What will it take for the "Killzone" series to get some respect?

jheeter@macon.comMarch 4, 2011 

I’m not sure “Killzone” has ever received the respect it deserves.

Perhaps it’s because the series is exclusive to one system, but I just don’t feel like most people consider it one of the great recent first-person shooters alongside “Call of Duty,” “Halo” or even “Gears of War.”

This is not to say “Killzone” is some hidden gem. After all, it’s one of the tent pole exclusives for the PlayStation 3. I’m just not sure it’s won over as many people as the aforementioned games.

Maybe that attention will come with the recent release of “Killzone 3.”

The fourth game in the series -- “Killzone: Liberation” was a PSP release -- brings back the struggle between the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance and the Helghast Empire. Although both sides are human, the Helghast wear gasmasks and goggles after being banished to the harsh planet Helghan prior to the game’s events. They are deformed after surviving in the conditions on Helghan, and they maintain a healthy hatred for their human counterparts in the ISA. Led by charismatic dictator Scolar Visari, the Helghast want revenge for their banishment.

The first game’s events took place on ISA’s colony planet Vekta, while the second game saw the ISA invade Helghan.

The third game begins shortly after the end of the second. Protagonist Sev is stuck with his team on Helghan, the planet that should be considered a character in the game. The creators really brought this bleak world to life, often giving it a dark and dangerous feel.

The story for “Killzone 3,” however, might be the weakest of the series, and the characters tend to be a little one-dimensional.

That hurts the game a little, dropping it a little below “Killzone 2” in the series’ pecking order.

But you’re really playing a first-person shooter for strong gameplay, and “Killzone 3” definitely delivers in that department.

The developers seemed determined to make “Killzone” a more gritty series than other shooters. The series has some epic moments, but I always felt like action was fairly contained to my group of soldiers inside of this greater war. The dreary setting, intense combat and visceral impact give the game a realistic feel despite taking place on an alien planet. “Halo” and “Gears of War” are great games, but both appear cartoonish when compared to the intensity of the battles in this game.

The original “Killzone” came out before multiplayer became a must, so the series has done a nice job catching up and creating a fun multiplayer mode. The game also has 3D capabilities for those with 3D-ready televisions, and can be used with the PlayStation Move. I’m not sure how either of those options hold up.

“Killzone 3” is a fine achievement. It’s probably not as strong as it’s immediate predecessor, but it’s still well worth your time.

Jonathan Heeter writes occasional video game columns for The Telegraph.

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