Co-op is another feature that players expect, and after missing the boat with Killzone 2, it makes a long overdue debut here. The results are mixed, quite frankly. Available in offline split-screen mode only, it already falls short of the co-operative experiences being offered elsewhere, and doesn't always show off its own assets in the best way. Co-op also struggles to work with the numerous on-rails sections, but finds its footing in the more traditional FPS stages. Guerilla knows how to craft expansive battlefields without losing sight of linear progression, so there are always multiple ways for playmates to flank and flush out the enemy.
As is often the case with shooters these days, it's online multiplayer where it all falls into place. Freed from the constraints of story, Killzone 3's more nimble controls fit snugly with genre standards and the different ways of playing strike a pleasing balance between what you expect and what you'd hope to see.
Warzone mode is much as you remember, shuffling up different game types in an ongoing buffet of team-based slaughter. The new maps make excellent use of the already varied pathways included for single-player, but widened and tweaked with additional tunnels, vantage points and rat runs. The location-hopping also proves more beneficial here than in the rather disjointed story, giving the eight available maps a nice spread of palettes and weather effects. Party Play is also supported, thank goodness.
Changes have also been made to the career progression. Unlock points are handed out with each new level attained, and can then be used to open up new abilities in any of the different combat classes. Even novice players should be able to hit Level 10 without too much trouble, which grants enough points to max out at least one class. This freedom to chop and change from one class to another without locking yourself into one track makes it easier to try playing the game in different ways, and encourages more experimentation.
Guerilla Warfare is a new addition to the online menu, though it's really just a short, sharp dose of Team Deathmatch. Strange to think such a basic feature is only just making an appearance in Killzone, but it's worth having for the frag-happy killer in a hurry. Operations Mode is more interesting, teasing out a short-form multiplayer story with one team of eight playing as an ISA commando team, with the others cast as Helghast forces out to stop them. Played out over short objective-based sessions, with unique cut-scenes linking them together, it's a fun diversion that ultimately makes the omission of online co-op more disappointing.
The game also supports 3D and Move play, both of which work extremely well. The 3D is particularly impressive, offering subtle gradations of depth and intelligently layering HUD info over the top. It doesn't really add anything to the gameplay, but it ramps up the wow factor and will certainly justify any expensive TV purchases you might be planning to make.
Move gameplay is more of an acquired taste, proving to be surprisingly precise and intuitive during normal movement and gunplay with varying levels of automatic target lock. It only shows its limitations when the single-player starts getting all vehicular, and judged as a showcase of how motion control can work in a hardcore FPS environment, it sets a high standard. The proposed assault rifle peripheral looks pretty sweet as well.
Fans of Killzone 2 will love the improved multiplayer, but may find that the single-player side of things has lost a lot of its identity. It's always polished and breathlessly paced, but it no longer offers a distinct change of pace from the rest of the shooter herd. Killzone 3 is a powerful, impressive game that sets an imposing standard for Sony's 3D, Move-enabled future output; it's just a shame that in doing so, it's lost just a little of what made the series stand out in the first place.
Struggling with the game? Check out our huge Killzone 3 video walkthrough.