Review by BigReed

"Killzone: Mercenary is the best first person shooter on the Vita, but not without some issues"

The Good:
Beautiful visuals, online play, tight controls, customization with loadouts

The Bad:
Online portion of the game suffers from lag issues, story does little to push the series forward, lack of a focused antagonist

Killzone Mercenary is an interesting game. Guerilla Cambridge has seemingly worked hard to bring the best possible Killzone experience they could to the PlayStation Vita. In many ways, Mercenary is by far the best game in the series. The shooting, which honestly has no place being better than its console counterparts, overall is much more precise than it has been in past games. Aiming, and taking out enemies, is much easier in Mercenary than it ever was with the Dualshock 3 controller. But while the shooting aspect is precise, the rest of the controls are pretty much what would be expected out of a full console attempt on a handheld. From the touch controls, to the confusing running and grenade controls, Mercenary shows that while the Vita is capable of producing games that look great, they still have a far way to go to match the overall quality of console titles. Killzone: Mercenary is a fantastic effort from Guerilla Cambridge, but at the same time also points out the common flaws of the Vita.

An all too familiar story

If there was one thing that this generation has taught the industry, it's that if you have a good thing going, then keep doing it. If consumers are enjoying the content of either a new or old franchise or series, then publishers of course, should continue to deliver games as long as people are still willing to pay for them. This can create some static among the community, but if consumers keep voting with their money, then from a business standpoint, publishers must continue to enact policies that are working. So, how does a company continue to release games within a series? Well, one way is to do what Guerilla did with Mercenary. Rather than driving the series forward with a new story, and a fresh take on the gritty civil war within the Killzone series, Guerilla decided to sort of fill in the gaps. Mercenary's story is not bad by any means, it has just been told before across several other games. The player controls a mercenary throughout the game who finds himself making money off of a bloody conflict. Mercenary takes place across Killzone 2 and 3, which is one of the reasons why it fails to ever really grip the player. There is a very high chance that if you are interested in Mercenary, you have played the other games in the series. Overall, the story of Killzone Mercenary does little to make the game feel like a fresh entry into the series.

Another key thing the storytelling suffers from in Killzone Mercenary is the lack of a focused protagonist. Now, the game certainly has some protagonists, and this is partially where the problem lies. Through the other Killzone games, the Helghast are the bad guys. Everyone knows this. However, they are not the antagonist of each game themselves. Every story needs a “bad guy”. There needs to be focus, intent, execution, and resolution. The protagonist and the antagonist exist on the same coin. Since Killzone Mercenary gives the player a main character that never speaks, all of the story must be told by the surrounding characters. Guerilla attempts something unique by showing the player that you are indeed a mercenary, but by the time the campaign was wrapping up, it felt like nothing had happened for the six to ten hours I had played the game.

Killzone has the Vita showing off its power

If there is anything that cannot be taken away from Mercenary, it is that the game looks damn good, and is a fine example of what the Vita is capable of doing graphically. From start to finish, the game looks amazing on the Vita, and the only real issue lies with the save feature. When the game goes to save a checkpoint, which honestly is beneficial to the player, the game slows down a bit and looks to be lagging. Since shooters generally have multiple checkpoints per level, this can become annoying. Other than that, Killzone Mercenary is one of the best, if not the best, looking portable games ever released.

Recommendation: Buy it

As I mentioned above, Killzone Mercenary is an interesting game. It's good, but not great. It's the Vita's best first person shooter, but is nowhere near the Vita's best overall game. The Killzone series has the ability to draw in Sony fans, yet has never reached critical or financial success that has been seen in the industry's leading shooters. Guerilla does a good job of bringing the first shooter worth playing on the Vita, but still falls short in achieving the elite status of first person shooters on the market. Still, Killzone Mercenary is a Vita exclusive that should be in every owner's collection.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/01/13, Updated 10/09/13

Game Release: Killzone: Mercenary (US, 09/10/13)

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