Preview – Killzone: Mercenary

Killzone Mercenary

So the multiplayer beta for Killzone: Mercenary ended today in anticipation of the game landing around the world in the next week. For those of you who were lucky enough to play it you’ll know that it’s the first shooter that holds it’s own on Sony’s handheld format, but for those that weren’t able to play,  here are my impressions!


Killzone: Mercenary is Guerrilla Games’ attempt at making a worthwhile shooter on the Playstation Vita. Attempts have been made before with Resistance: Burning Skies and Black Ops: Declassified but we aren’t going to talk about those, I think I’d much rather just forget they ever existed! Killzone is developed using a modified version of the Killzone 3 engine built for Playstation 3, and the first thing you notice when you get into the game is how damn good it looks. Hand’s down one of the best looking titles on the system, it is incredibly detailed with high resolution textures and a really good lighting engine. The thing I was most impressed by was just how well it held it’s framerate, even in a full 4v4 person firefight online I didn’t witness a single frame of lag, quite a feat considering how amazing it looks!

The beta was very limited, with 1 map and 1 game type available, yet I still managed to get addicted to it! The full game offers 3 multiplayer game types, a Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and the series standard Warzone (This was the mode on offer in the beta). Warzone does a good job of mixing up the action because it shifts the objective every few minutes. One of the things I didn’t like though was that the objectives are in the same order every game, a random objective as in previous games would have been preferable because it would have kept the mode dynamic, one of the reasons it’s been such a hit over the years. The game uses a money system which essentially counts as your XP, you gain it for kills, completing objectives and the like. This can then be used to buy new weapons, armour and equipment to give you the edge when it comes to mass killing. In the full game this money can also be earned in the campaign and counts towards your multiplayer funds, giving you a reason to play through the campaign.


All of this is of course great, but the big worry with anything handheld (especially shooters!) is how they control. While the Vita has 2 sticks, they aren’t exactly fully fledged analogue sticks and the difference is apparent when it comes to shooters. Fortunately after a little bit of adjusting, Killzone’s controls seem fairly streamlined. The touch screen is utilised for very little which is actually a very good thing. I’ve always found moving between touch and button controls a complete hassle, especially in fast paced games like this (fumbling in panic as a guy shoots your face off is one of my staple shooter trademarks, I’d rather that happened due to my incompetence instead of bad controls though!), however because the touch screen is used for very little the controls feel quite tight. This is a very good thing because the whole experience would fall apart if the control scheme didn’t live up!

Overall I actually really enjoyed my short time with the beta and I’m definitely interested to play the full game, this might well be one to watch on the handheld market!