Review

Killzone: Mercenary Review

  • Game release: September 10, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • VITA

Killzone: Mercenary is a standard but enjoyable shooter and one of the best-looking games on the Vita.

by

Viewed purely in comparison to other handheld shooters, Killzone: Mercenary stands above the pack with its stunning visuals and its fine controls. That's not quite enough to make it a great shooter, just a good one. It doesn't reach the high standards set by the last few Killzone games on consoles, or distinguish itself from any number of other shooters you've probably played over the years. But it's a gorgeous, thoroughly competent, intermittently exciting game that controls well and has an assortment of powerful and enjoyable weapons and gadgets to use.

You play as Danner, a mercenary whose loyalties are available to whoever has more space dollars on offer. You end up working for both the ISA and the Helghast over the course of the campaign, though as luck would have it, your tasks usually align with whichever side has the moral high ground in any given situation, so you can feel good about pumping bullets into soldiers on both sides of the conflict. (Aim for their heads, because even though they're no more dead when they go down, you earn more money, for whatever reason.) The story is absurd; one character's development follows the most cliche arc imaginable, as she goes from peace envoy to the sort of cartoonish, megalomaniacal villain who shouts things like "Innocent lives are the price of peace!" And attempts to make Danner seem like a noble warrior of sorts fall completely flat, since he seems to have no choice but to do what he ends up doing, if he wants to survive.

The harsh environments of Helghan look stunning in Killzone: Mercenary.

Though the story is silly, the worlds of Vekta and Helghan are strikingly beautiful in their stately elegance and their industrial ugliness. Neon signs are reflected in puddles in cluttered marketplaces, steam hisses from pipes in science facilities, and the diffused light of the sun fills the hazy Helghan skies. The campaign's nine missions take you through embassies and factories, along city streets and rickety mountain catwalks. Your enemies exhibit some intelligence, taking cover and blind firing at you, and when they are numerous, they use the environment to their advantage, coming at you from multiple angles. Some areas give you the freedom to take a stealthy approach, if you're so inclined, and you occasionally have a couple of ways to enter a building, with one being sneakier than the other. But although you face a few different enemy types, including Helghast heavies with volatile tanks on their backs, the run-of-the-mill soldiers who make up the bulk of your opposition are awfully easy to pick off with headshots.

Depending on the weapon you're using, this might make their heads explode in a display of carnage that you see so often that it quickly loses any impact and begins to feel unnecessarily grim. Similarly, your stealth kills, which require you to swipe your finger across the touchscreen in the direction of a displayed arrow that then matches the direction Danner swings his knife in as he plunges it into his foe's chest or neck or head, only foster a sense of detachment between you and the action. Despite the intense violence on display, the delay between your input and the action makes pulling off these kills feel mechanical.

Brutal displays of violence like this may look hard-hitting, but they lose their impact fast.

Though standard firefights are broken up by the occasional hacking minigame, turret sequence, or other diversion, this is a game in which you spend most of your time shooting men in the face. Of course, the same could be said of many shooters, and because the controls are tight and the weapons feel powerful, it is satisfying to pop out from cover, take out an enemy or two, and then take shelter again as a shower of enemy bullets flies your way. But there's little in Killzone: Mercenary's core mechanics or structure to set the experience apart from ones you've likely had dozens of times before. This game is content to be a solid traditional shooter, and doesn't attempt anything that might have made it a special one.

In addition to the pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns, and other firearms you can purchase from the independent arms dealer kiosks conveniently located in each area where you find yourself fighting, there are an assortment of powerful tools called Van-guard systems available. You can carry only one of these at a time, and they have lengthy cooldown periods, but they can give you the upper hand when you find yourself in a sticky situation. The Mantys Engine is a remote-controlled flying device you can pilot around, sneaking up on unsuspecting enemies and killing them instantly by stabbing them in the head with its nasty pincers. While active, the Porcupine missile system surrounds visible enemies with red circles, and by tapping them on the screen, you launch missiles that are almost certain to take out those targets. These and other Van-guard items don't last long enough to make being a mercenary a pushover, but they do give you a welcome edge in the occasional tight spot.

