Review by blueninja4444

Reviewed: 03/24/08

A Portable Action Game With Co-Op That'll Have You Begging For More Helghast to Slaughter

Those darn Helghast are at it again!! This is Killzone on the PSP, and if that name sounds familiar to you, it should, because Killzone was the game that showed up on the PS2 a few years back and kicked butt and took names in the FPS department back then. Now with another console Killzone in the works, Guerrilla Games has released Killzone: Liberation, a PSP exclusive that steers away from some of the mechanics of the first Killzone (including a new top-down perspective), but also combines some elements of classic Contra-like shooters with new age next-gen shooters, all in the palms of your hand. With the new ad-hoc competitive and a co-op campaign mode and you just may have the ingredients for a natural winner here. Let’s take a look....

Graphics: 9/10
Well it’s not a first person shooter anymore, but that’s a good thing. The new camera angle isn’t great, but it does have that sort of old school feel to it with an over-the-top view. At first glance you might think “this is kind of lame looking, why is the camera so far away?” but the graphics grow on you and you can see some impressive character models, vehicle models, weapon blasts, and even the ever-so-impressive Killzone rag doll physics. If you kill an enemy with the missile launcher or grenades, you will agree that the enemy flying off and landing in a painful predicament was well worth the effort of the kill, and quite humorous too.

The cut scenes use in-game graphics to save space, and there are very few FMVs in this game, but when you do see a FMV it is quite impressive. Other small, yet impressive details include the realism of explosions, the smoking from vehicles as they take damage, and the beautiful water graphics. But I must deduct some points since the camera is so far away, it makes noticing small details that much harder.

Sound: 10/10
Killzone: Liberation will spoil you with sound. If you like dramatic background music, and voice acting you’ll love this! All of the dialogue in this game is spoken out loud, no reading small texts for you. The behind the scenes talent all seem like they know what they’re doing, especially Rico, who puts a lot of effort into sounding like an anti-Helghast tough guy, shouting his curse words as he unloads bullet after bullet into the enemy.

Other sound effects are impressive too, from the air planes, to the gun fire, to the explosions, they didn’t skimp out on any sound effect. And as mentioned, the BGM is quite inspiring, makes ya feel like your really on a mission to stop the Helghast invasion. No complaints here, every thing was done so beautifully.

Controls: 9/10
PSP, do your thing! Ok, what can be said here, other than everything has been mapped out quite well. The default controls work quite well, which is nice because I don’t think you can customize them, but I never tried. Square shoots, which is a little odd because you may be used to the R button shooting, but in this game R is your cover button, allowing you to duck behind objects and the such. And in an odd twist when you are taking vehicles like the army tank out for a joy ride, the L and R shoulder buttons aim instead of your stick, which I found weird. But rest assured everything is easy to pull off in this game, though you may wish there was a camera control when it’s all said and done.

Story: 8/10
For those unfamiliar with the Killzone saga, those cool looking guys you see all over the box arts and screen shots are Helghast. Helghast are aliens, just like humans, except they can’t breath the air of the planet they are coming for, your planet, which is why they do end up always being seen with those cool masks and outfits. The idea is simple, you (Captain Jan Templar) kill those guys, and save various political figures, as well as your friends, from the hands of the evil Metrac who seems to be a combination of your race and the Helghast.

The story never gets emotional and it never gets deep. Killzone: Liberation is focused on action, action, action and the cut scenes are usually less than a half a minute, usually only there to explain to you who you are rescuing or why you are going about this mission. To add spice to the story, the game occasionally allows you to team up with NPCs such as your ally Rico, to add emphasis on just how “impossible” your missions are. The story isn’t special but it’s nothing cheesy either.

Gameplay: 10/10
Well, someone’s gotta kill the Helghast and if it’s gonna be you, you might as well know about the gameplay. First off, there are many different options here from single player campaign mode, to single player mini-games, to ad-hoc death matches to a complete co-op teaming up to beat the campaign mode.

