Before we even begin to talk Killzone 3 multiplayer specifics there has to be some honesty shared. It’s undeniably true that the PS3, and the Playstation brand in general, has long had woefully inadequate online gameplay functionality. There are a myriad number of reasons for this, but they’re unimportant. The truth is that for my online play sessions I’ve only put serious effort in Modern Warfare 2 on PS3, and it was one of the most horrific experiences I can remember.

So that is where I’m coming from as I jump into a marquee title’s multiplayer beta for the PS3. Additionally I’ve missed out on everything Killzone, having never even played a single moment from either of the previous games. After getting my feet wet, learning a little about what was up with the game, and now fully engaged with the KZ3 beta I have every intention of returning to what is evidently one of Sony’s most solid and polished shooter series.

The beta comes with just three maps, but developer Guerrilla has apparently given players access to every class available and a large portion of the perks. All of the classes are available at the start, so there’s no need to trudge through as a medic if you really just want to be a marksman. Instead you have to earn the various perks from each class. The XP system is familiar to those who’ve played Call of Duty, with kills getting you 100 points and an assist garnering 25. KZ3 has it’s own system, but it’ll be familiar to most online veterans.

I don’t know if the alternate control scheme has always been around in the series, but it’s a blessing here. In what world is it cool to use a click of the right stick to toggle between zoom/iron sights and hip spraying? Thank god I had the option to switch it so that L1 was zoom, R1 was shoot, and the right stick was melee.

There’s nothing Guerrilla could do to improve the feel of the PS3 controller for a shooter, so instead they just make the game feel amazing. The screen always displays “Alpha Code,” so when you hit a glitch you remember this is an early build. But I think the guys at Guerrilla have a different definition of Alpha than I do, because KZ3 runs like most finished games with a few framerate issues and glitches. There’s slickness to the way CoD feels as you play around with “real” weaponry. While Killzone 3 appears to work in the same areas, the reality is that the sound and feel of guns in the beta feel heavily weighted and rough. It’s like a perfect balance of trying to feel realistic and still providing a fun experience. One of the biggest issues those of us have after playing Halo for years is that there’s a slight arcade like quality to the rock/paper/scissors system. That does not exist (as far as I’ve seen) with KZ3’s multiplayer beta.

The maps themselves are a marvel to look at in this early build form. In fact sometimes I wonder if there’s supposed to be more movement and animation because of how detailed everything is. Not to mention the lighting effects as you run through blizzard like conditions into a hallway with a light at the end, only to realize one second too late an enemy is dead center in your blind spot. It’ll piss you off the first dozen times. I screamed initially that there was some major bullshit going on with the game. Then I realized what was happening, was impressed, and then utilized the light and environment to set my own traps.

Finally are the gametypes. Guerrilla Warfare is your standard Deathmatch type game where you have a time limit, kill goal, and your team tries to kill the enemy more than they die. Simple. Everyone loves this mode, although I’ve never understood the appeal of the mode other than some map learning practice and honing your shooting skills. Then there’s Operations, which pits the Helghast vs the ISA in a multileveled attack and defense game. The Helghast has to defend the damn while the ISA team attacks. The biggest problem is that after each match is over and you respawn to start again you’ll always be whatever you first joined as. So if you join as Helghast you won’t be able to play as the attacking ISA unless you leave the game entirely and rejoin a different game in progress. Even then there’s no guarantee, and you’ve also lost the team you’ve become familiar with.

Last on the list is Warzone. Killzone 3 is doing nothing revolutionary for the shooter genre. Honestly it just does a lot of what we’ve seen before at a higher and more polished level. But Warzone is Guerrilla Games’ mark on gaming, and it’s one that needs to be included genre wide because it’s about the most entertaining and creative gametypes ever devised. There are no breaks between rounds, no resets, and no redos. Warzone is multiple matches all rolled into one epic encounter. One minute you’re engaged in chaotic battle to protect an asset from destruction by the enemy, then you move on to trying to assassinate an enemy target, then you’re the target and trying to stay alive. It just goes on and on in this ever expanding game of war that is exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I know because I actually fell asleep at about 3am one night after being in a Warzone game for 15 minutes.

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