Killzone Mercenary is the PS Vita’s brand new first person shooter game and in my view probably one of the most fun gaming experiences on the PS Vita. Killzone Mercenary is the portable console experience I have been waiting for and feels just as good to me as any FPS game does on a console. The visuals are spectacular, the sound is great and the gameplay works impressively well on the handheld.
The story of the single player campaign in Killzone Mercenary does border on the simple. I don’t think one should go out and buy Killzone Mercenary for a gripping character driven story expecting anywhere near anything like The Last Of Us. Killzone Mercenary is not a game to expect that level, in fact, I don’t think anyone really expects that from the FPS game genre in general. Killzone Mercenary is instead much like any COD or Battlefield game series in that, well, the story isn’t what you buy the game for. It’s the game itself, how fun it is, how much stuff you can shoot and whether or not the multiplayer is worth it. They are the type of games where you can just go in, have some fun, shoot some things for a bit and log off.
Killzone Mercenary does have a story though. You play as a Mercenary for hire in the single player campaign. The war between the Helghast and the ISA continues and as a mercenary you are hired and paid by either side to complete missions critical to the war effort for both forces. It’s as simple as that really, it does have some complications and insights into some type of mercenary life. But I’m not wanting to spoil it by revealing any of the plot points, I would say that the story satisfied me more than enough. The missions are fun and varied in their design, look and gameplay styles.
Overall there are 9 missions in the game which should take about an hour to complete each (I played on hard and that’s how long it took me, although the first few are a bit shorter than the last). Some missions are stealthy, some are just shoot them ups, some are both and some are even escort missions.
Gameplay wise Killzone Mercenary is broken up into three tiers of challenges for the campaign. There is the basic sort of FPS run in and shoot everyone in the room to progress through the stages. There are stealth types of missions where you sneak around and try to go undetected. The final one involves hacking terminals and using a sort of picture code to decipher them. I found both the stealth missions and running in and just shooting missions fun and I didn’t get bored with them at all, however the hacking terminals seemed to get repetitive as the game went on. I never really wanted to hack them and always felt like they slowed the game down. It would have been nicer with a bit more variety in the hacking.
On the PS Vita I found the shooting to be smooth and easy and found the system to be very responsive for all gameplay styles whether it was touching the front screen for the hacking terminals, using the buttons to walk around or sliding my fingers up and down the Vita’s back for sniper scoping. The only gripe I had gameplay wise was the cover system of crouching behind boxes or obstructions to block fire. You had to push circle to get it done, but at times, actually many times, I found my character not doing so and this resulted in my death because I was just standing there. It was sort of a minor thing though, but it was just something I noticed.
With the AI in the game and the challenge they provided for the single player campaign I thought it varied. At times they seemed to know where I was and would come up or down or sideways at me to try and flank me. While other times I found that I could sneak up or even flank them without them seeing me quite easily. I did play the game on the hardest difficulty and didn’t find it particularly difficult and unlike most games I am not particularly good at FPS games. I’m okay, but I’ve never put the difficulty up on the highest and finished one before. Many a time I was able to just get up to enemies and melee them instead of even wasting my bullets.
In saying this though, the game is what I felt it needed to be for it to be fun. I never got bored playing Killzone Mercenary and for the whole time playing the game I felt as if a new standard had been just set on the PS Vita for this genre of gaming. The graphics and the sounds in the game are its biggest draw card and on the Vita’s screen the game looks superb. The game felt like a great portable action experience.
Having the weapon purchase points at many locations in each missions made this game feel like a game. It’s not a story game, it’s a game. Kills are rewarded with money, money you use for buying better more effective weapons and the larger the kill streak the more money you get.
In terms of the multiplayer I found the game also to be very fun, there are three different types of game options, these include Mercenary Warfare, Guerilla Warfare and Warzone . Multiplayer is sort of what most would have come to expect from this genre of gaming. There are weapon class load outs for you to choose when you spawn and then based on your chosen game type you need to try and win against your opponents. The only thing I thought was lacking about the experience is that there are only 4 opponents and 4 players in each team. While this is okay, the maps are quite big and if your game isn’t full there isn’t really that much action. A few times when I was playing I had games of 2V1 against me while many times I seemed to spawn where the enemy was and was killed strait away. The experience itself is fun, but the multiplayer part of the game is what I would say is likely the part of this game furthest away from the console experience. It’s good for something on the go though, and it’s a lot of fun if you have a full game.
Overall Killzone Mercenary is one of the most fun and thrilling games I have played on the Vita ever. I do think this game has set a whole new level for this genre of gaming for handheld consoles. Killzone Mercenary is a must buy for anyone’s Vita collection and a game that I score highly because I see it just as something that’s entertaining and fun. While I could give it a low score for not having a great story or having a full level of multiplayer (comparable to consoles), I don’t see it as deserving as such. The fact is that this is a great portable FPS game and there is no better game than this ever made before it on a handheld. Killzone Mercenary is a whole new level of fun for the Vita and I hope to see more of this type of game in the future.