Developer: Guerrilla Games
Release Date: October 31, 2006
Roughly two years have passed since Killzone, the once-touted Halo killer first appeared on the PlayStation 2. The sequel, Killzone Liberation, is set to launch soon, and although the plot follows in the footsteps of its console predecessor, many other aspects have changed.
Liberation's plot takes place two months after the conclusion of Killzone. The Helghast are trying to capture and control small islands in Southern Vekta, and a new Helghast leader, General Metrac, has ordered the capture of ISA VIPs to aid in negotiations for the withdrawal of ISA forces from the region. The player takes on the role of the returning hero Templar, a hardened military veteran, with orders to assist the ISA troops and to locate and free the hostages from behind enemy lines.
The most notable change in Killzone Liberation is the replacement of the classic first-person shooter camera angle with a new third-person perspective, similar to that found in Metal Gear Solid. During gameplay, the camera is set high above Templar and feels kind of like there's a helicopter following him and filming his battles. Upon completing a mission, the camera seamlessly zooms in to a third-person perspective for an in-game cinema sequence.
The new viewpoint adds vast amounts of gameplay value to Killzone Liberation. Battlefields are set up to be more of a tactical experience that involves subtle strategy and preparation. Because the view of the battlefield is so vast, the player is able to make a plan of attack even before an enemy is within shooting distance. Strategy is also used in certain missions, where the player takes control of ISA troops by use of a command menu. The command menu can be used to order the soldier to take a certain position, attack certain targets, or to just escort Templar.
Gameplay is centered on a campaign mode that is divided into chapters and missions. Upon starting a new campaign, Templar is armed solely with a basic machinegun. New weapons like the automatic shotgun, sniper rifle, and weapon upgrades are acquired by collecting Vektan dollars, which can be found in crates throughout each mission. Another way to expand your arsenal is to find supply crates that can contain ammunition, weapons, health packs, syringes, C4, or smoke or frag grenades. Health packs are used to refill Templar's health, syringes are used to refill the health of the ISA militants, and C4 is used to blow up marked objects, enabling Templar to explore new areas. Grenades … well, you know what grenades do. Mission objectives range from search and rescue, to the total annihilation of Helghast scum.
Controlling Templar is pretty simple and quickly mastered after a few minutes in tutorial mode. The analog stick is used to maneuver Templar around the battlefield while the four face buttons are used to activate objects, fire, reload, and throw grenades. The right shoulder button is used for crouching, which facilitates shooting accuracy but also makes Templar an easy target for enemy gunfire. The left shoulder button is used to lock Templar's view toward a certain target and for strafing, abilities which are great for hitting moving targets and avoiding enemy fire. The directional pad is used to activate and navigate the command menu for use with A.I. counterparts.
The graphics and sound in Killzone Liberation are next-to-none when it comes to environment, character design, and the realism of gunfire and grenade explosions. The only downfall to the amount of realism dumped into the game's graphics is the abundant use of natural colors like browns, grays, and greens. This does give the impression of fighting in a barren, war-ravaged land, but it can also be a bit confusing when you're trying to find weapon clips on the ground or discerning paths to reach your next objective.
Probably the most exciting feature available in the title will be the massive multiplayer options and game modes. Both ad-hoc and infrastructure modes are to be available, but infrastructure is a downloaded feature and won't be supported directly out of the box. Different multiplayer modes will include a co-op campaign and combat zone, which is a one- to six-player match on specific multiplayer maps.
If the finalized game design is anything like the preview disc I have been playing, then Killzone Liberation will deal a great blow to competitor companies, as I foresee this being listed on many people's Christmas lists and selling loads of copies. The title will offer tons of unlockable content, such as new weapons, abilities, and game modes; with the online support it's supposed to offer, Liberation is looking to be a must-play game that most will enjoy. I, for one, am waiting for the day when I get to put my hands on a retail copy of what could easily be the year's best handheld game.
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