August 27, 2013

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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