Killzone: Mercenary Review: The definitive PS Vita shooter
- Posted September 6th, 2013 at 12:49 EDT by Michael Harradence
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The definitive PS Vita shooter and a must-have for any Killzone fan.
- Fantastic visuals
- Great multiplayer
- Solid gameplay, with unique twists like Valor Cards
- Some dull indoor environments
- Main campaign is over too quickly
- Characters are underdeveloped
Mechanically, Killzone: Mercenary doesn’t subvert any perceptions you may have of the FPS genre, but that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Guns feel weighty and pack a punch, sliding into cover is intuitive, and scoring head shots is as satisfying as it’s ever been. Thanks to PS Vita’s dual analogue sticks, you may as well be playing a PS3 game; control is smooth and the unobtrusive touchscreen functionality is seamless in its execution. At no single moment do touchscreen mechanics feel tacked on. Tapping the weapon icon to switch to your secondary gun (your loadout consists of two weapons, armor, a VAN-GUARD deployable, and grenades) feels natural, as does sliding the rear touchpad to zoom in with a sniper rifle to blow an enemy’s head into bloody chunks. Even if you don’t fancy using this sort of input, you can simply use the D-pad to replace many of the touchscreen functions, including weapon switching.
Whether you are going toe-to-toe with the Higs or battling ISA grunts, enemy A.I. is extremely competent. Foes will rarely linger in the open, utilizing cover wherever possible and flanking you if you aren’t quick to keep an eye on all directions. Better still, they’ll lob grenades at you, forcing you to keep on the move. Even when they fire back, they won’t always expose their weak point; more often, enemies will fire around corners or over cover while exposing as little of themselves as possible. As such, firefights require you to dig in and slowly pick away, with skill and precision taking priority over brute force. Going in guns blazing, I was soon met with a Helghast-sized boot up my arse and ended up a bloody pulp on the floor. Thanks to the relentless A.I., I found myself pinned down on numerous occasions, and the thrill of watching bullets zip overhead before popping out of cover to nail a baddie on the bonce is extremely palpable.
However, there’s more to combat than popping heads and slitting throats. At the nucleus of Mercenary’s frantic firefights are cash bonuses. Every action you perform, be it a headshot, scavenging ammo, hacking Intel terminals, blowing enemies up with explosive barrels, or performing melee kills, nets you money, which in turn is used to purchase extra weapons, ammo, and other items via arms dealer caches. These cash incentives really add a new dimension to what might have been an enjoyable, if perfunctory, shooter experience, and I found myself exploring every nook and cranny for pick-ups and intelligence drops, not to mention lining up headshots and stealth-killing for bigger rewards.