Sony’s little powerhouse portable has had some gaps in its library since launching last year. While it is well catered with some amazing RPG’s, sports, platform and compilations, there are some genre’s that are under-represented on the most advanced portable gaming console ever.
But when it comes to shooters, a category that the PS Vita’s twin stick design was born to dominate, the dearth of quality shooters is alarming. While some of the biggest franchises have given it a crack, including Call of Duty and Resistance. None have really been able to truly master the capabilities of the Vita and most are downright terrible.
And so steps up Guerrilla Games, and the biggest exclusive shooter available on PlayStation, Killzone. Killzone, Sony’s most treasured shooting series, their answer to Microsoft’s Halo juggernaut, is perhaps the most important release to hit the Vita this year, maybe since launch.
With triple A pedigree and blockbuster aspirations, Killzone has always been cutting edge; but taking such a massive series and contracting it onto a portable system has always meant sacrifices, but Killzone Mercenary looks to buck that trend with a game that not only mirrors the capabilities of PS3 gaming, but is able to actually add something to the series.
Running on the Killzone 3 engine, the brief one-level preview of Killzone Mercenary provides a entree to the full game due to release in early September. Removed from the main narrative of the console franchise, Mercenary sees gamers take the role of a, well, mercenary for hire by both the Helghast and the ISA.
This duality plays a large part on the setup of the game, with gamers running a thin moral line between the good and the evil sides of the Killzone universe. But with every kill, almost every action earning credits that allow gamers to upgrade weapons, armour and more, Killzone encourages the line to be crossed and morality to be questioned in the name of progress.
With nine levels making up the single player component, the game could seem a little small on the surface. But if the first level is reflective of the rest of the game, then rest assured that the game will provide more than enough action for even the most diehard shooter fan.
During the demo, players are dropped into a Helghast base and tasked with taking down an air battery to allow ISA troops to advance. From the very first moment you step out onto the battlefield, how you go about the task at hand it up to you; snipe from a distance or full-frontal assault, no two playthroughs will be the same.
Indeed replaying the mission, which is encouraging, can almost feel like playing a completely different level. And with intel and secrets to be unlocked at almost every turn, Mercenary is a game that is set to just keep on giving.
What makes Killzone Mercenary stand heads and shoulders above the shooters that come before it is the sheer scope of the title. There are none of the graphical problems that plagued COD Declassified or the hidden, linear walls that restricted Resistance Retribution, Mercenary feels like a game that is truly optimized for a perfect portable experience.
Add to this the potential inherent within the 4 x 4 multiplayer mode (which was unavailable in the demo) and a single-player mode that promises both insane replayablity and epic set pieces and Killzone Mercenary looks to finally fill that AAA+ gap in the shooter genre that the Vita sorely needs.
The game pumps along with barely any slowdown even during intense firefights and even uses the touch screen in a logical way (something that can’t be said about previous shooters). Melee is initialized through a button touch but confirmed through touch; switching weapons is a breeze and easier than ever before; while minigames use just the right amount of touch capabilities to not outstay their welcome.
If the rest of the game can match the tension and tight controls of the first level, then Mercenary is going to be something special Any Vita owner who knows their games will be foolish to miss out this cracker-jack title and it just might be the spark that ignites the Vita to truly become a must-have gaming system.