They're also available in Mercenary's multiplayer modes, but here, as in the campaign, their use is so limited that they don't make any players overpowered or disrupt the flow of the action. The three modes break down into a standard deathmatch, a team deathmatch, and the series' signature Warzone, in which your objective changes over the course of the match. You need to collect cards from defeated enemies one minute to earn points, then hack open capsules containing Van-guard items the next. Much like the campaign, these multiplayer modes don't distinguish themselves from those you might have played in plenty of standard shooters on consoles, but it's quite novel to play such tight competitive multiplayer in a shooter on a handheld device.

Helghast or ISA. It doesn't matter, as long as the money's good.

And that's what Killzone: Mercenary comes down to. It's not remarkable among shooters in general, but as a handheld shooter, it raises the bar considerably and demonstrates that there's no reason a handheld platform like the Vita can't give us shooters that measure up to those on consoles. It simultaneously leaves you impressed with its terrific visuals and traditionally satisfying gameplay, and disappointed that it doesn't try to carve out more of an identity for itself. Still, if you're looking for a shooter you can take on the go, you won't find anything that equals Killzone: Mercenary.

The Good
Good assortment of powerful weapons and support devices
Enemies have smarts
Gorgeous visuals
The Bad
Silly story
Touchscreen melee attacks create a sense of detachment
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Before Killzone: Mercenary, the only Killzone game Carolyn had played was Killzone 2. Her writing services are not available to the highest bidder.

Discussion

309 comments
weizegger8
weizegger8

A 7? You f*cking out of youre mind?  You guys playing pokemon on 3DS ur what. This portable game has everything

kye-mc
kye-mc

This games deserves an 8.5 alone for portable multiplayer which is new and innovative. 

serial666k
serial666k

killzone set the bar. now i hope 3rd party fps for vita raise the bar. sweet

serial666k
serial666k

finally a fps for the vita. now if 3rd party games raise the bar, vita will be the hand held we all hoped

DeadlyMaster
DeadlyMaster

I still cant believe monster hunter games kept getting <6

even though they were dominating in Japan every year.

They should have reviewed MH with a friend so they could appreciate it.

salvodaze
salvodaze

Great review, I certainly hope that forced touch screen actions will be ditched soon thanks to Vita TV. I have yet to see one I find fun or useful and I imagine they would cause great distraction in a combat-heavy situation as intense as a melee attack. I hope Borderlands 2 won't have any of that nonsense.

Doomerang
Doomerang

Great review here Carolyn! I really like how you went into exactly what makes the game so fun, which is something I've noticed a lot of FPS reviews seem to lack and normally just go "lots of weapons" or "clever AI!". In fact, your review is the reason I actually picked up the game since you made it sound like it's right up my alley despite not being a FPS gamer normally. 

Now I'm playing it and your review was spot-on to the point where I am having a blast specifically because of the stuff you mentioned (wee killsat!). The only critique I have with the review is that you did kind of spoil the woman's role in the story, since she doesn't come across like that at all when you first meet her in the game >_>

pikadeth
pikadeth

Carolyn, stop giving us honest reviews. WE CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!


wormsonaplane
wormsonaplane

So... should TV console games be criticized for a lack of portability? Comparing with consoles is fine but let's ignore the powerhouse that is the gaming PC, its not fair then because those things are expensive! amirite :) ? But seriously, the closing statement was a commentary and nothing more.

Carolyn's opinion is her own, the score is arbitrary, and the actual review is what matters. If you enjoy silly stories and touch controls, move those to the "Good" section and score it a 9.0. For me, I agree most with Kevin VanOrd, you don't have to agree with every score.

For those still butthurt over the GTA V review, what makes you think the folks over at Rockstar didn't go "oh snap we never realized, but know we can do better." and make GTA VI into a masterpiece that can showcase how far the industry has come. 

DarziE
DarziE

Killzone is amazing on the vita and the best fps of any HANDHELD in terms of gameplay and graphics to date. Dont forget we are talking about handhelds not consoles.

Although I prefer my vita, I own every handheld so I am not a fanboy screaming out injustice, just giving credit where credit is due unlike Gamespot. I read the news on the sites and theirs is no different but I stopped using their reviews as credible a while back and this one is no different.

If you have a vita, buy this game! Its awesome. If your one of the very few who dont like it, thats ok, there are people who don't like chocolate too just not very many. *smile*

If we want more games like this we cant rely on gaming review sites anymore it seems, as reviews like this cost sales. Those sales translate into the budget of future games being developed that we want to play.

