Killzone Mercenary Preview
Killzone Mercenary’s excellent visuals and tight, addictive gameplay should make for a stellar PlayStation Vita exclusive later this year.
Sony has been touting the incredibly powerful PlayStation Vita handheld as a device that can deliver console-quality experiences in the palm of your hand. While it’s been proven that the Vita can display awe-inspiring visuals with its beastly hardware specs and crisp OLED screen, it’s been a bit lacking in the triple-A, killer app department. Uncharted: Golden Abyss was fantastic, and Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation was pretty good, but beyond those titles there haven’t really been any exclusives worth writing home about. Thankfully, Killzone Mercenary is shaping up to be a title worth dusting off your Vita for.
The first thing that I noticed when booting up the Killzone Mercenary preview build Sony sent over were the incredible graphics. I’d seen some screens here and there for the game ahead of time, but it looks gorgeous in motion, with great particle effects, lighting, and models – while managing to keep a smooth framerate most of the time. The game controls quite well, as the Vita was built with first-person and third-person shooters in mind. The two-thumb control scheme works well, and after five minutes with Killzone Mercenary you’ll likely forget that you’re playing on a handheld.
The feel of firing weapons is practically identical to the its console brethren, and things like weapon aiming might need to be tweaked a bit before the final build, as the Vita’s analog sticks are not as precise as the DualShock 3’s. Touch screen controls pop up a few times, for instance during hacking sections and when tapping enemies onscreen to shoot missiles, but it’s not overbearing. That said, tapping enemies on the screen while simultaneously aiming the camera with your right hand can be a bit tricky.
In Killzone Mercenary you control Danner, while the events of the game take place somewhere between the original PS2 Killzone and PlayStation 3’s Killzone 2. Immediately upon starting the preview slice of the campaign, you’re drop shipped into Helghast territory, where you need to make your way through a heavily-fortified base while maintaining a relatively low profile. This means shooting out security cameras and taking out enemies silently with melee knife kills. Some sections even have multiple routes, such as one notable sequence where I could either enter through the main doors or crash through a glass ceiling, Mission Impossible-style. The action feels a bit more arcadey than previous outings, as all kills and actions net you points that can be used to upgrade and purchase weapons and items. The Helghast are just as relentless as ever, and even on the Normal difficulty setting they will hunt you down and flank you without mercy.
Overall, I came away impressed with Guerilla Camebridge’s work on Killzone Mercenary. While there were some slight framerate hiccups and somewhat repetitive gameplay in the preview demo, the final build will surely be more refined, and the excellent visuals and tight, addictive gameplay should make for a stellar Vita exclusive later this year.