Get Into the ‘Killzone’

With each new release in the “Killzone” franchise, the developers at Guerrilla Games have consistently topped themselves in grandiose fashion. “Killzone 3” is without a doubt a slimmer, smarter and more cinematic shooter than its predecessor, and makes a great centerpiece for any gaming collection.

“Killzone 3” picks up exactly where “Killzone 2” left off, propelling the player into the struggle between the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance (ISA) and the Helghast Empire, a faction of humans colonizing the planet Helghan. In a simpler description, the Helghans are a bunch of angry, futuristic jerks with British accents wearing gas masks and Nazi uniforms. It’s important to note that from this point on, “Killzone 3’s” story is entirely irrelevant. The voice acting alone warrants players to mute cut scenes and just stare in awe at the graphical prowess of the PlayStation 3. But if you’re in search of a moving plot, look elsewhere.

As a member of the ISA, your main objective is to violently bring down these big bads with an impressive arsenal of cutting-edge weaponry. “Killzone 3” packs many familiar guns and gadgets, doling out a large selection of shotguns, sniper rifles and rocket launchers. Mounted armament can be picked up and maneuvered for ultimate chaos, and heat-seeking mortar guns are also thrown in for good measure. But what really makes “Killzone 3” stand out are its newest tools of destruction. There’s a bolt gun that forcefully pins enemies to nearby walls and can take out flying mechs with one hit. Similar to a weapon used in the film “District 9,” a massive green ray gun known as the “Arc Cannon” can pop an enemy soldier like a water balloon filled with pudding. It’s a blast to use, but the ammo runs out fast.

To change up the pacing, Guerrilla Games added an easily accessible jet pack that lets players fly above the heads of their enemies while controlling a machine gun armed with infinite ammo. The device is surprisingly simple to control and adds a lot of variety to what could be a basic first person shooter. But to really break up any repetition, new environments are around every corner in “Killzone 3.” In one level you’ll be trailing through a desert wasteland in a rail shooter style of play. In another you’ll be trekking an arctic backdrop or stealthily infiltrating a swampy jungle base.

“Killzone 3’s” multiplayer isn’t a huge improvement from what fans are used to with the franchise. But with the addition of a smoother control scheme, trying to shoot other players online no longer feels like you’re simultaneously giving Rosie O’Donnell a piggyback ride. Aiming is easier and more fluent, paving the way for a more accessible game. Each specific class – engineer, marksmen, tactician, infiltrator and medic – are powerful from the get-go. While there are plenty of upgrades to be earned, anyone can jump right in and get a heaping pile of kills.

Aside from the excellent design and industry leading graphics, “Killzone 3” also supports PlayStation Move control and 3-D compatibility for those wanting to put down the extra cash. Sadly, if Guerrilla Games had opted to spend a little extra time and money in creating an online co-op experience instead of just local co-op support, “Killzone 3” could have been the must-own shooter of the year. For now, it’s an above average visual spectacle that will most likely drown out later in the year with the release of other polished first-person shooters.