Killzone: Liberation

Sony's shooter returns with a fresh perspective on a new platform, but is it any good?

Third-person shooter

By Alex Wollenschlaeger

For all the attention that Guerilla is getting for Killzone on the PlayStation 3, it's worth noting that the first game wasn't the Halo-killer some had painted it to be. The good news for Killzone: Liberation is that what looks like a throwaway PSP game is actually a fun jaunt through the Killzone universe, and it may just help get you excited about the PSP again.

Imagine viewing the action in Killzone from a gunship hovering overhead and that's pretty much what Killzone: Liberation feels like. The new perspective works surprisingly well on the PSP, giving you a good view of the battlefield - thanks to the width of the PSP screen and dynamic scaling. Buildings become transparent as you enter them and enemies are placed so that you'll rarely be caught firing into nothingness. No real problems there, then.

"The combination of intelligent aiming assistance and context sensitive controls makes for a smooth experience."

What's more surprising is how well Guerilla has managed to get the gameplay working. The combination of intelligent aiming assistance and context sensitive controls that let you do everything from disarming bombs to delivering life saving injections to downed compatriots makes for a smooth experience. There's a learning curve to getting to grips with what your character, Jan Templar, veteran of the first game, is capable of.

After that the controls are a non-issue. There are also tactical elements that allow you to control a second character who fights alongside you in some missions. This is again intelligently mapped, allowing you to concentrate more on what you want to do rather than how you have to do it.

One issue that isn't brushed aside easily is the relative dearth of content in the singleplayer mode. The story again involves the red-eyed Helghast and follows another battle in the greater war. This one takes place in Helghast territory, with the ISA brimming with confidence after driving the Nazi-esque baddies back in the first game. Again, though, the setting and atmosphere are wasted on a story that's too short and does too little. If the game weren't as challenging as it is, you would breeze through it in a couple hours.

"More attention is given to general game and level design, which is good, because you'll be dying a lot."

There is considerably more attention given to general game and level design, which is good, because you'll be dying a lot. The first missions flow by quickly, but once things ramp up you'll need to make sure you conserve ammunition and figure the best way to deal with your opponents. The checkpoint system works well, so you'll seldom have to repeat whole missions, though you will sometimes be strong-armed into restarting them if you're stuck with a bad checkpoint save. Once you're done with each of the missions, you'll also be able to go back in for Challenge mode, which extends the lifespan of the game further.

Getting half a dozen PSPs into one room isn't the easiest of tasks, so we were unable to fully test out the multiplayer portion of the game, but what we've seen looks solid. There is also a co-op mode that lets you play through the singleplayer portions of the game with a friend. Don't worry if you can't find people to play with. Guerilla is planning online multiplayer modes, too, though there's no firm date for when they will be available for download. No matter. That's just gravy. What Sony has here is already a compelling experience, one that PSP owners should definitely check out.

Graphics Sound Gameplay Depth Presentation OVERALL
7.0 7.0 8.0 7.0 8.0 8.0

Killzone left something of a sour taste in my mouth, so I barely paid attention when Guerrilla said it was bringing the series to the PSP. Perhaps it's because my expectations were so low that I enjoyed it so much. I probably would have had more fun with the game if the difficulty was more balanced and there was more to the story, but as it stands, it's still one of the better games on the portable. If the PSP had more games like this, it wouldn't' be in the dire situation it's in.

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Killzone Liberation
Direct feed gameplay   (PSP - SCE)
00:48 12MB DF, SD, 16:9

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