Yes, Killzone 3 is a great-looking game, but what does it feel like to play? Developer Guerrilla was showing off two new multiplayer modes at Gamescom 2010, both of which add a unique twist to familiar gameplay ideas. A host of improvements have also been implemented under the hood, with Guerrilla promising a rewritten matchmaking system, better bots, and improved integration with Killzone.com.
The first of the new modes is called Operation. It's a story-driven affair that promises to give “five minutes of fame” to competitors online. Our hands-on began with a short cutscene, which explained the premise of the match. In our match we had to defend the entrance to a silo, which had two highlighted areas for planting explosives on it. The opposing team came at us in full force, so we had to take tactical positions on a rickety-looking staircase to see them off. Though we were unable to try it in our demo, Guerrilla promised an improved voice chat system, which intelligently prioritises team talk, allowing you to easily get the upper hand on the opposition.
During our firefight we noticed that the controls had been tuned considerably, with character movement feeling faster. It’s not Modern Warfare fast by any means, but it does answer some of the fan feedback that called out the sometimes sluggish feel of the characters. Our match was suitably action-filled, with the opposing team throwing grenades, wreaking all kinds of havoc on our defence. Sadly, we lost our battle, and the silo doors were blown wide open. Interestingly, any destroyed objectives remain that way for the remainder of that match, so you always have visible evidence of your success or failure. Once an objective has been completed, a new cutscene begins that highlights your new tasks, which feature the top individual player’s characters from the previous round.
The second mode we played was Guerrilla Warfare, which is a form of team deathmatch. The emphasis is on close-quarters combat, and a new spawn point system has been implemented. Scattered around each map are waypoints indicating potential spawn points. We were able to run up to these and capture them, allowing us to spawn much closer to the enemy when killed. Of course, these can easily be captured by the enemy as well, so there is an element of strategy involved in deciding which points to take and which to defend. This mode also allowed us to check out some of the improved character classes. There are five in total, with six weapons and abilities on offer for each class. They are tactician, infiltrator, engineer, and marksman. We tried our hand at field medic, which has been substantially overhauled. One of the field medic’s new abilities is the minidrone, which is a small drone that you can launch in a match. It follows you around, helping to defend your character while you heal others. It also has the ability to revive you when you're on the verge of death, which proved extremely useful during our play-through. However, it works for only a limited time, so well-timed minidrone launches are key to making it through a battle alive.
Though we weren’t able to try them out, exoskeletons and improved jetpacks are now available to use in the multiplayer. In a video we were shown, exoskeletons were being used to mow down several enemies with ease, firing off hundreds of rounds of bullets at once. They’re not entirely infallible though, and we saw some well-placed sniper shots take out the pilots of them swiftly. The jetpacks' range has been increased vertically, allowing you to fly much higher and pick off enemies from afar. Other additions include an increased ranking system to level 45, more than 100 medals, and a round-based ribbon system. The often brutal melee kills from the single-player game have transitioned over to the multiplayer, allowing you to stab your opponents in the eyes or slice their throats at will.
Killzone 3 looks great, and the Phyrrus City map we played was full of detail. The destroyed urban environment was littered with open roads, wrecked buildings, and plenty of tight corridors for close-encounters action. Killzone 2 was a graphical showpiece for the PlayStation 3, and even at this stage its sequel is looking to live up to the same standards. Killzone 3 is due for release February 2011. Keep reading GameSpot for more Gamescom coverage over on our dedicated hub.