Real mercenaries do it for the money.
In these days of smartphones and tablets, it was always going to take something special to breathe life into the PS Vita, 2013 is doing just that with the upcoming PS4 Remote Play compatibility and right now with Guerrilla Games by offering this addition to the Killzone franchise.
From booting up to the closing credits this game reeks of console quality, once you get past physical control familiarisation and find a comfortable viewing position the game does its job well. It may not hold a long campaign, which rocks in around four to five hours and before the world bursts into flames, that’s not a bad thing.
Well there are a couple of reasons, the missions are structured well and may not be over long, but for a handheld I feel they are bang on length. If this is a game you want to play out and about or in short bursts, then they are just right, if you want to spend longer sessions playing a console shooter, then play a full console shooter.
Once the campaign is over the game also offers something extraordinary in the world of modern shooters – replayability. Opening up the levels as contracts, giving them categories such as Stealth or Demolition and setting some hard stop rules for success or failure. It offers tremendous opportunity to go back to the game and work those areas in very different approaches, something that older gamers will appreciate if they cut their teeth on Goldeneye or Perfect Dark.
As the Mercenary name suggests the game is all about money and being paid for destruction, anything you do in the game earns a few credits which will ultimately be spent on weapons, ammunition and Vanguards. These Vanguards are the special weapons that add some CoD like killstreaks to your arsenal, you can only carry one and they can be resupplied at weapons locker for a price, or are replenished by time.
There is no doubt the game has the Killzone stamp all over it, from the shape of the environments to the presentation of the enemies. It fits into the family very well and fans of the series will be right at home. Personally I struggled with the controls for the first half hour or so and that was due to the physical ranges of the Vita thumbsticks, once that was locked into my brain I was away, popping headshots left right and centre, often taking a moment to wonder how I was playing such a well balanced game on a screen in my hand.
The major let down at the moment and sadly one of the key selling points has been the failure for many users connecting to online play, however there are things to note. A lot of Vita users struggle (myself included) to change their NAT settings no matter what they try, this has an effect. Guerilla have also admitted they are working on some patches to improve the online aspect, they have also hinted at further developments, which will be interesting given the community has been clamouring for Bots to be added for those that can’t get online. For me as an individual the online segment has not been a major disaster, I can often get into empty lobbies and struggle to wait for players, but the meat of the campaign and what it offers satisfies me. Others will feel cheated if they have purchased the title purely for the competitive gaming.
There’s one thing I know for sure and that is I will never again attempt to play this kind of game on a tablet with virtual sticks ever again. The Vita has shown what it can do and I am secure in my decision to pick one up pre PS4, because together they are going to be a force to reckon with.