The demo area for the game was separated into two parts. 4 Vita’s were playing the single player portion of the game, while 8 were playing the online portion of the game. I went to the single player first and it was great. The game looks fascinating on the bright little screen, and is visually stunning. The sound effects were great, and not as dull sounding as Resistance, and the gameplay was a bit more streamlined than Killzone 3. I don’t personally mind this because of the Vita somewhat needing that, but it seems to bug a lot of fans. It had a “Call of Duty” feel to it due to the lack of kick back in the guns and overall easy AI.
The game did seem to utilize the whole “mercenary” aspect rather well though. The core game will have contracts and more depth to it in terms of missions and gameplay, but while in battle you also act like a mercenary as well. You can pick up ammo from soldiers (not done automatically) and get rewarded for it, and I’m sure there are other things to explore with as well.
The AI wasn’t the brightest of enemies though. Some would swing around you and get you from behind, others would toss grenades, but often times they would run into the open and become easy takedowns. I got the chance to melee a whole bunch of them within one area without any real issue. There were areas where it got tough, but nothing too dramatic.
The game does borrow a lot of strengths from the console versions though. The game feels “heavy” in a sense of gameplay, the environments look and feel amazing, and the gameplay is fun. The controls work a lot better than past shooters on the handheld, but also have their little nuisance perks. You have to double tap the rear screen, then hold to sprint. I’m not sure if that can be changed to simply double tapping, but it’d be nice. Grenade throwing is also better as you tap the grenade button with your thumb to switch to grenades, then press the shoulder button to toss it.
After a few minutes with single player, I jumped over and played the multiplayer. In my opinion it didn’t feel as polished as the single player, and the small amount of players is still dramatically hurting the feel of the game. The game was 4 vs 4 team deathmatch style, and there was a lot of empty downtime while I was playing. I’m not sure if it was because the other team was doing terrible, or the fact we hardly had any “stress points.”
With Call of Duty you don’t have a whole lot of players in a map, but it pushes people to certain areas of small maps to create havoc. Killzone didn’t feel like it did that too well. The maps are somewhat large all things considering, and you are searching for people a lot. You will come across one or two people, kill them, then go across the map and do it again. I was getting bored in one match, and several people were leaving before even finishing the round.
I think if they found a way to bump that player count up, it’d be really fun. However 4 vs 4 is just plain lame, and I’m not sure why the Vita is stuck doing that. Luckily the game picks up a little credit by having an in-depth multiplayer that intertwines with the single player. The entire game is based around earning “cash” for skilled kills, and collecting “Vanguards” when a player is killed. Vanguards are basically like dog tags from Battlefield, and cash is earned to unlock new things. If you get double kills, kill streaks, etc… you get more cash.
At first with the single player I was really impressed with the title, but then it got stuck in repeats of action. For example you go to melee an enemy and the same touch screen actions keep popping up. It really adds nothing to the game, and could easily be changed up, but never did during my time. Then the online felt a little held back as well.
So while I was somewhat impressed with the game, I kept triggering thoughts of Resistance: Burning Skies the entire time. Two entirely different developers with two different approaches, but perhaps FPS will always be restricted on Vita? I think Killzone: Mercenary will be a much better game in every regard, I just don’t want to get my hopes up that its THE FPS game for Vita. Mainly because I can see this turning out badly, just like Resistance. Cross my fingers that I’m wrong!