Monday, September 15, 2014

Killzone: Liberation (PlayStation Portable) Review

Killzone: Liberation is a bland, joyless affair. Nothing in this game hints that anyone involved in its development ever had fun, or ever considered what they were doing to be fun. It is bleak, serious and gray as though it has some grave point it's trying to make. It doesn't. You could mistake this game for being in black and white.

I've never played any of the full-fledged Killzone games, but this doesn't make a good intro to the series. I'm assuming it starts after the events of the first game, and leads into the second. I can't really speak to its impact on or placement in the overall story, but what's here is incredibly lame. It seems as if the developer was told to make a sci-fi game, and they said "okay." From some good old Wiki research, I determined that the enemies in this game are just humans who moved off of the home planet and are now coming to take it back. Or something. It doesn't matter. There's some obvious plot twists, betrayal.. whatever. Everything about this game can be punctuated with "whatever" or "or something." 

The game plays out from an isometric perspective, in contrast to the FPS stylings of the full-fledged titles. It tries to kind of be a stealth game, I think. Or maybe it's trying to be a cover based shooter. I honestly don't know.

Okay, I lied. Gray and orange.

A huge issue with this game is the difficulty. You can have one gun at a time. You're never prepared for the situation you're about to get into with one gun. Your best bet is usually the standard assault rifle. It doesn't have a huge amount of stopping power, it fires in bursts and it sucks. The only way to get different weapons is to get them at resupply boxes spread around the map. You can get a shotgun, but it's only going to stop the guys close to you. It's obviously useless at long range. You can get a sniper rifle, but it's mostly just useless since you're entirely at the mercy of the game's auto aim. There's a few other weapons you can get, but they're all pretty much useless. Later in the game you can get a chaingun with unlimited ammo that only needs to cool down, which is a bit of a lifesaver.

So, you're dealing with your one gun. The next problem is that the enemies seem to have literally the exact same amount of health that you do. Now we come back to... is it a cover based shooter or a stealth game? There are areas where the game clearly wants you to be sneaky. It's pointless, though. You can sneak as much as you want but you don't have any kind of a stealth takedown. You can sneak up behind any enemy you want and melee them, but they'll just turn around like nothing happened and melee you. Which knocks you down and nearly kills you. What? These are humans too. Why the fuck are they so much stronger?

Okay, so let's approach it like a cover based shooter. This is about the only way to play it, and it is fucking boring. Enemies will cling to cover just like you do. You can grenade them, but you get two grenades. They are essential, too. You can get more grenades by playing challenge mini-games, but whoever would be enough of a sadist to go out of their way to do this probably has a few dead animals buried around their yard and will soon be moving on to humans. At times the cover based approach collapses, too. There's some areas where you're clearly supposed to be playing it guns blazing. You can't win here, though. Enemies literally have as much health as you. You can't stop three of them fast enough.

Oooh, red.

This game wants to be tactical. Occasionally you'll get a teammate who you can give some pretty inconsequential orders. You can tell them to attack something or take cover somewhere, but it's generally best to just let the AI do its thing. This comes to another problem with the game. When you're in that tactical menu, it doesn't pause. That's okay, we're not going to use that. Instead of pausing, the game goes into this super slow motion type of thing. It does this when you're opening the supply boxes too. This is where it gets to be an issue because it prevents you from switching weapons effectively. It's already hard to run back to the box to get a different gun, then the game slows down instead of pausing and through the translucent item selection menu you can see a bullet fly towards yourself in slow motion and kill you.

I mentioned the story earlier, but this game seems to have gone to the stores unfinished. Why? There's free DLC for the game which adds an extra chapter (set of four missions) and online multiplayer to the game. I used the DLC, and without it the game's plot would've just ended completely unresolved. It's not on PSN (I don't think it ever was, I think it downloaded from a browser link within the game), but you can get it from the developer's website and install it to your memory stick. Not only this, the game just doesn't fucking have music. It's dead silent while you're running around doing your thing, which only makes the game even more bleak and un-fun. 


I made it to the mission before the last and was just miserable with the game. I decided to try changing the difficulty level to see if that helped with the fun any... it didn't. Easy mode just halves the enemies' health. Nothing else changes. There's no extra ammo, there's not fewer enemies. It just takes "half" the hits to kill those enemies. It doesn't help.

Strangely, this game was pretty widely acclaimed when it released. I can't imagine having any more fun playing this game in 2006. Maybe it was just because the PSP didn't have many other games at the time? Killzone: Liberation is the worst kind of handheld game. It's a handheld game because someone felt there should be a handheld game. It's not an extension or modification of the other game's play-style. It's something else entirely with a brand name stuck on it.

The Score: 5/10

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