It’s been a long march to Killzone: Mercenary’s Sept. 10 release on the PlayStation Vita, but those eager to get boots on the virtual ground won’t have to wait quite that long to give the game’s multiplayer component a test run. A closed beta launched today and, later this month, the developers will be opening the beta up to anyone wishing jump in.

Above, Guerilla Cambridge higher-ups talk about Killzone: Mercenary’s online modes, a four-on-four affair that sees players battling across the war-scarred Helghast landscape in a constant struggle for control and power. I had the opportunity to dive into a few round of multiplayer during E3 this year and walked away cautiously optimistic. I say “cautiously” not because of anything I experienced, even though additional players on the map certainly wouldn’t have been a problem, but rather because, up until this point, FPS fans have been pretty well burned on the Vita.

While I quite enjoyed the single player campaign of Resistance: Burning Skies, the vocal majority seemed to be unimpressed with the Vita’s first FPS to drop in 2012. And then there was Call of Duty: Black Ops- Declassified, which most seem to like to pretend didn’t even exist.

Taking Killzone: Mercenary online a couple of months ago was a lot of fun. It wasn’t as big and explosive as the console counterparts, but what I got to experience certainly felt like a huge step in the right direction.

A couple of weeks ago I also had the opportunity to try out the game’s single player campaign in the form of a one-level demo. Once again, I walked away feeling like I was playing a console-grade shooter in the palm of my hands. Like multiplayer, Mercenary’s single player didn’t feel quite as epic as its console versions, but don’t take that to mean that it wasn’t a big, beautiful FPS that controlled well and was a heck of a lot of fun to play.

Now even more folks are getting to try out the multiplayer for themselves, so expect to see even more impressions in the coming weeks as the ISA and Helghast armies start waging war online. Beta sign-ups began mid-July and, according to a recent post on the PlayStation Blog, the closed beta was officially launched this morning.

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re missing out, though. As stated in the blog post, the multiplayer beta is going to open up to all comers in late August, meaning you’ll have a chance to jump in and try it out before the Sept. 10 launch date no matter what. Well, you’ll need to own a Vita, of course. But other than that, you should be good to go.

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