Killzone 3 Hands-On Impressions

Sev and Rico crash-land in the Arctic as we crash-land into the third dimension.

As far as understatements go, saying that Killzone 2 was a nice-looking game is pretty high on the list. The game arrived in early 2009 like some benevolent time traveler, a first-person shooter sent from the future bearing the message "Fear not, friends. This is what PlayStation 3 graphics will look like in a few years' time." Killzone 3, its aptly named sequel, doesn't carry that same immediate impact. It looks and sounds nothing short of gorgeous, but its various improvements seem more focused on fleshing out the gameplay experience with greater variety, bigger set pieces, and deeper combat. We recently got to experience this development game plan firsthand, and it didn't take long to see that, with a game that already looked so good, building up the action seems like the right way to go.

Killzone 3 picks up right after the second game. A nuclear detonation has rendered the Helghan homeworld a scarred wasteland, but there's still a war to be fought even as the enemy Helghast's chain of power remains uncertain in the wake of the last game's conclusion. You'll once again assume control of an ISA soldier named Sev and work in tandem with his squadmate Rico, but this time the members of this squad will be trekking across a more wide-ranging selection of Helghan locales. Whereas you spent the vast majority of Killzone 2 shooting Helghast soldiers in urban streets and alleyways, the next game will take you on a tour through Arctic seas, irradiated jungles, and eventually outer space.

We got to play through portions of the game's fourth chapter, set in and above one of the frigid Arctic poles of the Helghan homeworld. Things kicked off with an on-rails vehicle sequence, as we sat atop an ISA gunship circling around Helghan oil rigs, though after making a lot of things explode with a mounted Gatling gun, we were eventually shot down. After crash-landing, we got a chance to see some of the new Helghast troops up close and personal. Perhaps the most attention-grabbing one is the jumpack trooper, who looks like some sort of jetpack-equipped Helghast valkyrie trying to kill you from on high. The scariest part of these guys is that shooting at them eventually causes their jumpacks to malfunction and send them careening like wild in random directions, though they'll do their best to guide the wreckage directly into you like a last-minute kamikaze.

After dealing with some of these flying foes, we managed to equip Sev with a jumpack for himself. The controls are simple: L1 to lift off, X to quickly dash forward, and R1 to shoot the mounted machine gun. Riding these can be a little intimidating at first with the thrusters spitting out fire almost directly in front of your face, but the visual effect is an impressive one nonetheless. You can lift off for only a few seconds at a time, so it's more for extended jumping (hence the name) than full-on flying. We used the pack to leap dozens of feet at a time across icebergs sticking out of the swelling, violent Arctic sea in a quest to make it from one oil rig to another. When we made it to land, we were able to use the pack to quickly find high ground against the Helghast grunts or hover over them safe from melee attacks.

Helghast in jumpacks go out with an explosive bang.

The latter technique actually worked out quite well, because Killzone 2 features a new "brutal melee" system, to use Guerrilla's terminology, that both you and your opponents can take advantage of. Basically, this means that melee attacks are more varied and vicious than just smashing an enemy's face with the butt of your rifle. Depending on where your enemies are in the environment and what sorts of objects are nearby, hitting the L1 button can result in a number of different outcomes. Run straight up to a Helghast trooper, and you'll jam your knife in his eye. Approach one standing near a bench, and you'll kick him around and knife him in the neck as he struggles to get back up. We saw a number of these savage attacks, and they were all equally visceral (if not a little bit nauseating to look at with a weak stomach).

Development on Killzone 3 kicked off right after its predecessor shipped last January, and one of the big new features that has been worked on ever since then is getting the game running in full stereoscopic 3D. We had the opportunity to play in said number of dimensions, and even at this early stage with plenty of rough spots, it was a visual treat. Killzone 2 already did depth-of-field really well with the way it blurred out close objects like the stock of your rifle or the green-dot scope that pops up when you look down your gun's sights. But in 3D, objects meant to be at the front of your immediate field of view really pop out, like your hand when you've got a knife equipped or the rockets zipping by your head during those moments when you've got to deal with explosives-wielding Helghast. The one downer was that seeing the game in 3D produced a lot more aliasing and jagged edges than when we played in traditional 2D, as well as some ghosting of interface elements like the crosshair and screen text. Hopefully Guerrilla will be able to iron out those bugs, because the 3D effect is overall pretty impressive.

