Critical Consensus: Killzone 3

Old red eyes is back

Killzone has always been something of a divisive franchise, accused of all things from all angles whilst still generating the sort of rabid player and community passion that developers would kill for. Killzone 2 built on the premise of the first with weighty controls, crisply grim visuals and a no-bones, action-thriller pace of all-out planetary invasion. It courted controversy for touched up screenshots, poor multiplayer and a development period full of delays and unmet promises.

For the third issue, Guerrilla took an admirable stance of listening to both the specialist press and the community, addressing issues and keeping expectations in line with potential. Sony also lined it up as a flagship for the new technologies of Move and 3D, piling the pressure on its exclusive FPS.

Generally, the game has been slightly less well received than the second, scoring 87 per cent on the almighty Metacritic rankings compared to the second's 91. It's probably at least partly down to the law of diminishing returns - Killzone is the target of many accusations of low-innovation - but Activision has proven beyond doubt that that law is far from universal.


Four percent isn't much of a drop, then - and some reviewers were completely bowled over by Killzone 3. Destructoid editor Jim Sterling, for example pulled a full marks out of the bag in a review which praises the attempts to shore up the gaps in the last game, and applauds the cementing of its strengths.

Special mention is reserved for the unapologetically intense pace of the game, littered with set pieces and "some of the biggest, toughest boss challenges you'll find in a first-person-shooter." Sterling also finds no fault in the newly tightened and responsive controls, one of the community's main gripes about Killzone 2. It hasn't lost its signature heft, however, with Destructoid claiming that "Killzone 3 is still one of the only games around with a true sense of heft and realism, simply presented in a faster, more receptive way."

Although the game has "a better story, richer characters, quicker gameplay, more variety and fun gadgets", Sterling's highest accolades are reserved for the multiplayer, which he calls "one of the most refined, polished and perfected online multiplayer games in the business." High praise indeed, which will undoubtedly set the cat among Bobby Kotick's pigeons. The variety of modes, support weapons and classes are all singled out for mention.


Brutal melee kills, superb voice acting and a lavish production budget all round out Sterling's assessment, which concludes in no uncertain terms. "Killzone 3 is as close to perfect as online shooters get, and I do not say that lightly...I don't think the PlayStation 3 has ever had quite such a rounded, satisfactory package as this, with this level of polish, refinement and pure, simple, unpretentious action."

Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead sticks with an eight for his review, somewhat disappointed that Guerrilla changed many of the aspects of Killzone 2 he'd enjoyed most, but acknowledging that this was exactly what fans had asked for. The eagerness of Killzone 3 to express itself as variedly as possible, he says, has led to a lack of distinct identity "almost becoming just another slice of FPS pie in the process."

Plaudits are laid at the feet of the game's tremendous visuals and production, and Whitehead is another reviewer who feels that the controls are just right, eschewing some of the last game's heaviness whilst "it still mercifully resists the lure of run-and-gun bombast." A new slot for heavy weapons and the added ability to have your NPC team mate revive you help allay frustration in the game's harder sections, although there remains "a level of ferocity that means you can easily be killed in less than a second, even on normal difficulty" which "may still leave furious toothmarks in your Dual Shock."

Weak plot and good voice overs are hit upon again, but once more multiplayer is the star of the show, where "more nimble controls fit snugly with genre standards and the different ways of playing strike a pleasing balance between what you expect and what you'd hope to see."


For Joystiq's Andrew Yoon, the picture isn't quite as rosy, only eliciting a seven. In fixing many of the holes in the Killzone 2's experience, Yoon says, Guerrilla has neglected to make the game as enjoyable as it might.

Though handling is "as if someone hit fast-forward on the game engine", that lack of Killzone 2's trademark controller lag "makes similar classes of weapons feel nearly indistinguishable from one another", reducing tactical value. New variety and the gimmicks of low gravity and jet-pack pilotting are lost all very well, but "every brilliant moment is countered by another of frustration, anger, or boredom." Excessive reliance on rails sections is defamed, as is the use of "temperamental objectives your way that tend to be unclear and poorly communicated."

