Gun for Hire

It’s really amazing to see something in my hands that simply looks identical to something you would see on a living room console. Ladies and Gentlemen, Helghast and UNC – this is Killzone: Mercenary.

Killzone: Mercenary drops you into the boots of Arran Danner, once a battle hardened UNC soldier now turned mercenary-for-hire because money is better than honour right? The whole philisophy of “There’s no good or evil” plays a vital role in the story as Arran fights for whatever side that pays the most. Does his morality get to him? Well it’s kinda obvious where this is heading so it’s not the game’s strongest selling point. It was more that the game plays and functions similar to the Killzone 3 on PS3.

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…in fact. The game does use a modified version of the same engine from Killzone 3 so you can understand the impeccable visual supported by incredible depth in sound design. What really takes the cake for me, is the way that the controls feel so natural and easily accessible. Anybody who has played an FPS on console can pick this up and play without any problems. L is for aim, R is for shoot, rear touch pad is for zoom and the touch screen is for other various functions such as switch weapon, use grenades and utilize melee. Using melee not only gives you an instant kill, but it also treats you to various assassination animations, including the painful-looking genital stab. As entertaining as that is, watching the same kill animations over and over again does start to lose its flare and soon enough you will realize it is just another form of the QTE (Quick Time Events) we have experienced in almost every game recently. With such long animations, going for a melee kill in the middle of a firefight usually ends up being more detrimental than the kill is worth.

Impeccable visual supported by incredible depth in sound design.

The A.I is nothing to laugh at as well, they are not Storm troopers running around mindless not being able to hit a single Jedi. The enemies in Killzone: Mercenary will actively try to outflank you and can hit you even while they are blind firing. Although I did notice that the shotgun wielding Helghast would start to shoot from quite a distance away. Definitely Storm Trooper material right there. I have yet to encounter an enemy that was too bullets spongey, each enemy died after a reasonable amount of bullets were placed in them. This is a real plus in my books.

To assist you in dispatching the hordes of enemies you will face throughout the game, Mercenary gives you the biggest weapon load out in the series. From the toxic VC-G11 Gas grenades to the Mantys Engine unmanned head stabbing van-guard drone, dispatching pesky Helghast just got more entertaining. Even with a vast array of weaponry, I have not experienced a weapon that felt far too over powered as of yet. The rate at which you typically earn the amount of money to purchase each weapon is very consistent with the climbing learning curve of the game.

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With such a vast load out, it is inevitable for there to be multiple play styles present in the game. Whether you prefer to have all head shots, more stealth or just plain blowing stuff up, this game gives you quite a number of options in regards to how you want to accomplish your mission. This feature is highly emphasized in the games “Select Contract” mode, which allows you to replay each mission but allowing you to specifically choose what style you prefer to play. Each style has its own set of missions that really define each style from the other. For example, Precision style requires you to achieve 25 headshots, Covert style requires that you do not get detected for the main part of the mission and Demolition style requires you to take out a tank using your Sky Fury orbital laser. Unfortunately, the stealthier style of play is a a much more profitable play style throughout the main story as stealth kills and going through sections without being detected nets you in much more money than the run and gun approach.

Killzone: Mercenary truly does set the bar for handheld FPS. Not only does it look spectacular it plays like a champion as well. Although suffering frame rate drops here and there, Mercenary really does utilize the PS Vita’s hardware and button lay out in a very optimal manner. Whether you like to go about things very stealthily or you prefer the sheer brilliance of Shock and Awe, Mercenary provides an enjoyable experience for all and is a must purchase for all Vita owners.

Please note: This review was written pre-launch and since then a patch has been released to fix performance issues.

Developer: Guerilla Cambridge
Publisher: Sony CEE
Platform: PlayStation Vita

*Review copy provided by the publisher.