Vita owners rejoice! You may finally have the first-person shooter (FPS) you deserve. After the lackluster Resistance: Burning Skies and the embarrassing Call of Duty: Declassified, Killzone: Mercenary may very well be the FPS vita owners have been hoping for. After spending some time with the campaign and multiplayer at Sony’s booth at E3, I am very impressed. I don’t know which question is more pertinent: how the folks at Guerilla Cambridge were able to nearly mirror the Killzone experience from the PS3 on the Vita; or how Nihilistic Software and nStigate Games failed in their respective attempts with bringing a solid FPS to the Vita. Regardless, Killzone Mercenary is definitely on the right track.
First, the visuals. The game looks genuinely amazing. Glancing at the screen, you would think that the Vita was simply running Killzone 3 on remote play. The guns, environments, and enemies look and feel very similar to Killzone on the PS3 (not counting the difference in available inputs). The level of detail in Mercenary is like nothing you’ve seen on the PS Vita. The detailed textures, lighting effects, and level design exude the spirit of Killzone. In addition, player movement and combat have that same, weighty feel to it. Enemies are aggressive – similar to Killzone on PS3 – flanking and charging as necessary, but doing so in a manner that exhibits some semblance of decent AI. Melee strikes are just as visceral as they are on the console, initiated by on-screen touch inputs. The Vita’s lack of an R3 or L3 input has made it impossible to for gamers to sprint as they would on the PS3 or Xbox 360. However, sprint has been mapped as a quick tap of circle instead of a double tap of the rear touchscreen, which is a much more elegant solution, even though the button is shared with crouch (long press of circle). However, not once did I sprint when I meant to crouch – and vice versa – which is testament to its utility. In addition, a double tap of circle will initiate a slide, allowing you to slide into cover when you’re overwhelmed.
However, more impressive was its 4V4 multiplayer; again, the game looks fantastic and during the few matches I had the privy of joining, not once did the game experience slowdown. The playable map during the multiplayer demo had plenty of character and detail, with crumbling structures and broken concrete providing cover for the burly Helgast and ISA competing in the match. In addition, the gameplay is solid, with hit-detection spot-on, player movement improved, and various “perks” that can affect the tide of battle. One particular perk – very similar to the AC-10 in Call of Duty – allows player to “atomize” opposing team members by raining artillery from a flying drone. This is not only a solid FPS on the Vita; more specifically, it’s a solid Killzone FPS on the Vita that looks and feels like its console cousin. So, far Guerilla Cambridge has me floored with their showing of Killzone: Mercenary at E3, and I am very excited and optimistic about the title. Look out for Killzone Mercenary this September.