Guerilla Games, you have done so many things right with your series. Killzone 2 was a masterfully crafted piece of art. It did a better job at conveying what the true horrors of war are than most games based on actual wars. Having never fought in any real battles I cannot say from experience that Killzone is more realistic but stepping onto the brutal battlefields of Helghan and watching scores of troops being relentlessly massacred by the enemy troops while the sound of gunfire and death are forever permeating my eardrums creates a much more real image of war than Call of Duty ever has. The Killzone games have consistently reminded me of Saving Private Ryan, which , in my opinion was the greatest war film of all time due to its unwavering determination to show the true horrors of the Second World War and the truly epic execution of said goal. Killzone 2 was genius and after seeing its tremendous set up for the sequel I awaited eagerly awaited to see what the developers would deliver with Killzone 3. Well all I really have to say is: Guerilla know how to create an atmosphere.
Killzone 3 takes place just after the assassination of Scolar Visari, the leader of the Helghast. His death brought in a new surge of militaristic patriotism for the Helghast as they all rally together to extract brutal revenge of their beloved leader’s assassins. The ISA forces have been broken and are in the midst of a full retreat, Helghan politicians are arguing over who Visari’s heir will be and in the midst of this, a small band of surviving ISA soldier fight to their last breath trying to stay alive under the relentless onslaught of their Helghast pursuers.
Killzone 3′s plot has had a noticeable amount of attention paid to it after the rather empty story that accompanied the predecessor. The game focuses less on pure gratuitous carnage and more an atmosphere and plot which is definitely a step in the right direction. The story has you take control of Sev, our ISA buddy from the first game, as he battles to lead the last few surviving ISA troops in a desperate attempt to escape Helghan having given up hope of winning the war. The game is set over a 6 month time period and early on breaks up the story by jumping back and forth between the start and end of this period before levelling out once the story is fully established. The campaign has you going to all sorts of varied environments such as sneaking through a murky swamp, silently eliminating all the Helghast there, to launching a full scale assault on an arctic weapons plant. Despite the locale variations, the single player campaign is unfortunately much shorter than that of Killzone 2 but every second is on display in a whirlwind of adrenaline culminating to an epic final battle and the conclusion of the game and the series, or so we thought….
Yes Guerilla have fallen into the unfortunate trap of not knowing when to stop. When I finished Killzone 3 I was actually quite surprised at how intense and chilling the ending was once you absorb the full scale of what has just happened and that would have been fine for closure until a post-credits cinematic revealed there will clearly be another Killzone game. Honestly Guerilla, I love what you have done but you don’t need to do any more. Killzone 3 ended perfectly well and you should just let the series end as the epic monument to first person shooter that it is.
The controls are lifted almost unaltered from Killzone 2 with a few minor changes such as the ability to slide into cover and subsequently vault over it. You can now carry a 3rd speciality weapon like a LMG or Rocket Launcher to accompany your assault rifle and pistol. There are also plenty of vehicle sections in the game and a few overpowered “fuck you!” weapons scattered throughout just to add a bit of variety to the already diverse missions. One of my personal favourite features is the brutal melee where you effectively perform an extremely gratuitous execution on the enemy when in melee mode. One complaint I have is the ability for your AI comrades to revive you if you are killed. Granted they aren’t always able to for various reasons but it still makes the campaign a little patronisingly simple at times. Still, can’t have everything.
Visually the game has taken a noticeable step up and no doubt the 3D makes it even more impressive as is continually boasted in all the magazines. I was still sufficiently impressed by the 2D visuals though and felt it added to the whole “war is hell” atmosphere that’s been present since the last Killzone game. I am being genuinely series, this is probably one of the most immersive atmospheres since Bioshock and that is saying something. The phenomenal voice acting performances by Ray Winstone, Malcom McDowell and Brian Cox coupled with the titanic sound track help make the game the piece of art that it is.
One issue I had had with Killzone 2 was regarding the two warring factions. In Killzone 2 I genuinely felt bad for the Helghast having read some of the back story leading up to the war and seeing them as more of the victims of oppression being punished for trying to take back for what is theirs and this disturbed me as I was sympathising with a faction that was clearly modelled after Nazi Germany. Come Killzone 3 however and all sympathies are lost as Guerilla transformed the Helghast from a wronged nation into merciless brutal murderers devoid of all ethics and morality in terms of how they treat their prisoners. This shift made me wonder if Guerilla had noticed that others might feel the same way I did regarding the gas-masked nation and hastily tried to fix that for fear of backlash if it was interpreted wrongly by one of the ignorant masses in modern society. Either that or they wanted to show to true extent of social breakdown at the loss of their beloved leader, who knows.
Time to wrap up this review then. Despite its rather insultingly short campaign, allusions to an unnecessary sequel and revive system removing some of the games challenge, Killzone 3 is still one of the best shooters out there especially with the option of co-op campaign. Overall I find it to be a big step up from its predecessor. While Killzone 2 delivered what little plot it had to an excellent standard, it did it with such an excess of mindless gratuity and unnecessary profanity. I am happy to say Guerilla handles the mature themes much better in this instalment with more focus on making it plot appropriate and less on trying to horrify parents. Overall Killzone 3 is a masterfully crafted piece of art rivalling some of the best shooters in the industry and is a perfect end to an epic series; until Killzone 4 comes along to ruin it…