Although we’ve got nearly four months before Killzone 3 is finally available in finished form, the beta test is currently running and after significant play time, it’s safe to say one thing: few will be disappointed come February. In addition to being the prettiest multiplayer experience to date – the beta alone proves the game is a visual masterpiece – it should also be one of the most stable and robust online shooters around. One can only guess at the sheer level of detail and vibrancy we’ll see in the single-player campaign; the maps included in the beta certainly give us hints and clues, and the spectacular gameplay is one huge indication of overall quality. If you’ve been lucky enough to score a spot in the beta, you’ll likely agree with what is said here; if you’re on the outside looking in….well, I hate to be smug, but you’re missing out. I’m not even a fan of multiplayer action and I found this to be highly entertaining.
Perhaps the weight alteration should be the first order of business. KZ2 had a very particular weight and feel that separated it from other titles in the genre. Now, some of that feel remains and it’s certainly weightier than a Call of Duty , for example, but Guerrilla has clearly tweaked the formula; your character is a bit more fleet of foot and while the animations and reactions are realistic, the heavy sensation has been lifted to some degree. I’m not sure if fans of KZ2 will be happy to hear this, but they shouldn’t be too surprised, as the developers have spoken about the control changes during interviews this year. Perhaps it was about bending to peer pressure or perhaps it’s just because the designers thought they’d make it better with less weight…or maybe it’s a combination of the two. Either way, though, while I do miss the distinct heaviness of KZ2, the weight isn’t completely gone and control is borderline sublime.
The beta offers you the chance to participate in all sorts of modes, including standard Guerrilla Warfare (basically Team Deathmatch) and a more specialized Operations mode where satisfying various objectives are the name of the game. Small cut-scenes accompany the latter, which gives it more of an adventure-driven theme, and you can always pick between five separate “Careers” before loading out. There’s Tactician, Engineer, Infiltrator, Field Medic, and Marksman, all of which have specific primary weapons and special abilities. The Engineer, for instance, can repair busted ammunition boxes. Your choice will likely depend on the map, too, as the smaller Frozen Dam area might prompt you to choose the Infiltrator and his devastating up-close shotgun. This is the kind of strategy multiplayer aficionados have come to expect in their online experiences, so it’s not really anything new, but it all works exceedingly well.
The controls and balance are just about right and it’s pretty tough to spot any glaring problems that need to be fixed. There’s one stairway in the Frozen Dam that sort of has a broken step; you have to jump over it even though it doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with it. There are also a few minor hitches and glitches here and there but besides that…I’m not sure what else Guerilla has to do, besides dot a few “I”s and cross a few “T”s. Camping is sort of discouraged and the stealth kills and jetpacks are nice features that don’t feel tacked on or out of whack, although it can be immensely frustrating to be stuck on a map with a lot of sneakers, who wait in the shadows to slit your throat. I also think spinning on the X axis can be a touch flighty. But besides that, this is about what one would expect from Killzone 3 : a pretty damn amazing shooter with a ridiculous amount of potential. They’ve got almost four months to polish this up…? Just a few tweaks and some fine-tuning? Well, damn.