For the core, we have the campaign mode which is highly fun and highly addicting. It isn’t a run and gun and it isn’t a particularly fast-paced game. The gameplay does require a sense of strategy, since there are multiple weapons and grenades in this game, and occasionally multiple paths to the same destination. Some enemies can be tougher than the next, so it all leads to different strategies.

The game was also nice enough to include some things you’d only expect to find on next-gen systems of the sort such as the ability to commandeer huge battle tanks or sail through the swamps on a hover craft. Also of note, is the presence of those stereotypical mounted machine guns that never run out of bullets but deal massive amounts of damage.

An interesting aspect of Killzone is that some NPCs, as mentioned earlier, jump in just to help you out with the gameplay, just as if your buddy had joined you co-op. Having a CPU controlled ally is one of the more fun parts of the game, and just because your buddy really does join you co-op doesn’t mean the NPC won’t help out for specific missions, basically you’ll have 3 people on your team now, which is neat because most games like this will just leave the NPC out since you already have help from your co-op buddy. In addition to that, you can use the d-pad to issue orders to your NPC buddy, such as taking out specific enemies, blowing up certain obstacles, or pressing certain buttons that are difficult to reach.

Killzone never gets truly stale either. Each missions presents new enemies with new weapons (wait until you see the surprise on your face when the enemy with the missile launcher blows you up for the first time - Priceless!), and the missions aren’t always based on killing the enemies, some of them are basic escort missions where you must keep a defenseless NPC alive and escort him/her to safety, and “survive the assault” type of levels, and missions designed to be completed with vehicles. I will repeat myself, Killzone: Liberation never gets stale.

Longevity and Replay Value: 10/10
Killzone: Liberation is chalked full of things to keep you busy, weather it’s playing at home on your power adaptor, or playing together with your friend during lunch break with ad-hoc. The game features a mission select so you can go back and replay any mission you thought was particularly fun, or a mission you think you may have missed a lot of the “hidden” dollars you need to upgrade your weapons.

Speaking of weapons, the game has many weapons and grenades to keep you on your toes. Your character can only hold one weapon and one grenade at a time so you really have to think through what you wanna bring with you. The game is filled with item boxes that allow you to change you weapon, but be careful, you don’t want to get caught in an ambush with only your revolver and smoke grenades, and you definitely don’t want to go against a giant mecha without an RPG missile launcher. And since the game is futuristic the game does include several fictional weapons such as a Helghast Chain Gun that never runs out of ammo, and a jet pack that can allow you to hover over death traps and also has a built in machine gun that never runs out of ammo.

To further add to the replayability the game included an exciting co-op option which allows any friend of your with a copy of this game to play through the main campaign mode with you in a complete co-op experience. Unlike in the main campaign mode where death means death, having an ally help you out means that he can carry life syringes on him, so if you die he can actually save you with the syringe (within 20 seconds) and it isn’t an automatic game over (and the same could be done if he dies, by you). Your buddy plays as a nameless soldier with a mask on, and he has no part in the story or cut scenes at all, but the co-op experience adds to the replayability, greatly.

Even if co-op isn’t your thing, you can face off in death matches (via Wifi also) and have all sorts of killing fun from capture the flag to team death match. But that doesn’t take away from the single player experience because the game does include the aforementioned single player mini-games, which, if completed, usually allow you to upgrade certain aspects of your character like how many maximum grenades he can carry or how much damage his melee attack does.

Needless to say, in between the unique gameplay, the co-op experience and the different gameplay modes, Killzone: Liberation will be a game that you’ll have hours and hours of fun with and won’t be selling any time soon.

Overall: 9
All in all, Killzone: Liberation is not a perfect game, but it’s a flat out fun game, and it’s all in the palm of your hands. While you may have mixed feeling about the old Killzone, rest assured this is nothing like that, and is, in fact, a better game. So weather you want to have some portable fun killing Helghast or you are looking for the ultimate portable co-op game (there aren’t that many great portable co-op games, let’s face it) look no further than Killzone: Liberation...... A near perfect 9 out of 10!

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Killzone: Liberation (US, 10/31/06)

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