The PS Vita has never had a stunning console quality game that made its portable features shine. Yes, there was Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which was quite a competent game but it can’t be classified as match for the PS3 Uncharted games.
However, Guerrilla Cambridge have done something brilliant. Killzone: Mercenary, at a first glance, will remind you of the PS3 Killzone games, and it’s bewildering how close they’ve managed to replicate the home console experience on a portable handheld.
In fact, Killzone: Mercenary is one of the best shooters ever made for a handheld, but that’s not saying much of other platforms’ capabilities.
It’s quite an interesting game considering it tells you get an idea of what happened between Killzone 1 and 2, and considering the PS4 version is set after the events of Killzone 3, this game is a great addition to the franchise if you own a Vita and love the Killzone franchise.
But should you buy a Vita for this alone?
After pondering for a while, I would say–yes, you should. The reason being not the single player which I will expand in a bit, but the incredible multiplayer that this title offers. I have to say I had immense fun playing this online, and it’s amazing how the developers managed to replicate the console Killzone experience, and in some ways even better it.
I do truly feel that some features and ideas from this title should be put in the next console Killzone game, as it has been designed very intelligently to provide a good pick up and play experience. The Warzone mode that Killzone fans love and love returns but with a few new objectives. All of them are designed with Vita’s portability in mind.
You must have noticed that I’ve been talking about the multiplayer and not single player, but there’s a reason for that. I feel like this game’s online mode is what makes this game stand out compared to other games out there on handhelds. This is an experience that you just won’t find anywhere else.
The netcode, to the gameplay modes, to the way the maps are designed to facilitate fast action with a sprinkling of tactics and randomized objectives, everything comes together in harmony to give the multiplayer that addictive feel.
In some ways, I would say that this is sort of better than Killzone 3’s online mode, but it’s a bit less expansive and more restrictive when it comes to level design. However, all that comparison is meaningless because it’s a fact that Killzone: Mercenary’s multiplayer mode is better than anything I have seen on handhelds, especially when it comes to the entire scope and what they’ve done on a tiny portable.
The multiplayer is just one of the attractions this game has to offer. The second is the visuals. This really does look like a hybrid of Killzone 2 and Killzone 3’s graphics. There are plenty of colours to fascinate you, the lack of which was a criticism of Killzone 2 if you remember. The graphics are crisp and there’s less blur, which makes the level design in the singleplayer and multiplayer stand out.
Considering the Vita comes with 512MB RAM, it’s similar to the amount in the PS3 but is less faster. To fit all these assets in such a way on a portable speaks volumes of what Guerrilla Cambridge have done.
Not only does it look like a console game but it also controls like one. The Vita’s twin sticks have been utilized well here. although there are less buttons compared to the DualShock 3, but the touchscreen support nullifies that.
The important part is getting used to the controls, and this has been an issue with the PS3 Killzone games as well. You might need to set the settings to your liking or expect to struggle until you get the hang of how to, well, move around and shoot. Once you are set in, then it’s all good to go. You won’t feel like you are playing or controlling something inferior even if you have played all the previous Killzone games on the PS3, and that’s a testament to the developer’s skill.
Killzone: Mercenary falls prey to the same narrative employed by the previous Killzone games. You hardly get motivated to support a side or do whatever you are doing in the game. You could argue, that it’s a shooter and maybe because it’s on a portable it’s difficult to get that level of story telling, but that’s not really an excuse.
You are a Mercenary in this game and don’t have to pick any sides, the main objective for you is to earn money anyway you can. Sounds simple enough, right? You are put into situations that will earn you money, be it killing enemies, or just doing anything. You can put that money to good use by buying weapons and other things.
The campaign lasted 5 hours for me, which isn’t really a lot, but it’s a portable and this is a pick-up-and-play title. While that’s not enough for people who just want to enjoy a satisfying campaign, this is where the game falters and this is where you have to make a decision.
I’m not saying the campaign will not provide you any enjoyment, it’s the opposite it’s packed with content to give you fun in small doses. If you are like me who likes to finish a game in one go, then you will probably finish it in one sitting; depending on how much you are enjoying the game of course.
There’s everything you expect from a Killzone game in Killzone: Mercenary’s campaign. I won’t spoil the things you can face in it since it’s a little short and will kill the surprise element.
Should you buy the game? Yes, you should, if you love playing portable games. While Killzone: Mercenary could have offered a better campaign, it’s a game packed with content when you consider its price on the Vita.