The Killzone franchise is certainly a popular one for Sony, despite the problematic issues that plagued the original on the Playstation 2 in 2004. Sony and Guerrilla Games stepped up their game with the release of Killzone 2 on the Playstation 3 in 2009, much to the happiness of PS3 owners. The critical reception of the sequel was overwhelmingly positive and the sales broke a million copies in less than 60 days. It was inevitable that the third entry in the Killzone saga would hit the PS3 and Guerrilla Games accomplished that within 2 years of the previous release.
The narrative in Killzone 3 picks up directly after the events of Killzone 2, thus it's a good idea to play them in order. The ISA versus Helghast conflict is still very much alive and the protagonist Sev is in the thick of it right from the start. One of my main problems with the presentation is the disjointed style of the storytelling. It not difficult to follow, but rather comes at the expense of true character building. It's difficult to get behind either side of the struggle due to lack of development. The only redeeming factor is that the struggle between the Advanced Weaponry Chairman, Jordan Stahl, and Adrimal Orlock is entertaining and more well thought out than the rest of the story.
If you played Killzone 2, you will be right at home with the style of combat. You are still running from cover point to cover point blasting away at the Helghan forces. The AI of the enemy is particularly smart, but the size of their army is definitely overwhelming. It's a simple matter of driving them out of cover spots with explosives and finishing them off with a rifle or up close with a new melee finishing move. Teammates serve as an excellent distraction to draw fire away from the player and they can be helpful in tight spots in regards to reviving you. Levels are intentionally linear in design and scripted events pop out from time to time. This isn't an open world type of game and exploration isn't a key gameplay element.
The real draw for many players are the multiplayer modes. Similar to the Call of Duty series, you have character building tools to push along the career of your online soldier. Made popular by Return to Castle Wolfenstien many years ago, the objective based Warzone mode is back to require the players to achieve certain tasks before the time runs out. Many of these modes are also included in the Operations mode, but specific to controlling access points. Both Warzone and Operations are tremendously entertaining to play and the online community is very robust for Killzone 3. I didn't have any trouble finding matches at any time of the day. The addition of mechs and jetpacks are also entertaining to incorporate within team strategy.
The game also offers an offline co-op mode in splitscreen mode, oddly missing an online component for playing with friends that don't live at your house. If Gears can do it, why not the Killzone series? Ugh... Beyond multiplayer, there are 60 trophies to earn (7 in the Relaimed Territory DLC) if that's your cup of tea. The majority are pretty standard to any shooter title; kill X number of enemies with X gun and story related achievements for finishing the campaign. Most of the the secret achievements are story related, so beware before finishing the campaign for the first time. There are a couple fun one in there though like getting a mid-air kill while using the Jet Pack.
Playstation Move Support:
Killzone 3 supports the Playstation Move controller, although I can't see any advantages to using it over a normal Dualshock controller. If anything, it would be a huge hindrance when playing online and hurt your performance. The Move wand acts as an aiming device for your weapon as well as the primary firing trigger. To change weapons or move around, you would use the navigation controller. I found myself playing around with the sensitivity settings for 30 minutes, but I never found a happy medium that played similar to a standard Dualshock. You give up far too much accuracy when playing plus it just seems clunky. However, I will say that this is the best implementation of the Move that I've experienced so far on the PS3.
The graphics engine in Killzone 3 is stellar to say the least. The amount of intricate details that went into designing both the character models and destroyed environments is fantastic and pops off the screen in glorious high definition. Animation is excellent as well as fire effects and the cutscenes. Guerrilla Games did a fantastic job in making the game not only beautiful, but also stable. This is also one of the more massive games to date, clocking in at around 40GB.
I also got a chance to test out the 3D functionality on a buddy's setup and I can't say that I was impressed. I found myself wasting time trying to focus on the game rather than reacting to the action on the screen. A split second is all that it takes to lose a multiplayer match and 3D certainly didn't help. I also got a headache after playing for about 30 minutes, certainly not a selling point on playing in 3D all the time. I like that Sony is trying new technologies with 3D in games, but I really wouldn't recommend it for Killzone 3.
You really can't go wrong with Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Heroes, Fallout 3 as President John Henry Eden) voicing one of your main characters. He brilliantly pulls off the maniacal Chairman Jordan Stahl and gives the character an extra dose of evil. James Remar (Dexter, Jericho) also does a great job as Captain Narville as well as Ray Winstone (The Departed, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull) as Admiral Orlock. Unfortunately the rest of the voice cast isn't as convincing, but you can tell that they are trying hard to sell it. The musical score is top notch and sets the mood for the main campaign. The sound effects are comparable to the last Killzone and work within the futuristic, war-torn landscape.
The most depressing thing about the 10 chapters in the Killzone 3 campaign is that it can be beaten in about 4 to 5 hours of game time and the experience seems more linear than Killzone 2, not to mention about half as long. The scripted material also seems formulaic and the story jumping around doesn't help matters. For anyone that only plays through the single player campaign in games, you are going to feel ripped off if you paid the full MSRP for something that can be beaten on a Saturday. But if you enjoy adversarial multiplayer, Killzone 3 is probably right up your alley. The polished multiplayer takes all the great ideas of the second game and improves on them with new vehicles as well as slight tweaks. If I was giving this game a letter grade, it would be C- on the campaign and A+ on the multiplayer mode. Highly recommended if you love multiplayer matches.