by Lucca Runger-Field
previewed on PS3
Entering The Zone
The initiation of the Killzone 3 public beta has caused quite an uproar in the gaming community. Some people were angered by the fact that it was limited exclusively to PS Plus subscribers, whilst those who had signed up to the service clearly loved it. There was a tiny problem though, within that subset of users, it was further limited to the first 10,000 people from the EU and 5,000 from the US who downloaded a special Killzone 3 theme. All the EU codes were snapped up in 30 minutes. This just goes to show how much the gaming community is anticipating this release. So if you are one of those many who missed out, read on for in-depth hands on impressions and further info from the multiplayer beta.
Upon starting up you are given the opportunity to choose between your normal online Multiplayer or Botzone. Bots have been revamped since they were last seen in Killzone 2, and range in difficulty from Recruit right up to Elite. The improvement in AI between each of these is certainly noticeable. While Recruits are practically cannon fodder, Elites will give you more than a run for your money, often playing better than perhaps a human player would. Botzone is best suited to people who either want some practice or time to try out all of the classes before going online, or possibly those who do not have internet access at all.
Appealing To The Senses
What will first strike you when jumping into the game are the graphics that are looking as gorgeous as ever. In one of the three Beta levels called Frozen Dam, snow will constantly swirl around you when you are outside, making for a convincing winter atmosphere. Backed up by the chilling sound of a gusting wind, the audio-visual package entices the feeling of actually being there. Being built from the same engine as its predecessor, Killzone 3 contains many familiar aspects that the series has become renown for. This is in no way a critique as this promises detailed and realistic environments with some textures and lighting effects stopping me in my tracks. The visuals surpass those of Killzone 2 and if it were not for the constant presence of the words “Alpha Code” at the top of the screen, I could have been fooled into thinking this was a final build. Reload animations are as fluid as always, character models have been improved, and the backdrop will catch your attention with passing dropships, missiles launching into the sky and some stunning environmental events such as lightning. This high level of thought and detail never ceases to amaze, and oftentimes you will find yourself having to stop and take in the view.
As far as sound is concerned, there is nothing particularly new as far as I can tell. Many of the audio details are recycled from Killzone 2, but it would seem odd to change sounds that have become associated with certain weapons, especially when it is not necessary. Given that this is an early stage in development it is almost guaranteed that Guerrilla Games will refresh and enhance the sound palette, so I am not worried that the audio may lack at this point.
One of the recurring complaints associated with Killzone 2 were the controls. At times they felt far too heavy and delayed in comparison with other top-selling FPS games. This seems to have been perfectly remedied in Killzone 3 though. The controls are reminiscent of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, as while they are far tighter and more responsive, they still retain a certain measure of heaviness. The buttons are mapped almost identical to Killzone 2, with a zoom function that is toggled by clicking the right analog stick, and the L1 button functioning as melee. This can be reversed in the options menu if needed.
Frozen Dam takes place on what is presumably one of the arctic coasts of Helghan. Once you work your way up from the sea, flanked on either side by buildings that are interconnected by bridges, you will reach a wide-open area covered in snow.