Better bundle up, because it's gonna be a cold one.

Finally, it's worth noting that even after moving on from the last game's gloomy urban streets, Guerrilla seems to have managed a fairly intense atmosphere even in the daytime Arctic. Between the flurries of snow falling every which way in shifting winds, a thrashing sea nearby, and the usual whizz of bullets and violent groans from fallen soldiers, there's a lot competing for your attention. It all made us eager to see how some of the other environments look and sound. We should get a better idea as we get closer to Killzone 3's 2011 release date.

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429 comments
dinodude13
dinodude13

the game runs on 720p on a lcd or led hdtv but on a sony hdtv it runs at 1080p.............. funny

vietstyles21x
vietstyles21x

@Wolfie600 that stereotype is there for a reason. people on the 360 act like asshats 9/10 times while on ps3 nobody talks, and i would glady take silence over douchebaggery any day. in addition, since your so butthurt about what i said its clear that your a fanboy. the quicker you stop kidding yourself and chill with that "my console is better than yours" stuff, you might actually start making an opinion that involves more intellect and less of that crybaby bull****. THAT is all. dumbass

smartmart
smartmart

Totally agree. The one thing lacking in KZ2 was the story and character development. Technically it was better than the rest and the atmosphere and pressure in battle was amazing, so if they've managed to flesh things out in KZ3 then we could be looking at an all time classic. Can't wait to find out.

NitroMo
NitroMo

in killzone 2, when i saw my teamates die, i sort of shrugged 'meh' and continued the game in kz3, i want better characters that when they die, you go crazy and scream 'REVENGE!' and shove your knife into the eye of a helgan dude

KaizerJinn
KaizerJinn

looks awesome and i'm not a FPS fan. LoL. X^D

Rob31293
Rob31293

Co-op Really needs to be in this game. but everyone knows that it will be in this game and much much more. But also this is their chance to take the story to the next level. 2 had an ok story but you could honestly tell that wasnt their main focus for 2. But for 3 they with no doubt will have a great story to tell.!

brian_13un
brian_13un

I really a looking forward to this

Jak_Napier
Jak_Napier

Looks awesome, the 3D will look amazing.

bugbag
bugbag

I really want to see how the 3D is going to work out.

kyaz87
kyaz87

lol sad haters...killzone 2 controls meant to be that way...it gives a feel on how heavy the weapons are...not lag...

eastwoodmaniac
eastwoodmaniac

@GBPackersrule So I'm a fanboy because I think your ridiculous comment deserved a thumbs down? Erm, no. You got a thumbs down because you are the one thing that is worse than a fanboy: you are an anti-fanboy. 1-2 seconds controller lag?! Utter, utter silliness.

XanderZane
XanderZane

The first game was good, but not great. I thought it was a bit overhyped, yet still enjoyable to a degree. Hopefully KZ3 will fix all the issues from KZ2. With Halo: Reach, CoD:BO, Resistance 3, Singularity, Crysis 2, Rage, Breached and at least a 1/2 dozen other FPS coming, KZ3 is going to have a LOT of competition.

trollkind
trollkind

It will be Killzone, I will like it and complete it asap with a permanent graphics/FX/Design hardon while my Brain tries to block out the bullcrap story/characters. No Preview or anything needed. This is one franchise I can trust in.

Irish-J
Irish-J

@claykenobi Thanks for the support man, I had to say it after all the Halo fanboys kept talking that crap up! KZ3 will be increadable and I can't wait for it. I hear ya about the 360, the only reason why I haven't sold mine yet is because of some of the exclusives like Mass Effect and Gears of War. Other than that it sits and collects dust while I play my PS3.

cameio
cameio

this is great, love Killzone 2 and it was the best FPS in 2009 and Killzone 3 will be the best too.

frazzle00
frazzle00

I found Killzone 2 to be pretty boring to be honest. That coupled with a lack of campaign coop and unpleasant characters (*sigh* Rico is still around in KZ3) made the game one that I simply didn't have the motivation to complete. If KZ3 doesn't have campaign coop it's no sale for me.

biagio55
biagio55

GBPackersrule: go play COD you arcade shooter. its meant to be like that you tool.

telefanatic
telefanatic

matricha you say Killzone 2 was awfull and this one going to be also? Did you play the same game i played ? The game scored AAA almost in every review including Gamespot, so i think you are hating on a game for no reason. I bet you a 360 fan thats why you said the game is awful.How would you feel if i said that Halo Reach will be awfull since Halo 3 ODST was awfull but it wont be, Reach and KZ3 will both be AAAE's trust me and will be enjoyed by millions of players.

