E3 2013: Killzone Mercenary Impressions

Off in an unassuming corner near the press check-in area of Sony’s E3 booth, there are about 8 Vitas with playable versions of Killzone Mercenary. It seems to always be the case that at least one station is open, so after passing by a few times, I decided to just hop on and have a look. I’ve been disappointed by shooters like Unit 13 and Resistance: Retribution, but Killzone Mercenary is being developed by Guerrilla Games, the same team that’s worked on the PlayStation 2 and 3 versions of the Killzone franchise.

There was an opening cinematic, but I didn’t pay much attention. With time at a premium on the show floor, I wanted to get into the action as fast as I could. First of all, Killzone Mercenary looks fantastic. It’s running on the same engine as Killzone 3, and it simply feels like a joy to play. Aim down sights with L, shoot with R. Taking cover and firing out of cover is handled in the exact same way you are used to. Melee is handled by pressing triangle when close to initiate a melee attack, then swiping in the indicted direction on the touchscreen. The game slows down while you do this, and it doesn’t feel gimmicky. In fact, no use of the touch screen or rear touch pad feels bad. Double tap and hold on the rear touch pad to sprint. It’s not a gesture you’ll ever do accidentally, and it allows you to run while still using both analog sticks and triggers. I feel like finally, someone has figured out a good use of the rear touch pad.

The Vita didn’t get in my way as I got in a firefight with Helghan troops. It felt awesome to play, and Killzone Mercenary has jumped very high on the list of games I want to play. It’ll feature 8 player multiplayer and a full campaign, and will be released on September 4th.

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