The lights are on
I have had many portable systems in my days. Game Gear, Game Boy (Classic, Color, Advance) PSP, PSPgo, and now the PSVita. I have always known that mobile games wouldn't ever be on par with console games...or would they?
Killzone Mercenary I think put Vita on the map and showed what it can really do. To be honest, this is still probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the Vita could really do. It takes time for developers to start squeezing the real juice out of any new system.
Now, onto the review.
Killzone Mercenary is a First Person Shooter built from the ground up for the PSVita, but the story weaves in and out of the 3 existing Killzone Titles. Starting out on Vecta when the Helghast first invade Vecta, then the story continues to Helghan for the Vectan counter attack. When I say the story weaves in and out I mean it. Some of the intel you pick up has to do with many or the events you experience in the first 3 games. It gives an interesting view to how the war carried out.
For those who like the first 3 Killzone games, I say confidently that you will also like, nay I dare say love, Killzone Mercenary. The same visceral and high tempo gameplay exists while also having some fun things added to the gameplay.
The above scene is the opening scene from the 8th mission, the dropship you were in was shot down and crashed on a secret biological weapon manufacturing ship. I am not going to say much about why you were there as to not spoil the story for you, but this level is awesome, the moment you are up, you have to run to a crisscross of maintenance pathways for the landing pad to take cover from the barrage of bullets coming from the ISA. (For those thinking in your head, are you a helghast? No, you are a Vectan contractor, but in the game you fight for both side at different points in the game.)
In this image you can see an up close of a melee attack. You can see that the textures and models have not been skimped on. The textures are detailed, the movement is fluid, the sound is great. Guerilla Cambridge thought of pretty much everything while developing this game and they took their time, you can tell. There isn't just the plain old melee, if you come up to and sneak up on an officer, you can interrogate the officer. This gets you some special intel as to what is going on in other parts of the war, and how your actions even affect some of those other places.
Before each mission, you get a pretty detailed brief as to what your mission is about and what your objectives are. They use lots of wireframe type models you got used to seeing in KZ3 and it really helps you to visualize what you will be doing before you get there.
As you can see here, there are a lot of cool features in your heads up display, and you get the calls to action in the middle of your screen that you can either use the triangle button for or touch the screen. They integrate the rear touch pad in to the game as well as well and the sixaxis controls too. You can also see that the familiar weapons are still used.
They have used an interesting black market style purchasing system for your weapons and gear to outfit your merc for each mission or change your loadout in the middle of the mission, but only when you come up on the the black market containers.
Now, they have 9 missions in the game. Don't get disappointed by this. These missions are fun, not to short and take some skill to get through on normal. You get different pay for the different difficulties, and you have different versions of each mission as well that give you different objective you give the mission a twist. This gives the game plenty of replay value in my opinion.
Really, all in all, I think they did a fantastic job with this game, and for someone who was waiting for a really good title to buy the Vita, I think this is it. By this game along with AC3, Unit 13, Need For Speed and Little Big Planet, you will have almost every genre covered and weeks of entertaining gameplay (If you play constantly, if not then easily months). The Vita I think is a great system, I just want to see more developers realize that this is a worth while system with some real balls behind that beautiful screen.
The only downfall I saw was in the above screenshot, sometimes the bullets flying by seemed a little weird, I mean whats up with the huge trail of what looks like fire. It could be a tracer, but it still looks a little chincy to me.
Now Get it and Play It!
Dan, I liked that you said "balls" in your review haha. You made me want to play it, so nice work there. I still get an error if I click any link to your review other than the one you posted on your wall. I am glad you got this up though. I am impressed with the quality of a first time review. Keep at it.