, what goes around, comes around, and fighting off jump pack-enabled Helghast is hardly an enviable task for the exact same reasons. That being said, having them take off on you and get behind you quickly, makes for some super fun and challenging moments.
While Killzone 3 may not advance the series that much over the second in terms of graphics and gameplay, it looks as though it will be a worthy sequel if only for the new gameplay features mentioned herein. Unfortunately, only the single-player campaign was shown on the E3 showfloor and there is no word yet on what the multiplayer will bring with it. What’s even more unfortunate is that we have to wait until next year to continue the adventures of Sev and Rico, but at least we can sleep soundly in our beds tonight knowing its first showing was a resolutely positive one.
Killzone 3 is currently slated for a February 2011 release.