In the Killzone universe fighting the Helghast has been the norm for quite a while. Killzone: Mercenary has decided to spice things up. As a mercenary you will fight with both the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance (ISA) and the Helghast, whoever is paying the most money. Killzone Mercenary is also the first Killzone game made for the PS Vita, but it’s the first in the series not developed by Guerrilla Games. So how well does this first-person shooter (FPS), on Sony’s newest portable, stack up to the rest of the series? Choose your loadout wisely and get ready to make some V$’s
Picking up shortly after the ending of the first Killzone, Killzone: Mercenary makes stops in many familiar events from the Killzone trilogy. You are Arran Danner, a former United Colonial Army soldier who, after a peacekeeping mission went horribly wrong, has become a mercenary.
The overall story is a bit piecemeal with Danner jumping from location to location. After a while I just tuned it out.
Controls and Gameplay
Killzone Mercenary is a first-person shooter, a genre that hasn’t been executed well on portable systems until now. The Vita’s dual stick is perfect for this. We know the Vita is missing the L2 and R2 buttons and the sticks are not clickable like regular console controller but the game makes up for this with a few minor button rearrangements and by utilizing both the touchscreen and touchback. What’s surprising is how few controls are assigned to the touchscreen and touchback; most have assigned button alternates. The only controls that you are forced to use the touchscreen and touchback for are the melee quicktime events, terminal hacking, levers, and some VAN-Guards (specialized equipment).
The only problem I had with the controls was early on in the game. The aiming seemed way too sensitive. Luckily developer Guerrilla Cambridge put in the option to adjust the sensitivity. A little tweaking and it was good to go.
Graphics and Sound
Showing how powerful the PS Vita is, Killzone: Mercenary is running on a modified version of the Killzone 3 rendering engine. This makes it possibly the most realistic looking game on the PS Vita. It’s not without some occasional framerate problems, but it still looks really good for a handheld system.
While the script may occasionally veer close b-movie pulp, the voice acting never flinches. Every actor plays it straight and turns in great performances.
In the past, first-person shooters on portable systems have long been a losing proposition. The limits of the systems power and controls have always been a major letdown. The PS Vita with its controls a near exact recreation of a typicalcurrent gamepad allows for something past systems haven’t, a proper FPS control scheme.Because of this Killzone: Mercenary is possibly the best portable FPS available. I’m a big fan of FPS games and have played quite a few on past systems. They’ve always been a painful letdown. Terrible controls with terrible workarounds that made moving or shooting such an ordeal that I usually waited until the titles hit the clearance bins to even think about buying them.
Killzone: Mercenary is a game that gives FPS fans the kind of experience on a portable they have wanted for a very long time. It does it with great controls but also with customizable play in the loadout. In the game you get money for doing lots of things, scavenging ammo, headshot, successful melee attacks, etc. You can the take that money and buy equipment on the black market to customize your loadout to either your style of play or the type of mission you are on. Need to be stealthy? Lightweight armors and silenced weapons are available. Fighting in close quarters? Heavy armor and shotguns might be in order.
I’m excited to have Killzone: Mercenary in my PS Vita library. It’s not a perfect game, but it shows what the Vita is capable of and finally gives me a good FPS to play on the go. I give Killzone: Mercenary a 4 out of 5.
Killzone: Mercenary is rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, and Partial Nudity by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
For more information on Killzone: Mercenary see the offical website.