Skate360
Skate360

Way more cool than COD: Declasified in my opinion :D

beny_pimpster
beny_pimpster

hm a 7??? hm odd.......... i had fun on this even though i aint those COD battlefield lovers...

AtariKidX
AtariKidX

Awesome game for the PSVita.

themc_7
themc_7

does the vita have good controls? I've only ever held it once, I found the joystick to be sort of short and stubby, strange to control. Is an FPS game easy to control and play?  Also... I sort of hate how she compares this to a console shooter, obviously it's going to be different.

"It's not remarkable among shooters in general, but as a handheld shooter, it raises the bar considerably and demonstrates that there's no reason a handheld platform like the Vita can't give us shooters that measure up to those on consoles"

Handheld games are much different than consoles games, and they aren't for everyone. It's like saying a bicycle is slow compared to a car, but for a bicycle it's pretty fast. review it for what it is, not for what it's isn't!

alenth
alenth

Why the reviewer is comparing this game to console games? this is so idiotic, this is a handheld experience and as a handheld experience is a superb game and maybe the best FPS in handhelds, gamespot should stop these dumb standards to review handheld games on the Vita.

As another user said before, a 7 from this reviewer is a perfect 9.

fincavigia
fincavigia

I can't stop playing the multiplayer (even though I play it literally sitting in front of a TV). I'd definitely recommend this game to anyone.

toshineon
toshineon

Looks like a great game. I don't have a Vita, as I went with a 3DS back when both were introduced (which turned out to be a good decision later on). But I'm planning on getting one soon, this game and Persona 4 will probably be the first games I'll pick up for it.

PS360Wii4eva
PS360Wii4eva

For once I feel the gameplay trumps the visuals in a kz game. If anything I feel like the graphics look like any mobile game

acelogan1989
acelogan1989

another worst review from this reviewer after gravity rush , best shooter on vita , way better than resistance and cod declassified .  it should be 8/10 or even 9/10 . and why are this chick/dude (i dont know ) compare this to console shooter

erxevo
erxevo

A 7.0 nice coming from this reviewer it means is a perfect 9 

swimbearuk
swimbearuk

I've played the game through this week and spent some time in the multiplayer, with the intention of reviewing shortly. Aside from some bugs in the campaign, such as characters getting stuck in doorways, or NPC's not doing what they have to in order to make progress, it has generally been an excellent title. It is the shooter that I wanted for the Vita, although I was a little disappointed it was over so quickly, but what is there is similar to what I'd expect from a PS3. Only big issue for me was 4v4 multiplayer. That's very limited, especially given the size of the maps. I can't believe the Vita is responsible for not having 8v8 multiplayer.  I don't regret my purchase, mostly because it will be fun to play a FPS on a handheld, instead of Fifa, which was the only other Vita game I liked so far.

deltaalphagamma
deltaalphagamma

Vita is the worst handheld I ever bought, piece of crap returned it same day, if you want to put anything on the damn thing you need to connect to the internet ,THIS SONY BULSHIT IS EVEN WORSE THAN MICROSOFT XBONE PRIVACY VIOLATIONS 

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

@themc_7 I have big hands and found the vita a bit awkward for fps'. Then I bought a nyko power grip, and it's like holding a controller with a screen in it, and it doubles the battery life. I would highly recommend it if you have the space to carry it.

Masenkoe
Masenkoe

@themc_7 At first I thought the sticks on the Vita seemed awkward but after actually using them they are truly awesome. The controls are good. I've played Mercenary 7 is super low for this game. It's worth it.

aiat_gamer
aiat_gamer

@themc_7Handheld games are much different than consoles games, and they aren't for everyone...?! Are you high? 

PARTEMADRES
PARTEMADRES

@alenth I AGREE! A GREAT GAME... BUT WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FROM SOMEONE THAT REVIEW  POORLY GTA V... BY THE WAY... SHE WROTE THAT GTA V WAS "misogynistic" HAHA

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@alenth I'd rather the game was compared to the best so that the games in the future will be even better.

If we just compared it to Call of Duty Declassified there would never be a reason to make the future FPSs any better and that would be terrible. I personally think the game is great but it isn't as great as most console FPSs I've played. How will the developers ever know this if they aren't told?

aiat_gamer
aiat_gamer

@alenth Why not? You guys are absurd...just because a game is on a handheld does not mean it gets a pass when reviewed. I feel like Vita owners are so desperate for a new AAA game they will overlook any faults with ease.

