E3 06: Killzone Liberation Preshow Hands-On

The PS2's futuristic shooter goes portable and third-person in this new PSP game, which features a campaign as well as plenty of multiplayer options. Read our hands-on report.

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Guerilla's highly anticipated PlayStation 2 shooter Killzone got mixed reactions when it landed in late 2004. However, excitement over Killzone seemed to only increase from that point on, thanks to a jaw-dropping and controversial trailer for a Killzone game slated for the PlayStation 3. We're still very curious to see a lot more of that game, but for now, Guerilla and SCEA are whetting our appetites with Killzone: Liberation for the PSP. Though it ties directly into its predecessor's futuristic storyline, this next Killzone game will feature a completely different look and feel. These changes clearly make it a better fit for the PSP's control scheme, and they might just make for a much better game overall. Add tons of multiplayer options to that and Killzone: Liberation becomes a PSP shooter well worth keeping an eye on.

A representative from Guerilla explained that one of the first challenges the development team wanted to address when looking to create a Killzone game for the PSP was to make it feel right. Rather than try to cram the console experience onto a portable device, Guerilla tried pulling back the camera from a first-person perspective to an isometric, overhead viewpoint. The result is a look that's reminiscent of classic arcade games like Ikari Warriors or Commando, but also various real-time strategy games or action RPGs. However, Killzone: Liberation isn't really like any of those--it's a tactical shooter, so the new perspective should help you get your bearings in the dangerous environments. It also simply looks good. We were impressed by little details such as the shell casings spilling from the main character's machine gun, and the glowing red goggles of the Helghast soldiers he's fighting against. The game also features realistic physics, which are most noticeable when you blast a few Helghast goons high into the sky with a well-placed grenade. The game apparently repurposes some of the artwork from Killzone for the PS2, but with the new perspective, it honestly looks like a whole new game.

The single-player campaign will feature the cast of characters from the original Killzone, including Capt. Templar and heavy-weapons specialist Rico. Some missions will give you squad control, while others will revolve around a single character. Regardless, this isn't a run-and-gun shooter, which we learned the hard way after getting shot full of lead at point-blank range a couple of times. Instead, it's important to use cover, flush out entrenched enemies with grenades, and even set up diversionary maneuvers. Complex tactics will probably prove necessary, because the artificial intelligence seems to put on a surprisingly good show. Helghast soldiers will use cover and flank you if you're getting too comfortable behind a barrier. Destructible objects in environments also mean you won't be able to hide forever. Various context-sensitive actions are also possible, such as delivering a knockout blow against close-range combatants, or using various objects in the environment, such as mounted guns. We tried several different single-player missions, and each one seemed challenging and varied on first impression. One of them even opened with a rather impressive in-engine cutscene, sort of like the famed PS3 Killzone trailer, seen through Liberation's isometric angle.

In addition to the campaign, Killzone: Liberation will feature both ad hoc and infrastructure multiplayer modes. The original Killzone's strength was arguably in its multiplayer features, and Liberation seems like it'll continue that trend with an "everything but the kitchen sink" approach. Expect drivable vehicles, voice chat like in SOCOM: FireTeam Bravo, and multiple modes of play. We got a chance to check out some basic deathmatch action, and it proved to be pretty exciting. Being able to use all the same moves and abilities from the campaign made for dynamic battles, though there were times when one couldn't help but stand toe-to-toe with the enemy player and open fire until somebody dropped dead.

By presenting Killzone from a totally different angle and emphasizing tactical action with the same good-looking, hard-hitting style of the console game, Killzone: Liberation seems to have a good shot at outshining its predecessor. The action itself looks impressive and seems to have a lot to it, and the various modes of play, including both competitive and cooperative features, sound like they'll make for a lot of lasting appeal. The game is scheduled to ship this Halloween. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more details.

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