It's online play which rescues Killzone for Yoon - doing "what the campaign simply cannot, which is to make you care," although only three game modes leads him to "wonder if Killzone 3's multiplayer offers enough content to remain competitive with the other players in the space."

So, many problems addressed, but for Yoon at least, a lot of personality lost in the process. As he summarises - "Killzone 3 certainly offers more bells and whistles than its predecessor - it's just a shame they've been affixed to an inferior game."

More reviews for Killzone 3 are available at Games Radar, GameSpot, and GamesTM.

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Latest comments (17)

James Stanard Principal Engine Programmer, Eat Sleep Play, Inc7 years ago
This article should more correctly be titled "Critical Disagreement". I've never seen so many divisive and controversial opinions about a game that has obviously had this much polish and care applied to it. You get critics loving the variety of action and pacing while others complaining you don't get enough time to actually enjoy any of it. You have critics lauding the environment variety and color palette, while others claim it detracts from the game's unique style. Some critics love the new motion controls. Others think they're totally skippable. Some love the new speed and precision of the controls; others miss the loss of the deliberate and weighty controls of Killzone 2.

Apparently this is one of those games you must play if only to make up your own damn mind.
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Private Industry 7 years ago
"It courted controversy for touched up screenshots, poor multiplayer and a development period full of delays and unmet promises."

The controversy came from the pre rendered trailer that was sold as in-game graphics (but in all fairness they managed to get really close to the pre rendered trailer) and I don`t think the multiplayer was conceived as being bad from the general press or players even the bad critics from the second one where saying the multiplayer is good. :)

For the third game there are certainly some very varied opinions present and while I only played the mutliplayer, at least there the unique art style is still there and it`s easy to see if it`s Killzone or another shooter as well as for the weighty controls they are still there just with the lag issue fixed. I never had a problem with the controls in the second one it was just a mater of getting used to it, but it`s understandable some people didn`t like it with a lag somewhere in the region of 180-190ms.

It`s a bit strange that some complain a lot because things where changed the way the fans requested it, that`s down to personal taste. The reviews personal taste is that he liked the lag, therefore because they listen to what the people want who actually buy the game and their personal taste and change that accordingly it get`s a negative point.

I`m certainly interested to see the story that is the center of the complains, strangely the second one had also plenty of complaints about the story while I still enjoyed it.

Besides of that you always have your usual suspects of strange reviews like the once from Edge, but I better don`t go into details there that would just take to much time. But given the fact they gave KZ3 a 7/10 it has to be an epic game since they already gave 7/10 to God of War 2, Fallout 3 and Mass Effect 1 just to name a few that where blessed with their unique scoring :D
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany7 years ago
Worries me that the most anticipated games this year are "Gears of War 3", "Uncharted 3", "Deus Ex", "Mortal Kombat", "Mass Effect 3"... Well I think you get it: a nice amounth of "2's", "3īs" and Remakes.

Don't get me wrong; I'll get all of those is they are good. But I'm seing some lack of new ideas this year a lot more that in previous ones.

And we say that the japanese industry was stuck and being 0 innovative. True, but maybe the same is starting to happen to us?. Just saying...

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alfonso Sexto on 5th February 2011 5:27pm

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Show all comments (17)
Private Industry 7 years ago
You forgot Rage, LA Noire, Dark Souls, The Last Guardian, Journey, Duke Nuken 4 ever, Catherine, Bulletstorm, Sorcery and some others :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Private on 5th February 2011 6:05pm

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Are there no sleeper hits out there?
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"Are there no sleeper hits out there? "

Magicka. For an indy game and being number one on Steam's most purchased list, beating Dead Space 2, it certainly is a sleeper hit.