Quietpower09
Quietpower09

I hope Killzone 3 is going to bet better than its predecessor. :)

KURISU_X
KURISU_X

I played all 3 Killzone games and luv them all. I like the new melee combat feature which will be more fun than bashing 1 button.

kubb724
kubb724

@matricha killzone was not a failure XD just shows you dont know what a good game is if it smacked you across the face..Killzone 2 is a great game, online for it might get a little annoying with some 13 yr olds chatting it up complaining about how their dyng so much . people complaining about gun turning to slow change (Sensitivity) to liking. Killzone 3 is going to be awsome as well. KILLZONE might not be THEE best game but it is still a great game. so matricha and GBPackersrule can suck a sweaty nuttsack. =]

GBPackersrule
GBPackersrule

So you're telling me that it took like 5 years to make Killzone 2, but only two to make Killzone 3? If they can fix the horrible control lag (when I hit the R3 stick to the right, it should not take 1-2 seconds for the gun to turn) amongst other issues, then I might just give KZ3 a go. It seems like a lot of people forgot that Killzone sucked hard. Crazy what hype can do for a series. Bring on the fanboys and thumbs down.

matricha
matricha

Killzone 2 was a failure, it was awful, i dont think this one is gon be a success either.

War_Chiefs
War_Chiefs

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

amaan4ever
amaan4ever

are the stories of killzone series connected.need to know in order to play killzone 2.

amaan4ever
amaan4ever

only played the psp game.did'nt get to play killzone2 on ps3.definetely will get this one

mf1986
mf1986

i was hoping to play as a helghast, and their debut trailer made me think maybe we will. maybe.

Botodile
Botodile

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

edant79
edant79

Sweet! I got till 2011 to get a 3D TV.

Packgator
Packgator

previous comment @GunGriffin

Packgator
Packgator

This and Black Ops arent out so how can you say their the best shooters out?

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

IMHO This and CODWAW/Black Ops are THE Best shooters out there. Say what you will about me. But thats my feelings. BFBC2 is also right up there. Games that not only look great, but play great, and try new things even with old ideas are great for the gamers in all of us. My beef with MW2 was that not enough changed, not enough was different, the settings all had that same feel to them, that same vibe from MW, the sounds did not improve something the developers wanted to do BTW, the over all point and click issues that the developers wanted to fix on all platforms got shafted for profits by Activison, and the coolest features like Overwatch, and the new more balanced sniper weapons, and control system was also canned. If the publisher had not moved the date up, and had let IW do what they wanted too, it would of been a much more fun game IMHO, as it stands sure it made a crap load of cash, but is looked and played like EVERY other shooter out there, it felt like the first MW did with new weapons, and paint job. KZ3 will not suffer the same fate.

Sam4bf2
Sam4bf2

This game is gonna be jaw-droppin'. No wait, actually greater than that cuz killzone 2 was already jaw-droppin'.

BKJ4TW
BKJ4TW

Please get rid of respawning enemies in singleplayer.

BallisstiXXX
BallisstiXXX

I also want Rico to die in the beginning of the game, he is annoying beyond control.

BallisstiXXX
BallisstiXXX

The only thing this series really needs as far as I'm concerned is some co-op play with my buds for story mode, and a somewhat better dialogue, nothing terrible with the last, it's just hearing Rico scream F*CKIN SH1T for the fourth time in five minutes just got a little old, and maybe tone down the difficulty on some of the levels. But this game is sounding beast, I will pick this one up as soon as I can!

Saintier
Saintier

Ares i agree with you but please try to read ur comments before u post them cause its sometimes really hard to make any sense of what ur saying lol.