Killzone Mercenary: E3 2013 Impressions
Posted on Monday, May 20 @ 15:15:00 Eastern by Daniel Bischoff
I can't put Killzone: Mercenary into words any better than Anthony did when he previewed it earlier this year. PMCs in Killzone's universe "don't take sides, they only take lives... and money... all they care about is money." Fans of Guerilla's first-person shooter series will love this playful premise, but I've never played a Killzone game end-to-end. Does that mean I'm not qualified to speak about this new entry? Normally I'd say yes, but I am a Vita owner, filled with hot promises and a lot of disappointment.
I should have been "first-person-shootering" all over town with Sony's handheld, but Unit 13, Resistance: Burning Skies and, to an even greater extent, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified fell flat. Why is it so hard for compelling first-person gameplay to survive on the go? Burning Skies tried massive bosses, Unit 13 perfectly timed missions to squats on the john, and Call of Duty... well, let's not speak of Declassified.
Gameplay aside, Guerilla Cambridge has certainly delivered visuals. Environments in the E3 2013 demo I played last week simply astounded. Textures are highly detailed, wreckage and interesting objects litter the landscape, and even red-eyed Helghast will want to take a few drops of Visine to enjoy Vita's pixel-pushing power.
Like Uncharted: Golden Abyss or Assassin's Creed: Liberation, impressive visuals on a handheld machine can certainly move copies of Mercenary. Character models, weapons in our first-person hands, and even the sky could sell a Vita or two, but luckily Mercenary's shooting and touch-controls combine for fluid and satisfying combat.
You can use buttons or touch controls for many key functions, but the VAN-GUARD weapon system will likely be your favorite method of tapping the life out of enemy forces. In this demo, I got control over the Porcupine, a shoulder-mounted homing missile system that could be activated or deactivate with a quick tap. When Porcupine is online, enemies will have touch icons on them when in range. Tapping on these will fire a missile without inhibiting your trigger fingers.
I quickly started to carve my way through the level, tapping on enemies not immediately within my line of sight and training my reticle on any Helghast foolish enough not to stick to cover. Other weapons like UAV-esque VULTUR will provide different functions, but the core shoot-grenade-stab mechanics are all there too.
Killzone: Mercenary might save the Vita or it might not. Maybe the Vita doesn't need saving. At this point, who the hell cares? It's Vita software, and its gampelay isn't immediately abhorrent to my senses. That's all this early hardware adopter needs to know.
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