Killzone: Liberation Review

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Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Guerilla

Platform: PSP
Reviewed on PSP

Killzone was hardly the whole story behind the Helghast invasion. In the events described by Killzone, Captain Jan Templar and his comrades in the Special Forces defended Vekta City from an assault by militant and revolutionary Helghast, eager to gain a foothold on a world less hostile and unpleasant than their own. Two months later, now that the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance is prepared to defend its colony, Templar has been pressed into duty freeing southern Vekta from Helghast control. To that end, Templar and the ISA Special Forces will face legions of Helghast soldiers under the command of General Metrac and his fierce lieutenant Cobar, known as the "White Death" by his own troops.

Kyle Ackerman

Humanity has scattered to the stars, and the Helghast got the short end of a very unpleasant stick. The world Helghan was as rich in energy and resources as it was in toxins, making the Helghast a hardy (if unpleasant looking) people. Until recently, Helghast was ruled by a select few, culling the planet's wealth for their own ends and keeping the general populace in abject poverty and ill health. Then the revolution came. Autarch Scolar Visari turned Helghan's vast resources to the wheel of a military machine and prepared the Helghast to seize more verdant worlds as their own.

The Helghast attack against the ISA colony Vekta was a surprise, and the events of Killzone for the PlayStation 2 depict the efforts of ISA Special Forces to repel that invasion. Killzone: Liberation picks up two months later, taking the same characters from Killzone into southern Vekta to repel the brutal Helghast occupation led by General Metrac. Where Killzone presented an entertaining (but unexceptional) first-person shooter, Killzone: Liberation is a must-play for the PSP that shoves players onto the front lines of a spectacular, futuristic war.

Shell Casings Galore

In fact, Killzone: Liberation offers just about all the shooting action you could possibly want, from a long and robust single player campaign to mini-games to multiplayer play, but from the isometric (overhead and to the side) third-person perspective common to many action/role-playing games. Killzone: Liberation creates a wonderful interface that makes it easy to take cover, move and aim from that perspective in a way that makes battle exciting rather than painful. It even handles a jet pack well.

That's not to say that Killzone: Liberation is easy. The game operates on a checkpoint system that will (upon occasion) have players grinding their teeth in frustration, replaying the same sequence over and over to make the slightest progress. But aside from a few "gotcha" moments in which heavily armed Helghast soldiers pop out from inconvenient doorways, the game is fair in its difficulty. Challenges are to be discovered, studied and surmounted, rather than suffered.

Templar's Squad Faces Fearsome Foes

The single-player campaign features cleverly designed, if linear, missions. As in most games, the play comes down to shooting everything you see and avoiding a few traps, but does so with style. The levels are three dimensional, offer plenty of chances to take advantage of cover and are both cleverly and intuitively designed. Levels tend to be large, and pose a challenge to even the most experienced of players. Some levels require players to traverse a given level twice, but the campaign is long, especially given the number of times players are likely to die and have to replay checkpoints.

The campaign is divided into chapters, each of which boasts several missions. Missions range from simply reaching a given destination, to escort-and-defend missions. But what makes the game particularly interesting is that Templar is often given allies in battle (familiar from the original Killzone). These allies obey an intuitive and powerful command system that allows players to pursue more complex strategies than simple run-and-gun play.

Mini-Games and Multiplayer, Oh My!

The single-player campaign is hardly all there is to do in Killzone: Liberation, although even the single-player missions have replay value due to the need to collect Vektan (currency) to unlock better weapons for the campaign missions. There are also challenge games, involving tasks such as target practice or defending a location, in which players can earn medals. This, too, has its benefits, as medals help unlock better traits for multiplayer play. And that leads to some of Killzone: Liberation's best facets.

The game supports multiplayer matches, and not just competitive deathmatch-style play. Killzone: Liberation allows players to join their friends and play cooperatively through the game. That, alone, makes this game a worthwhile purchase not only for yourself, but for your PSP-owning friends. There's also exceptional competitive play. In both cases, however, expect to bring friends along if you want anyone to play with.

The screenshots may not look exceptional, but the visuals are impressive in motion, providing a vivid (grim and war-torn) world accompanied by an impressive sound design. If you are looking for an excellent PSP game that isn't an adaptation of a previously released title, Killzone: Liberation is a brilliant option.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on December 15, 2006 6:58 PM.

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