Radically changing the core game play of a franchise can be, and historically has been, a disaster.
Amazingly, this is not the case with Killzone: Liberation on the PSP.
Not even remotely resembling its 2004 first-person shooter predecessor, Liberation is an entirely different beast.
Maybe it is because of the control limitations, maybe we can thank Coded Arms, but whatever it was, Liberation excels because of its changes.
Shifted to a third-person isometric view, this tactical shooter offers players some of the most intense firefights on the platform.
Right off the bat, the crisp graphics draw you into the frantic battlefield. Character models and environments are detailed, animation is great.
Explosions are spectacular, and seeing the enemy flying through the air after being blown away never gets old.
The minimalist HUD makes good use of the wide-screen display, and remains useful without being in the way of the action. Frame rate is rock solid, only dipping slightly when massive explosions occur. The entire package is polished.
You will be listening to some pretty throw-away marching tunes, but the sound effects are just as impressive as the graphics. Guns, explosions, and even the voice work sound superb.
Liberation starts out exactly where the last game left off. But you really don’t have to worry yourself with the story. You just shoot stuff, and hope to stay alive.
This time you are on the offensive against the Halghast, who will be coming at you with all they’ve got. Once again, you are Templar, a human soldier in this futuristic war. You will get some assistance from your teammate Rico.
You are going to need the help too. Killzone: Liberation is not an easy game. Enemies do not die from one bullet. The enemy artificial intelligence will, for the most part, keep you on your toes.
The Helghast will dodge for cover, duck behind objects, and find ways to take you out. The emphasis to game play is tactical, finding cover, and not going in guns blazing.
Controls are smartly mapped to the triggers and face buttons. One of the biggest issues with the PSP is how auto-aiming is handled. Liberation does a fine job of helping you aim your weapon when it is trained in the direction of the enemy.
Since you are looking at things from a top-down perspective, elevation is not easily surveyed. The game’s biggest flaw is the brutally frustrating trial-and-error until you understand the lay of the land. You also sometimes cannot tell where the path to progress to the next section is, also because of the camera.
Thankfully there is a generous check point system in place, which makes for limited amounts of backtracking through parts of the level you already played. But let’s get down to brass tacks, no amount of check points will make up for all the times you die in this game.
But you are going to want to play more, because the core play is not cheap, just challenging. Helping you is Rico, who is easily commanded with a nice tactical command system. This is initiated by pushing up on the d-pad, then using left or right to chose waypoints, etc.
The single-player campaign, consisting of 16 missions, goes by quickly. After you complete a mission, though, you can play through the game with a friend in co-op mode. Multiple playthroughs are rewarding too, so the length of the game is not a bother.
Ancillary to the main story are single-player challenges. Here you will be taking target practice, and other timed challenges. This is a great change of pace, and you can unlock bonus by completing the challenges – even better.
At the onset of each mission, you can chose between different earned bonuses, such as extra health, or even unlimited ammo.
Though the wings have been clipped, the multiplayer is just as good, if not better, than the rest of the game. Currently, up to six players can play through four modes in Ad Hoc play. All are standards for the genre – deathmatch, team deathmatch, assault, and capture the flag.
If the developer is to be believed, additional maps, and Infrastructure Wi-Fi support will be added at a later date. That will end up being an impressive game patch!
The six included maps are large, so the more people you have to play against, the better. It would have been nice to see one or two smaller maps.
Another feature that would be welcome is true game sharing. As it stands, you can only transfer three single-player missions to another PSP.
This game is another console quality experience in portable form. Playing co-op through the entire campaign is a great way to kill time. Single-player challenges and Ad Hoc multiplayer deathmatches round out this sci-fi shooter.
It is a shame that Wi-Fi play was not included “out of the box,” but the prospect of a future download is great. I would have rather seen the feature part of this well polished package, however.
Killzone: Liberation is a sometimes frustrating experience, but in the end it is a rewarding challenge.
Killzone: Liberation is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Language, Violence.Powered by Sidelines