E3 2010: Killzone 3 PreviewBy Joe Rybicki - Posted Jun 17, 2010
What We Already Know
Sony's gritty first-person shooter series has been about style as much as substance since the beginning (some might say more so), and Killzone 3 does not shrink from piling on the visual detail and cinematic style. The game kicks off immediately following the events of Killzone 2, with Sev and Rico continuing a guerrilla-style assault against the Helghast Empire.
What We're Seeing Now
The most visually spectacular feature being displayed at the show is 3D support. In this mode, gun trails stream out of the screen, rockets seem to whiz by, and shell casings occasionally appear to pop out of the TV. Environments have a strong sense of depth, adding to the already impressive levels of detail and realism. And if the graphics suffer a bit due to having to render each frame twice -- once for each eye -- for those willing to embrace 3D technology, such things aren't likely to matter.
But of course this is all eye candy. The game itself will no doubt feel familiar to fans of the previous games, but it includes some key additions. One is the new "brutal melee" system: Get up close to an enemy and you'll be able to perform a variety of different close-quarters attacks based on the environment and your distance from your target. The attacks can also be multi-stage, timing-based affairs -- think of them as sort of miniature (and optional) quick-time events. You might stun an enemy with a rifle butt to the face, then move in close and jam a knife into his eye. Or grab an enemy and bash his head on a nearby crate. Or toss one over a railing. The attacks are definitely brutal...but also satisfying.
Also new are jetpacks, inspired by Killzone: Liberation. These allow players (and enemies) to hover for a limited time, and include a boost function to cross open spaces quickly. Don't expect Tribes levels of movement with the packs, but they add a significant dimension to the gameplay nevertheless. One entertaining feature of the packs is what happens when you take out jetpack-equipped enemies: They rocket off wildly, clearly out of control -- again, satisfying.
Speaking of satisfying, a Guerilla representative promised that your AI partner Rico would prove far more useful this time around. Instead of requiring constant babysitting and being a general nuisance, Rico will stay out of your way when necessary but offer real support when it's called for. He'll perform traditional buddy duties like offering a leg up to higher areas, but he'll also rush to your aid to revive you should you be taken out.
And that aid will no doubt be very welcome given the game's more hostile environments. Killzone 3 now features areas set in frigid, snowy environments, as well as dense, lush jungles. The visual variety should go a long way toward making the game feel less, well, brown. And though that may be a departure for the series, it's one fans aren't likely to mind.