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Killzone: Mercenary Review

Posted by Joel Guttenberg On Monday 28 October 2013ADD COMMENTS

Available on PSV l Published by Sony l Developed by Guerrilla Cambridge l Classified R18+ l Supports 1-8 players

REVIEW IN BRIEF > The fifth Killzone outing brings almost everything you’d expect from a modern first person shooter to Sony’s handheld. Mercenary will have you killing for cash as you infiltrate a variety of heavily guarded areas and carry out a series of death defying missions. Combat and controls are slick and satisfying and the game looks and sounds great.

REVIEW IN FULL > After quickly bringing you up to speed on the Killzone story, the game seamlessly transitions from cut-scene to gameplay, and you’re thrown into your first mission as mercenary Arran Danner. The controls will feel almost instantly familiar, and that’s because they are proper first person controls. The dual sticks move you around in just the way you’d expect them to. The shoulder buttons function as triggers for aim and fire. You can also jump, duck behind cover, sprint and perform all of the actions you’d expect to find in a modern FPS.

The controls will feel almost instantly familiar, and that’s because they are proper first person controls.

The touch screen provides access to the few functions not covered by the Vita buttons. Touch screen icons allow you to throw grenades, interact with items such as doors or ladders, and trigger Mercenary’s awesome little melee events. These allow you to kill enemies in more violent ways, such as stabbing them in the head or causing fatal damage of a more … personal nature (ouch!). This is also a great way to take down some of Mercenary’s tougher adversaries. Armoured foes such as flamethrower troops seem to soak up a lot of gunfire, but fall much more easily to melee attacks. Although this may seem like a ‘tap-to-win’ scenario, it does occur in real time, so other enemies can still fire at you. You’ll mostly be fighting standard grunts, but you’ll also go up against drones, the occasional hulking brute, a mech, and the pyromaniac soldiers mentioned above.

You have access to decent range of weaponry, all at a cost. Your load-out consists of a primary weapon (light and sub machine guns, sniper rifle or assault rifles), a secondary weapon (from a range of pistols, shotguns and heavy weapons), grenades, armour and a single ‘Vanguard’ item to provide that extra edge. Vanguard items include a stealth suite, a ‘Porcupine’ portable rocket platform and the ‘Sky Fury’ which opens an overhead view of the immediate area and allows you to tap on enemies to obliterate them from above with particle beam strikes. In addition to using your gear to kill people, drones and tanks, you also use your Vanguard wrist computer to hack into computers and doors. This opens a fun little puzzle mini game that sees you using the touch screen to match up a series of hexagons within a time limit. Touch controls are also used to engage magnetic explosives and use items like poles, ladders and zip lines (wheeeee!).

Given that you’re playing a mercenary, everything revolves around money. You earn money for each kill, each terminal hack, each stealthy take-down. You even earn money for picking up ammo clips. You then get to spend your hard-earned cash at lockers provided by arms dealer Blackjack. You can buy and equip new weapons for list cost. Blackjack even charges you for changing your load-out to a weapon you purchased previously. Such is the life of a mercenary. You can also pay to refill your ammunition reserves.

Blackjack even charges you for changing your load-out to a weapon you purchased previously. Such is the life of a mercenary.

There are only nine missions and while the maps are a decent size, the campaign goes by quite quickly. Missions are varied with rescues, kill jobs, hacking objectives and other tasks to keep you on your toes. The story has you starting off by infiltrating a skyscraper to rescue ISA Admiral Grey, a war hero and weapons researcher being held by the Helghast. This triggers the series of events and missions that take the plot through enough twists and turns to keep the action moving along at a decent pace.

Most of Mercenary’s appeal and longevity will lie in its multiplayer offerings. Multiplayer supports up to eight players. You’ll fight across three game modes and six different maps depicting key scenes from the Killzone universe. At the moment, it is quick and easy to find a match and you won’t notice any lag. A faction based warfare mode, called Guerrilla Warfare, has you participate in ISA versus Helghast matches. A third mode called Warzone adds several mission objectives to team based play for a more involved multiplayer experience. This encourages varied strategies and thoughtful use of the more unusual gadgets available, such as signal jammers.

Overall, Killzone: Mercenary is a fun, cinematic experience that really shows that the Vita can do FPS games and do them well. With strong offerings for both single player and multiplayer, if you have a Vita, this qualifies as a must own title.

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