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Killzone 3: To Helghan and Back

I was late to jump on the Killzone 2 bandwagon. As I indicated in my review, I had a feeling the game would deliver, but my hopes were tempered by my not-so-great feelings towards the first game. Thankfully, the game provided a top-shelf experience and delivered on nearly everything it promised.

Thanks to Sony, I won't have the same doubts going into Killzone 3. Although the beta only allowed access to the game's multiplayer side, it's easy to see Killzone 3 is primed and ready to deliver.

Character classes were a major draw in Killzone 2 and return in the follow-up, only in a slightly altered form. All classes are available from the start, immediately opening up a good deal of strategy for newer players. It also gives players the option to play as the class they want rather than forcing them to work through other classes.

This time around, players can choose from Field Medic, Tactician, Engineer, Infiltrator or Marksman. Every class has its own unique on-field specialties. The Field Medic, for example, can heal and revive soldiers, while Tacticians are the only ones able to capture spawn points on maps. The abilities shouldn't feel completely foreign to Killzone 2 veterans, though the changes are pretty significant during play. For instance, Engineers can now upgrade their turrets to shoot missiles, making them a more viable on-field threat.

As you play through matches you earn points, which are then spent on unlocking new class abilities and weapons. The system offers an impressive sense of depth. Once you get to unlocking different items, there's no telling what sort of combinations you'll come up with, adding even more depth to on-field tactics.

All classes have access to around eight or so weapons, including sidearms, rifles and specialty armaments like the RPG. Though still in Alpha form, the rewards system is consistent with unlocks. You never feel like you're being showered with unearned rewards, nor do you feel like you're slogging through games just waiting for another pistol.

The beta is limited to three maps, but offers a good look at another new feature, vehicles. Each faction has access to mechs as well as the much-advertised jetpacks. Both lend a completely different dynamic to matches. Mechs add a powerful land-based threat, making Engineers and their turrets that much more important to your team's overall strategy. Jetpacks, on the other hand, are just plain cool. Don't expect massive aerial dogfights, though they allow you to get the jump on opponents or at least gain a higher vantage point.

Of the available gametypes, the current favorite has to be Operations. Building on Killzone 2's rotation match-type system, Operations runs your team through a series of missions. You begin the match with the goal of destroying an enemy base, then transition into an all-out firefight, then into a defender mission. Sections are bookended by cutscenes explaining what you're trying to do, as well as offering a mini-narrative to your exploits.

Warzone is another randomized mode and places players in a constantly rotating set of mission objectives without any breaks in the action. Finally, there's Guerrilla Warfare, otherwise known as Team Deathmatch in most FPS circles.

Based on the multiplayer beta, Killzone 3 looks like more of a subtle refinement to the formula rather than an outright redo. This, however, isn't a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination and can only mean one thing - lost sleep and a general drop in productivity for Killzone fans when the game finally releases next year.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker
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