Although I’m not going to go into any detail, I’ll confess that I’m biased in favor of my PS3 rather than m Xbox 360. It feels better put together, seems to have more power, and I don’t have to pay to play online with my friends. So, yes, once again I am biased. In the interests of full disclosure, this isn’t exactly a professional, journalism oriented site. Strictly speaking, it’s a blog, though I’m trying to be honest, objective, and fair in most cases. Except for when it comes to my feelings towards Siffie.
Now, I could tell you the basic storyline of KillZone 3, but I don’t even know most of it. I can tell you what I know based on the ending of KZ2 and what I’ve seen in the promos for KZ3, but you can find that on just about any site. Not being a real journalist does hinder a good preview/review because I haven’t seen any more than what the average person has: I didn’t exactly receive a review copy from Guerrilla Games. Still, from what I’ve seen in the open beta, the maps are incredibly detailed, huge, and flat out beautiful. The Frozen Dam map is quite nice, and I love the fact that it’s not even remotely symmetrical. Symmetry is fair, and is often present in multiplayer games, especially in first person shooters, but it makes learning a map entirely too easy. The lack of symmetry makes them interesting and gives players spending time to learn them a huge advantage. I love that.
One of the biggest improvements in the game over KZ2 is the frame rate. In the previous game, the frame rate was usually pretty good but it often would get bogged down if there were a lot of players in the same area, dropping grenades, etc.. From what I’ve seen in KZ3, aside from two occurrences a few seconds apart, there was no noticeable slow down in the 6+ hours that I’ve played in multiplayer. This is good. This is really good.
Guerrilla has tweaked the multiplayer classes a bit from KZ2, and it’s obvious that they learned a lot from the prior game. For starters, they’ve eliminated the Assault class, with the rocket launcher as its default weapon. The Saboteur has migrated into the Infiltrator and the Scout has been renamed the Marksman. The Engineer and Tactician are still there, and still provide similar roles to what they did in the prior game, but there are some things you’ll need to know.
First, the primary and secondary abilities of each class now have three levels each, offering increased functionality and abilities with increasing skill level. For instance, the Marksman primary ability, cloaking, only works for a limited time. Unlocking the next level allows you to remain cloaked until you kill an opponent. Unlocking the top level allows you to remain cloaked even when killing an opponent if you use a silenced weapon. The secondary ability, which works automatically, keeps the sniper off the enemy radar to an extent. Maxing it out, and it completely disables the enemy radar and the Tactician’s marking ability within 15 meters.
This is great. But the drawback, versus KZ2, is that you no longer have the ability to mix and match secondary abilities from other classes. So, my KillZone 2 Combat Engineer (an engineer using the Tactician’s secondary ability to summon air support drones combined with the primary turret building ability) is history. I understand why it’s gone: it could severely hamper teamwork, and often had results unforeseen when Guerrilla released KZ2. For instance, my Combat Engineer could hold down an area by himself by building two automated turrets, adding air support, and getting behind cover with a shotgun. So far, in KZ3, the only time I’ve been able to have two turrets simultaneously is after I’ve gotten killed, and came back to build another one. A slight irritation I have with the new version of the Engineer is that he no longer comes with the shotgun, but now is equipped by default with a light machine gun that isn’t nearly as effective. On the other hand, one of the maxed out abilities of the Engineer is the ability to hack enemy turrets, and take control of them. I haven’t done that yet, but frankly I’m drooling over unlocking it.
Another change is that the C4 explosives are no longer a secondary ability of the Saboteur/Infiltrator. It is now available to all classes, once unlocked, and can replace grenades. Personally, I prefer grenades over the C4, but I like having the option to use it and still have my normal secondary abilities.
Perhaps the biggest game changer is what has happened to the Tactician. No longer does he wield spawn grenades to give his allies a tactical advantage at any point on the map. Now, like Capture & Hold objectives, there are several specific spawn points on the maps that the Tactician must capture in order to utilize. And just like Capture & Hold objectives, they can be captured by the enemy by simply being within a certain radius of the spawn point. The more Tacticians in the area, the faster it gets captured. This change prevents a common occurrence from KZ2: a Tactician would run into an objective and drop a spawn grenade right there, which would cause extremely chaotic battles and cause objectives to be lost or won entirely too easily. Guerrilla to fix this early in KZ2 by eliminating the temporary invulnerability when spawning in at locations other than the base, but ultimately it still caused a tremendous amount of chaos, and grinding through lives. The new system works better, I think, though it makes camping them entirely too easy. Once you know where the spawn points on a map are located, it’s just a matter of finding a good position to be the spawn camping bastard that everyone hates.
Another minor gripe is that the Marksman’s tier 3 primary skill allows them to remain cloaked after making a kill with a silenced weapon, but the only silenced weapon the Marksmen has regular access to is a silenced pistol. There is no option for a silenced rifle, assault or sniper, in his arsenal. Besides the silenced pistol, I think there’s a silenced submachine gun that the Tactician has access to, but, needless to say, the game’s sniper class should have normal access to a silenced sniper rifle, even if it’s not as powerful as the mid or top end rifle.
All in all, I’m very impressed with the game, and I’m really looking forward to seeing everything else that it has to offer. Though I’m currently unemployed and short on funds, I’ve already pre-ordered my Helghast edition, primarily for the cloaking sniper figurine. I’m even weighing the cost of getting the PS Move and Sharpshooter accessories to try to take the experience to another level, but I’m not yet convinced to do that… For those of you interested in a rating, I’d have to give KZ3 something in excess of 9.0 but not quite a 10. It’s really, really good, but then I’ve only seen a single level.