Killzone 3 Beta Impressions: Where My People At?

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A thing that comes with all beta run-throughs and experiences is that it’s a shakedown: latency, colors, spawns, and overall interaction is one big bloody test. It’s because of that primal point that each time you walk into a beta test that you have to take it with a grain of salt and just flow with what happens.

Betas are all about working out of the kinks and Killzone 3 has no exception. While combat and control work for the most part, friends and allies all look painfully similar, causing the worst kinds of friendly kills and backstabbing you can think of. It’s not that you mean for it to happen, but when you are in the middle of a firefight, everyone looks the same.

With that said, it would help if your teammates knew when to take cover rather than run right into the middle of the stream of crisscrossing gunfire. With emphasis on squad and team combat, it’s nearly impossible at this stage to get a team that you are able to work with. Without an option to invite friends (even if they were lucky enough to get into the beta), you’re more than likely to wind up with people that are just going to do their own thing a la Halo: Reach, rather than Call of Duty.

Thankfully this doesn’t take away from the gameplay. Completely revamping their loadout and leveling system, you now have a choice of five different classes before each round, ranging from an Engineer that can repair machinery and drop turrets, to a Medic that can heal teammates and has a drone fly around with him for backup. As you progress you gain upgrades for additional weapons, abilities, and armor, making it a nice blend of the traditional shooters we have all grown accustomed to. No one class overpowers the other, and for those with a tendency to want to move fast or strike hard, you’ll find a loadout suitable for your needs.

Where Guerrilla Games and Sony really pushed the boundaries is in the level designs: Corinthe Highway, Frozen Dam and Turbine Concourse SE-6. Crointhe Highway is the largest of the three, sporting two of the Exo-Mechs to run around in while avoiding crumbling and burning buildings, while people fight around and below the streets. Turbine Concourse SE-6 is the official “Jetpack” level, and to really survive (or get any semblance of score) you have to get to the upper echelons of the map with said jetpacks. Frozen Dam is the one most played, with the most dynamic set up of close-quarters, open expanses for sniping and sprinting, and a whole heap of snow to make visibility next to nothing.

Speaking to the three different game variants – Guerrilla Warfare, Warzone, and Operations – each one has its own significant pros and cons. Guerrilla is your standard deathmatch and the one that with an incoherent part you’ll tend to do the best at while in Operation you have an objective that requires you to actually focus on something other than yourself (and that apparently boggles the mind). The newer one that tends to cause issue is Warzone. Setting you up to change the objective every seven minutes to something new, it forces players to act as a team and stay on their toes.

Killzone 3 has tremendous potential and promise, whether it realizes any of that will be based primarily on how Guerilla responds beta feedback. With something already set up like Halo: Reach or Call of Duty next week, it’s enough to know that this is the beta, and not a finished product. Perhaps once team-based combat with friends is available, that may just be enough to cause it to be a great game…the world will find out in February.

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