Killzone: Mercenary Beta Impressions


Hand­helds and First Per­son Shoot­ers nor­mally don’t go hand in hand. Nin­tendo tried it with Metroid Prime: Hunters and while it worked for a while, using the touch screen as a sec­ond con­trol method hurt your and hand and felt unnat­ural. The PSP had a shot at some FPS’s as well using the ana­log nub for move­ment and the four face but­tons for the cam­era, sort of the same setup the N64 used due to the lack of a sec­ond ana­log stick. With this new wave of hand­helds, Sony opted to have two ana­log sticks on the Vita’s face to mimic the con­trols on the home con­soles. This deci­sion would lead to games feel­ing like the ones we have at home with the porta­bil­ity and instant access that come with a hand­held. There have been two FPS’s on the Vita since its launch and nei­ther have fared rather well, Resis­tance and Call of Duty were both met with neg­a­tive reviews and sales. Kil­l­zone is going to try and revive the genre on the hand­held and if the cur­rent beta is any indi­ca­tion, it will wipe your palate clean and leave a great, fresh straw­berry taste in your mouth. The beta was in closed for­mat a few weeks ago, and as of last Tues­day was open to PlaySta­tion Plus sub­scribers, it will be avail­able for all today after the PlaySta­tion Store updates. Kil­l­zone: Mer­ce­nary is by and far the best look­ing hand­held title thus far. The image above is not a man­u­fac­tured press release screen, that is one I took with my Vita dur­ing a match I played right before writ­ing this. The game is show­ing off the horse­power under­neath the Vita’s glossy exte­rior. Enough about the visu­als though, the big ques­tion in the room is, does it con­trol well? Why yes, yes it does. Hav­ing that sec­ond ana­log stick makes the world of dif­fer­ence. I feel like I am play­ing its big­ger broth­ers and despite miss­ing two shoul­der but­tons that are nor­mally found on a DS3, the Vita con­trol scheme does a great job cop­ing. As you can see from the screen there have been a few things mapped to the touch screen for easy access. Chang­ing a weapon or to a grenade is a sim­ple touch away while the L and R shoul­der but­tons are for down site aim­ing and fir­ing your weapon. There are a few con­trols even mapped to the touch pad on the rear of the hand­held. Things like zoom­ing with a sniper are just a pinch ges­ture, while run­ning is two sim­ple taps wile leav­ing your fin­ger on the pad after the sec­ond tap. Melee’s are ini­ti­ated with the Tri­an­gle but­ton and then you are to fol­low the touch screen prompts to fin­ish off your oppo­nent. The con­trols feel nat­ural and I never felt like I had to scram­ble and look for a but­ton dur­ing a fire fight. There is one game mode to play on the Beta and that is War­zone (five rounds of con­stant chang­ing objec­tives) and while I enjoy the objec­tive based modes, the games I get into seem to go 20 min­utes or longer in length. While they are good times, this is also a portable title. I can see play­ing a longer game mode while you are at the air­port, home, or even on a long bus ride (con­sid­er­ing you have a 3G Vita), but those who want a pick up a go there will be team death­match and free for all when the title launches; and the game times should be for the pick up and go player. The PlaySta­tion store had update while I was writ­ing this and the pub­lic beta is avail­able for all Vita users to down­load and enjoy. Give the game a try and see what a con­sole like FPS feels like on a hand­held that can han­dle it.

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