It's also really good. Get it.
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Gregory Hommel writer 7 years ago
What a pile of garbage. So many reviewers said Killzone 2 didn't innovate enough. Where did the highest scored FPS games innovate. Did Halo Reach innovate? In what area? Does COD innovate? Where? I would say that the striking visuals and quality are innovation on their own. How about adding the only true first person cover mechanic? What about the dynamically changing online mode that has since been widely copied? I would say that Killzone 2&3 are two of the most innovative games ever to exist. It's like Sony's first party games cannot be denied but they will not be praised. We all know well that no game is perfect. The part we need to figure out is why critics point out the flaws in great games and the saving graces of mediocre games. There have only been a few games to deliver the quality that Guerrilla has in Killzone and they are also Sony exclusives from this generation.
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Put in a different context its probably down to expectation and hype.

Were these a independant or a lesser known developer, I'm sure the feedback and reviews may be more favourable overall.

Maybe, people dont really know what they want. Its a truly a interesting field of landmines coupled with metrics for developers to feedback off, in the development of any sequelitis.
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Neil Alphonso Lead Designer, Splash Damage Ltd7 years ago
Many good points, but it's worth pointing out that Uncharted is Sony first party as well.

I can't comment on the quality of the game, but I think it's hugely impressive that Guerrilla has pulled off this kind of scope in 2 years, and it's a shame that the review scores aren't reflecting this.
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Miguel Melo Principal Software Engineer/Product Manager 7 years ago
I'm with Alexander: Magicka is well worth a look.

"Remember: the safe word is BANANA!"
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games7 years ago
Hehe yeah Magica is pretty decent with its fair share of problems. But definitely a nice game.
Maybe it's just me, but another game that seems to fly very low in the radar is the upcoming 3DS title Steel Diver. It may not have the mass appeal of other titles, but it seems to be a solid and original game!

Looking forward to it very much!
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Private Industry 7 years ago
While I do like Killzone 2I wouldn`t put it into the "innovate game" categorie. It`s a good game with an amazing engine that GG build and Warzone is a great addition to the MP, but as far as innovations go not that much at least just gameplay wise. For me in the innovations categorie on PS3 it`s more like LBP, Flower or Uncharted, where they actually managed to do something that Eidos failed to do in the last 4 Tomb Raider games to make an Adventure that`s actually nice to play.
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Gregory Hommel writer 7 years ago
Of course Killzone is not on the list of the most innovative games. The accusation here is that they are have not innovated in the FPS genre. I can certainly entertain that opinion, but let's take the most highly regarded games in the FPS genre and ask if innovation is what earned them their high critical ratings. Did Halo Reach innovate? I would say that if any Sony IP took it's users from a powerful character to a less powerful character for the sequel, the game would have recieved a poor review. Yet, for a game like Halo, it's innovative. How about COD. I'll agree that Modern Warfare innovated. One of the biggest innovations was the quality, which KZ 2&3 get no credit for, and the other was the multiplayer. Other than that, every COD title is an absolute retread yet the meta-critic scores are through the roof. So is the consensus here that if you are a Sony owned developer that quality and polish are a given and will not contribute to the scoring of the game? Again, what a bunch of garbage. I love EVERY game this generation that has delivered quality and polish, but they are fewer and further between than they should be. Every one of them has given me a fresh and exciting experience. Since most games don't elicit that type of reaction, I would have to say that they are innovative.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gregory Hommel on 10th February 2011 3:53am

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Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
I don't think the Killzone series is particularly innovative (even in context of the genre) although I agree that the cover mechanic introduced in KZ2 was excellent and its overall polish and AI made it very enjoyable to play.

Regardless, most reviews for it have been very positive, and I will be buying it on release day as I liked KZ2 a great deal. I think it's a shame that the scripting and characterisation is apparently not much better, and I also would have really liked online co-op though.
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Gregory Hommel writer 7 years ago
Wow, you are correct about the online co-op. With the split-screen co-op campaign you have to think it wouldn't have been that much more work. Maybe online campaign co-op needs to become a staple before we embrace 3-D compatibility. The most fun I've ever had in any game is the co-op in Gears Of War and it has never been duplicated on the PS3.
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Otakar Schon Technology editor, Economia7 years ago
i really dont understand how the reviews dont reflect more the awesome job Guerilla did with motion controls for their game. Just for the support of Move the game should rank much higher because it proves that motion and hardcore can be placed in the same sentence without blushing.
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