Killzone 3

Killing people on alien planets has never felt so... actually you've probably done this before.
boyward - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

Killzone 3 is rated Mature for "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language." Players use guns to shoot mutant human beings. Brutal melees show the player's knife stabbing enemy soldiers through the eyes and throat. Cutscenes show some bloodier fighting. About a dozen uses of the name of Jesus Christ as a curse, and about a dozen F-words. Regular use of other milder profanities.

In this first-person PS3 shooter, the last remnants of Earth’s army are stranded on the alien planet, Helghan. The human soldiers are losing this war to the Helghast, mutant humans whose ancestors came from Earth to this harsh planet years ago and were forced to adapt to survive. It’s easy to identify the Helghast– they’re the ones swarming all over you using respirators and looking at you through glowing red eyes. They’re also the ones preparing a horrific new weapon for delivery to Earth.

As far as sci-fi shooters go, Killzone 3 is fairly standard fare. You get an equal share of both human and alien weaponry. There are also some turret and mech walker missions. The campaign occasionally lets you use a jet pack, and there is 3D and PlayStation Move compatibility. I did not complete Killzone 2 (the language was revolting) but compared to the gray urban environments I remember from that game, Killzone 3 is a much more colorful experience. The game is a showcase for what the PlayStation 3 can do, and players are taken on a world tour of the planet Helghan: into alien jungles, through nuclear wastelands, across the oceans, and over the arctic. My favorite location was a space station where the gravity controls were turned off. Ever thrown a grenade in a zero-gravity environment? It won’t fall. There’s a good variety of enemy types too, which forces players to think strategically on the battlefield.

On the human side of the story things are fairly generic, with lots of explosions and vehicles flipping over, and gung ho soldiers hoo-rahing one another on. I could tell that Guerilla Games wanted to end this trilogy with an emotional punch, but there’s a glitch that kept the lips out of sync with the dialogue and it really spoiled the moment. But even with the glitch, when the game shifts to the Helghan boardroom things get really interesting because of the clear animosity between two of the leaders. Arms manufacturer Stahl and Admiral Orlock were at each other’s throats the whole game, bringing to mind Jesus’ teaching that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. And the Helghast do eventually pay the price for failing to recognize that truth.

Killzone 3 is ESRB rated “Mature” for “Blood and Gore”, “Intense Violence”, and “Strong Language”. After fans cried “foul” over Killzone 2’s ridiculous amount of foul language, developer Guerilla promised to tone down the profanity for the trilogy’s conclusion. True to their promise, the profanity has been cut down considerably, but Killzone 3 still deserves a solid M-rating.

Shooting the Helghast apparently opens up holes in their armor because we see a pretty decent spray of red blood every time a bullet makes impact. Human and Helghast soldiers scream and moan in pain. Blood pools on the ground. At very close range we can execute Brutal Melee attacks, such as stabbing Helghast through the eye(s), cutting their throats, stabbing them in the neck, etc. Headshots make a nasty popping sound. You cannot shoot off limbs or heads. No dismemberment. Late in the campaign, however, we are introduced to an energy weapon that can disintegrate several bodies at once. In cutscenes we see several human soldiers being executed at close range by handguns. We also learn that the Helghast have developed a new chemical that can cause a body to explode. Infighting amongst the Helghast brass leads to some nasty helmets-off combat including stabbing and one man being blown to pieces by an energy gun. These last sequences could be felt more deeply than the standard firefights because we have come to know these characters as people.

Killzone 3 director Mathijs de Jonge has gone on the record saying, “In total, I think there’s seven ‘f*** you’s and one ‘motherf***er’. I think that’s fine. In Killzone 2 we ended up with too much of it. The thing about swearing is that it’s highly effective when it’s done right, and in Killzone 3 I think there’s some swearing but if feels a lot more impactful. It’s at the right times.” Over the course of the 5-6 hour campaign the name of Jesus Christ and the f-word are actually used about 12-15 times apiece, and true to Guerilla’s goal, only in intense situations where the world would consider profanity “appropriate”. The s-word and lesser profanities are also used regularly. Expect to hear cursing every time you sit down to play even for a short gaming session.

Other Negative Elements
One human soldier, Rico, obeys his superior officers maybe once in the entire game. The rest of the time he is insubordinate and acts on impulse, doing whatever seems right to him at the time.

Positive Elements
The Earth soldiers put themselves in harm’s way again and again for one another, both in cutscenes and in real time. You can seek out the wounded and heal them, and they’ll do the same for you. And that superior officer that Rico disrespected? Let’s just say that Rico is ready to lay down his life to save that man. The guy is driven by his heart– if it’s the right thing to do, he’ll do it no matter the cost to himself.

Killzone 3 is a very good first-person shooter with a gorgeous coat of paint that ultimately looks better than it plays. Not that the gameplay is bad. Actually, it’s solid game, and the campaign has a few fun surprises involving jet packs and zero-grav environments, but other than the graphics and sound it doesn’t really do anything great that hasn’t already been done in other shooters. Playing Killzone 3, I felt like, “This is just like every other sci-fi shooter.” Plus the storytelling gets in the way. There are too many cutscenes breaking up the action and Guerilla Games focuses too much on the boring Earth soldiers when the really interesting characters are duking it out in the Helghast boardroom. If you have concerns about content, my suggestion would be to skip Killzone 3. It’s a very good shooter, but you’re not missing out on anything of real significance by passing Killzone by.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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