Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: KillZone: Liberation

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Electronic Theatre ImageKillZone and KillZone: Liberation were developed by Guerrilla Games, the team also responsible for making Shellshock: Nam ’67 back in 2004 and, at the minute, they are developing a new title in the KillZone series exclusively for the PlayStation3. Guerilla Games is a Dutch First-Party team purchased by SONY Computer Entertainment in 2005. KillZone: Liberation is a sequel to the PlayStation2’s disappointing original KillZone. The series sets you in an era of space colonization. You are a member of the ISA, which are at war with a group of super-human-esque soldiers that colonized the planet Helghan many generations ago. The Helghast lost the first Helghan War and have set-out to have their revenge on the ISA. The ISA have colonized the planet Vekta, the Intro FMV sees a group of Helghast space craft slip straight passed Vekta’s orbital defences, Vekta would soon become the battle ground of the second Helghan War, and it’s up to Captain Jan Templar and a group of three other playable heroes to save Vekta from the Helghast Empire and end the second Helghan War.

KillZone: Liberation sees no exceptions, the war between the ISA and the Helghast is still raging, and the Helghast are trying to gain the upper-hand Electronic Theatre Imageby using brutal battle tactics and capturing ISA VIPs. As mentioned above, you play as Captain Jan Templar again and it is up to you to liberate Vekta from the grip of the Helghast Empire and save the VIPs from certain-death. In order to accomplish this, the game has you helping ISA grunts and taking offensive action against the invading Helghast troops. By clearing areas that are heavily occupied by the enemy forces you can progress through the game; it is important to make sure the path is clear from any Helghast soldiers as at times you are required to escort a VIP back to a drop-ship so they can be flown to safety.

Engaging in close-combat with the Helghast soldiers is a lot more tactical than its PlayStation2’s predecessor, as the Helghast soldiers act more like the enemies from the Metal Gear Solid games, delivering a vastly approved A.I. when compared to the original release, so rather than rush-in all-guns-blazing, you are advised to think things through a bit before making an attack.

The title features a radically different view-point than Guerrilla’s previous effort. Rather than a first-person perspective like the original KillZone, KillZone: Liberation has a top-down, pseudo-isometric view much like many RPG releases on the Game Boy, for example Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, except KillZone: Liberation is generated entirely in 3D, instead of the 2D isometric view of the Tony Hawk’s series on the Game Boy Advance. This new view gives you a large perspective of the part of the Level you are on, allowing you to see where the enemy troops are, and how to go about either sneaking past or attacking them. The new perspective, however, isn’t all good as it is fairly tricky to aim with; to get a hit on the Helghast soldiers you have to point in their direction until you see a Health Bar appear above them. With a group of foes to kill at once, trying to get a lock-on them is difficult, as you are desperately trying to hit one while three more have a perfect target on you. A Warning System clearly influenced by the Metal Gear Solid series allows the player to tell whether the Helghast have spotted you: a coloured light in their goggles reflects their current situation; if they are yellow it means they are unaware of your presence, orange means they are wary and red means they’ve spotted you and you’re in a world of trouble.Electronic Theatre Image

The Helghast soldiers are also very good shots and the later Levels do get fairly challenging, with enemies improving in efficiency and quantity. Sometimes there are just too many Helghast for one person alone to take down, luckily you have some help from a few familiar faces.

KillZone: Liberation has all the weapons from the first game, with new additions to your arsenal. The explosive-tipped Crossbow comes in handy, while, unlike the first KillZone, you get to pilot a couple of vehicles – the Hover Tank is incredibly fun to drive (and makes you feel like a god whilst doing so), and the Hover Craft which works like the Hover Tank control-wise, but is a lot harder to steer, plus its really fast and lightly armoured so it won’t last long against enemies with Rocket Launchers.

Graphically, the game isn’t amazing, but it has a nice look about it and features some impressive additions and attention to detail. Splashes on water, windows that smash if shot and explosions that look pretty cool all aid to the overall look, however, with the colours of the game being very dull and bland there’s often an overriding sense of repetition in the Level design, regardless of the fact they fit with the gritty futuristic war theme the game has set for itself. The Introduction FMV is the sort of quality you’d see from the FMV Cut-Scenes on big-budget titles such as Final Fantasy X, but the mid-game Cut-Scenes use the in-game Graphics Engine.

The title feature the usual array of war soundbites, like the background gunfire and explosions, the gunfire from yours and your enemy’s weapons are clear and when Luger speaks to you through the communicator, he speaks with a clear and definable voice. The background score during gameplay has a sinister war feel during areas with enemy forces in occupation, but then will change to a more heroic score when you have cleared an area. Unfortunately though, you’ll hardly recognise the change-of-pace due the poor calibration of the volume between the music and effects.

KillZone: Liberation is a quite decent game, and a nice sequel to the first, but fans of the first game may be disappointed, as many Metal Gear Solid fans were with the arrival of Metal Gear Ac!d, purely due to the change-of-pace. The new perspective feels less precise and distances the game from the action side of playing, to Electronic Theatre Imagefocus more on the tactical approach. The original KillZone on the PlayStation2 was dubbed a “Halo Killer” by the PlayStation-centric press, and was a disappointment to many. KillZone: Liberation has managed to avoid being branded in a similar way, and this can only be to the title’s advantage. The biggest issue with the game is the fact that the PSP already has a pretty uncomfortable control method, this is made worse by the fact that to control Templar you must use the Analogue Nub which after fifteen minutes of play starts to really hurt the knuckle on your thumb. Aside from the pain though, there’s an issue with the aiming: it’s too fiddly when it comes to squaring-off against more than one Helghast soldier at a time. There is an online Multi-Player featured also, offering Co-Operative Missions, Deathmatches, and Team Deathmatches with up to six players simultaneously, this and the collectables throughout the game give the game a lot of replay value, if your thumb feels up to it that is.

 

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