Killzone was the game that many used as a benchmark for what the PS3 was capable of rendering. Developer Guerilla Games Cambridge wants to make that same statement for Sony’s handheld – they want to be the benchmark for the Vita. Taking an entirely new approach to the series, in Killzone Mercenary you are no longer fighting for either side – your loyalty is to the highest bidder. You play Arran Danner, an ex-Army soldier from the Colonial Army of Earth, but after leaving the service you were picked up by “Phantom Talent Corp” – a PMC focused on fighting both sides of the war to ensure they meet their one and only objective – a healthy profit. We got hands-on with the multiplayer and single-player aspects of this ambitious title for several hours. It’s time to take a deep dive into Killzone Mercenary.
Being a mercenary, your slogan is simple – “War is our business”. Your loyalty is to the job. You don’t care who is right or wrong, you don’t give a shit about medals, and you don’t ask questions, except “How much does it pay?” To that end, clients will hire you, give you objectives, and pay you as long as you get results. This means that, for the first time, you’ll be fighting for the ISA as well as the Helghast. The 6 to 8 hour single-player campaign will be woven in between the events of Killzone, Killzone Liberation, Killzone 2 and leading up to Killzone 3. This means the “Liberation of Vekta” mission and the Spearhead of the invasion of Helghan (“Operation Archangel” at the start of Killzone 2) will fill in some back story that serves to enrich the Killzone universe. As the game progresses, you’ll be asked to evacuate an ambassador and will find yourself embroiled in a fight for the Ambassador’s young son. Somehow his fate will change the course of the war, so both sides want him. Your loyalty to the almighty payout will be challenged.
Using the Vita’s touchscreens in a way that doesn’t feel like a gimmick was a major focus for the team. To that end, they have ensured that the touch screen controls are only used when it makes the most sense, not saddled onto every aspect of the game. This means you’ll use the rear touch portions to zoom your sniper rifle, you’ll use directional swipes for the “Brutal Melee” attacks, you’ll pull levers and various other controls, and you’ll activate several of the Van-Guard weapons in the same way.
After every single player mission (and I can only assume the multiplayer ones as well), you’ll submit an “Invoice” for your PMC activities. It shows your Engagement Total (total credits earned), any bonuses you got for Valour Cards, medals you’ve earned, and any purchases deducted to result in your total billable activity. It sticks with the Mercenary fiction laid out in the game and gives some replay value as you can always try to do it cheaper, faster, and better.
Killzone Mercenary is slated to hit shelves on the 17th of September, 2013. From what I’ve seen it will meet it’s ambitious objective – Killzone Mercenary is a benchmark title set to raise the bar for shooters on any handheld device forever.