Also, to everyone complaining, read the goddamn review before making yourself look like a fool:

"And that's what Killzone: Mercenary comes down to. It's not remarkable among shooters in general, but as a handheld shooter, it raises the bar considerably and demonstrates that there's no reason a handheld platform like the Vita can't give us shooters that measure up to those on consoles."

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

@toshineon The Vita is much better for gaming than the 3DS, but it lacks a library of great games. If it had more, then it would dominate!

Andrex1212
Andrex1212

@acelogan1989 I feel the same way... for one, I had no idea this was a woman based on her voice in the videos; I thought it was a really nerdy high school kid who is just hitting puberty... and the reviews are putrid... did they hire her just to make sure they'd keep rating games at least a full 10% or more below every other reputable source? I've been on Gamespot since 1998 or 1999, I can't remember exactly what year they started; but I am really getting to my last straw to where I leave for good...

acelogan1989
acelogan1989

@deltaalphagammayou can dowload custom CMA for your vita so you dont need internet connection . 

i cant believe noob like you exist on earth. .. 


jflkdjs
jflkdjs

@deltaalphagamma You can't judge the Vita after using it only for a single day! And what do you mean you have to connect it to internet to put anything on it? If you mean digital downloads, then simply don't download, buy physical copies instead, duh.

k--m--k
k--m--k

@deltaalphagamma I think Vita is best handheld console I ever bought so far


so there you go, its all balanced out

themc_7
themc_7

@aiat_gamer @themc_7 nope, not high. Why do you think I am? Handheld games are different. Take GTA China Town wars, that's a game that wouldn't work on consoles....it's different, made for handheld.

Mraou
Mraou

@DiverseGamer @toshineon Subjectively, you're entitled to that opinion. But objectively, you're wrong to say Vita has better games than 3DS.

Andrex1212
Andrex1212

@DiverseGamer @toshineon Not sure what you're talking about... There's TONS of games to play that are great quality too. The 3DS has maybe 8 or 9 that I actually have interest in or own. I absolutely love the Vita. The 3DS was kind of cool as a gimmick... but I rarely ever use the 3D other than to see how it looks with a new game. 

deltaalphagamma
deltaalphagamma

@jflkdjs it was just a mp4 file on my pc that I did want to put on the vita mem card, but no was blocked by vita software did need internet connection it say and then it say you need a psn account , so sony can scan your files what you want to put on your vita....... no thx   

Andrex1212
Andrex1212

@k--m--k @deltaalphagamma Me too... and not just by a little bit... this is the best handheld I've owned BY FAR and this is coming from someone who owned the original Gameboy and every single handheld that's come out since (yes even the N-Gage... T_T)

deltaalphagamma
deltaalphagamma

@k--m--k  good for you,  when you buy a game in a store do you also need a internet connection for activation or something before you can play that game?

eddy513
eddy513

There are games just for the VITA. People just don't wont to play them for some reason. I really don't get it. The VITA is the best handheld in stores and the games are great, but people keep say it have no games. You can even download some of the best PSP games. I just don't see the problems people have with the VITA. It have every thing people made the PSP had and more.

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

@Andrex1212 @DiverseGamer @toshineon 

Sure, there are tons of great games on the Vita, but how many are ports that you can get on the PS3? What I'm saying is, the Vita needs some games completely exclusive to the handheld itself. Then it would be almighty.

And I'm bored with the 3DS too!.I never use the 3D because it didn't really add to the experience for me, and now that I've played Animal Crossing thoroughly, I'm just about ready to sell it. .:P

Andrex1212
Andrex1212

@deltaalphagamma @jflkdjs You just sound like you're too stupid to own a fairly simple-to-operate piece of hardware (to today's standards considering every phone that's been out since 2006 has had the equivalent technology for the most part...)

Killzone: Mercenary More Info

  • Released
    • PlayStation Vita
    Killzone: Mercenary is a first-person shooter in the Killzone series developed specifically for the PlayStation Vita platform.
    8.6
    Average User RatingOut of 145 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Killzone: Mercenary
    Developed by:
    Guerilla Cambridge
    Published by:
    SCEI, SCEA, SCE Australia, SCEE
    Genres:
    Shooter, First-Person, 3D, Team-Based, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms