Every now and then you come across a very special kind of game that unveils what human entertainment is. Deep within each and every one of us, there is a need to escape what we know, to break free from reality and its choking confines and dive into un-reality. I am occassionally a hero, a saviour, a martry, a general, and throughout my battles and suffering that I have taken on willingly, and gladly, I have never ever wanted so badly for my virtual world to become my real world, so I could just shoot that annoying kid from Killzone: Mercenary right in his head.
For a game whose advert has continually and arrogantly yelled in my face that ‘YOU’RE A GOD DAMN MERCENARY NOW, MORALITY IS FOR BITCHES’, you’d expect that the campaign (all three hours of it) would have you fighting on either side of the Helghan/Eath conflict and seeing some horrific stuff perpetrated by both factions, while you, a silent protagonist, merely collected the cheques and moved on. What you wouldn’t expect is, say, that the entirety of the campaign would revolve around you fighting for a kid named … I can’t believe I have to type this trash …’Justus’ (pronounced ‘Justice’, is case it wasn’t subtle enough). Half Helghan, half Earthling, 100% annoying.
There is no more painful sound than the futile clicking of a gun that’s aimed at the head of a child.
Leaving aside the plot (which I gave as much thought to as the game’s writers put into when they were deciding, Justus’ name), Killzone: Mercenary is surprisingly good. When I first got my hands on it back at E3, I was nothing short of amazed at how the game ran – the sticks felt good, the game didn’t chug, and the graphics – it felt like, for the first time in the Vita’s history, that I was actually playing a PS3 on the go. Barring some extremely rare cases of the game running a little slowly, and having to adjust stick sensitivity to maximum so I didn’t spend half my time in battle simply trying to turn around, Mercenary is easily the best current example of what the Vita can achieve.
Having said that, Mercenary is still a pretty average shooter that’s just different enough to save you from feeling like you’ve played the same game a hundred times before. You begin the game with a pretty standard loadout, and as you advance, you earn money by completing missions and killing everything on the screen that moves. Money can be exhanged for goods, like in the real world, only in Mercenary, you’ll be buying armaments. You may let out a wearied sigh as you check through the usual guns, accessories and specialty armour, but there’s a good chance you’ll raise an eyebrow in bemused contemplation as you see what the VAN-Guards have to offer.
VAN-Guards are basically aids used to suit your style of gameplay. Love blowing shit up? Choose the procupine missile launcher, which will highlight all enemies within lock-in distance and availability, and simply screen on the enemy to launch a missile right into their face. Like playing stealthily? Choose the camo and regret playing stealthily.
Seriously, you cannot play this game stealthily. Killzone is not exactly known for the lithe movement of its soldiers, and you could say that controlling a character in Killzone is like trying to ride shotgun in a drunken trolley with a hunger for murder. This amounts to stealth having sweet FA to do with gameplay. It would help, for instance, if your head didn’t sit above every piece of cover offered. Your cranium is basically the only thing for the enemy to aim at during gunfights, and it’s going to get you shot many, many times. Killzone 3 had way better stealth mechanics, even in multiplayer. Come on guys, get it together.
Anyway, the main differentiator between Killzone: Mercenary and other Killzone’s (or shooters, I guess), is that you have to pay in order to re-equip previously bought weapons. It’s at a fraction of the cost of having bought it, but it does still play a small part in making the player really think about what they need. A very small part. The more I write this review the less I actually think of the game, which is sad considering what how solid the mechanics are.
I’d love to talk about the multiplyer at length, but as the modes are the same rehashed stuff we’ve seen from previous Killzone games (and not to mention every FPS to date). Oh, and I can rarely find a multiplayer match online, and when I do, it’s with one other person. Not as fun as you might think, though, once again, hats off to how well the game runs even online on that scrappy little handheld.
- Reviewed On
- PS Vita