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Killzone: Liberation Preview

Joe_Dodson By:
GENRE Action 
T Contains Blood, Language, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Free to kill, you and me.

You can fault Sony for a lot of things, such as the death of their own global launch strategy, the European PS3 delay and blatant racism, but you can’t accuse them of failing to create some really cool games. Sly Cooper, Shadow of the Colossus and God of War are all incredible franchises that began trends as opposed to following them. Killzone, on the other hand, was marketed as a wannabe Halo rather than an original young gun, so when we heard about Killzone: Liberation for the PSP, our trigger fingers didn’t exactly itch.

click to enlargeAfter all, the PSP has been a dubious platform for shooters, and it was difficult to imagine that one analog stick would help Killzone’s aim when two had already failed. Fortunately, Sony has finally decided to do right by this franchise and take it in a bold new direction, that of the tactical shooter.
The plot picks up at the end of the original, with the Helghast on the run and you hot on their mutant tails. Names and dates aside, you’re a one man army sent in to kill everything with red or yellow eyes using an assortment of guns and grenades, and occasionally the help of some artificially intelligent friends.
But before we get to your computerized comrades, you should know the game is viewed from an isometric perspective. You run around bombed out locales with the thumb nub, automatically aiming at enemies if you’re facing their general direction. From there you can strafe around to dodge their return fire, or even better, take cover and fling a grenade their way. You can also run up and deck foes with your gun stock, then fill them full of holes as they struggle to get up. Lovely!
You can also go completely berserk in a tank with a nasty machine gun that automatically aims at foes in front of you. Meanwhile, the turret is controlled with the L and R buttons, and fires devastating rockets, letting you decimate enemies in at least two directions at once for twice the cathartic carnage.
click to enlargeDon’t get the idea that Killzone: Liberation is just a gung-ho gunslinger, though. Your enemies are pretty smart and will take cover while pelting you with grenades, or pin you down with suppression fire while sending a flanker. Since aiming is usually automatic, the emphasis is placed on tactical planning. Think the enemies are going to send a guy in behind you? Greet him with a claymore. Sniper got you pinned down? Pop a smoke grenade, then see how well he fights up close and personal.
While it’s usually you against the world, you’ll occasionally fight alongside a brother in arms, and be able to issue simple orders. At the press of a button, time slows down and every point of interest on screen becomes highlighted. If the point you select is an enemy, your man will attack. If it’s cover, he’ll hide there, and if it’s a mine, he’ll disarm it. You have lots of potential orders, and thanks to the slow mo, plenty of time to make wise decisions.
We’ve only played through about six single-player missions, though we had a little time with the multiplayer back at E3. In both cases what we played felt finished and looked great, and we can’t wait to liberate the retail version this October.

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