By Andrew Groen
We were very pleased Killzone 3, but not totally pleased. Because we're perpetually dissatisfied and always want more. It was a very good first person shooter, but it wasn't quite at the top of its game. These are a few of the things we think the inevitable follow up to Killzone 3 needs to have in order to stay on top of the genre. Some of these are small complaints, and others are bigger but we hope Guerrilla Games can address these when preparing to build the next game.
No More Flickering Seizure Menus
Maybe this is a small complaint, but Killzone 3's multiplayer menus genuinely pain our fragile dough-eyes. In menus like the map selection screen all of the text flickers every single time someone changes their vote. This causes some of the more unscrupulous members of the Killzone 3 online community to rapidly change their vote back and forth in order to murder our eyes.
We admit, it would be a pretty cool little effect if it only happened once in a while, but every few seconds is nearly enough to induce a seizure. Do us a favor next time, Guerrilla Games, a little less style on the user interface, please. It's a menu not a techno light show. ?
Less Epic Load Times
The load times aren't all that bad during the single player campaign, but once you jump online the loading screens become nearly intolerable. Thankfully, Killzone 3's competitive multiplayer is more than good enough for us to happily trudge through the epic loading. However, there's no good reason we should have to wait literally multiple minutes for an online match to load.
Occasionally pre-match loading screens can be useful when your urination takes longer than the allotted 45 second pre-match warm-up. But this was more than excessive. Perhaps Killzone 4 could cut down on load times, and offer mid-match potty breaks instead.??
More Great Voice Acting, Less Mediocre Voice Acting?
Malcolm McDowell and Brian Cox provide two of the most fantastic voice acting performances ever to grace the video game industry in Killzone 2 and 3. As the central villains of each game, these Helghast leaders light up the screen every time they're involved. The gaming industry as a whole could learn a lesson from this fine example. Yet the game's actual protagonists look like amateurs by comparison.
At best, Sev is inoffensive and gets his message across, but Rico "What the f***'s a Shakespeare?" Velasquez is more often obnoxious. We'll give them credit for one thing: they didn't take the lazy route and hire Nolan North. For that much we are thankful. For the next installment we'd prefer it if the acting chops were a little more evenly distributed, because with so many weak actors on the ISA side and so much brilliance over at Helghast HQ, we're starting to think about switching sides.
Divided MP Modes
We're big fans of the innovative Warzone mode that was introduced in Killzone 2 and has reappeared in Killzone 3. We really don't want it to go away. For those uninitiated in the ways of Killzone online, Warzone is a game type that mashes three or four different game types into one meta-game. You play one non-stop game on a single map with about 6 or 7 rounds, each of which is a different game type.
This game mode is a really unique way to play online in a shooter. However, we'd really like the option to break these sections up and only play assassination if that's all we feel like playing. The rotating game types are good, but there's a certain evolution that happens when you play the same game on the same map, with the same people. Once everybody is experienced in that map/game type then the competition gets far more fierce.?
We get it. If you include Killcam in your game then you'll be accused of cribbing ideas from Call of Duty. However, in this case it would be worth it. Killcam is one of the greatest innovations ever to hit online competitive gaming, and the series is falling behind without it.
The reason is simply that Killcam is an amazing tutorial device. Rather than the game trying to explain how to play, or experimenting with bot-filled trial games (which do next to nothing to prepare you for the online arena) Killcams show you precisely why you failed, and why others have succeeded.
Moreover, they also level the playing field and challenge the best players to continue honing their craft. With a Killcam involved you can't simply rely on a few unique tricks to dominate the game since other players will study why you were able to kill them. Not to mention the added ease of catching cheaters and glitch-exploiters. These benefits are so awesome that it would be worth sucking up your pride and stealing from CoD.
Let's face it: the co-op in Killzone 3 was a mess. Mitch Dyer had more than a few nasty things to say about it in our review. A few choice excepts include: “its half-hearted attempt at co-op is incredibly disappointing” and “why bother?” While other major shooters have provided great experiences in cooperative gameplay, Killzone 3 is very far behind in this regard.
The chief complaint has to do with the unnecessarily small viewing areas. The solution: online co-op. We understand that online cooperative play is an extremely difficult feature to implement, but damn it if you're going to charge $60 for a piece of software then you'd better include all of the features that place you at the top of the herd. Ten years ago FPSes were including better co-op options than Killzone 3.?
Tighter Move Controls
We really enjoyed the implementation of the PlayStation Move controller into the Killzone 3 experience. It worked better than just about any other motion-controlled FPS we've ever seen. It wasn't quite 100% though. There were a few things that weren't up-to-par. For one, the melee attack didn't always work, and occasionally just caused your vision to get a bit disoriented. Also, the reload action sometimes just didn't work.
If motion controls are ever truly going to take over the first person shooter genre then we need these kinds of things fixed. The difficult parts of motion gaming were all fixed in Killzone 3. Other than those small quibbles, the Move controller feels great, but we switched back to the controller on more than a couple occasions just because it wasn't worth the hassle. ?
There are practically no major bugs in all of Killzone 3 (none that we noticed anyways), but the little bugs are extremely common. Over time, these little bugs add up to be pretty annoying and immersion breaking. Given the high quality of the rest of the game, there's no reason why there should be a half-second delay between the time we swing a melee attack and when a door breaks down.
There are other oddities too. For instance, the audio can de-sync, causing voiceovers to continue long after a character's lips have stopped moving in a cutscene. There's also a few instances where characters will “pop in” to the environment seemingly from nowhere.
These issues are so minor that their presence seems bizarre. None of the bugs in the game seem like they'd take a lot of effort to stomp out. Next time, please take the extra month to really fine tune the product before release.
This is our pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top request for Killzone 4. We certainly don't blame Guerrilla Games for not including this in Killzone 3, as everything we've heard suggests it requires a veritable army of programmers to make this a reality. That said, destructible environments are a fantastic addition to any shooter.
Nothing takes us out of the experience of playing a frenetic, bombastic shooter quite like firing a missile at a wall, only to see a 2D “explosion” graphic pop up on the unharmed wall. It can affect gameplay too when enemies are allowed to hunker behind indestructible cover despite being bombarded with explosive rockets.
So please, Guerrilla Games, next time let us blow stuff up. ?
More of the Same
This kind of article, by its very nature, means that we have to spend most of our time complaining about Killzone 3 and focusing on the things we didn't like. However, the simple fact is that we really enjoyed this game. The number one thing we hope Killzone 4 includes is the same kind of stellar game design that we found in Killzone 3.
Most of what we mentioned is peripheral to the game as a whole. The reason for that is because the core of the game is practically unassailable. The story is more interesting than most, the gun battles are fun, and the online play rivals the best in the business. If they can smooth out some of the edges then they'll truly be at the top of the genre.