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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews British space Nazis and Killzone 3.

Transcript Edit

Pardon me for being detestably predictable, but I am now going to complain about how all the bad guys in Killzone are British, because someone should get pissed off about this and it might as well be me. I stood up for the Russians when I reviewed all those Cold War fantasist wank games, and I don't even know any Russians. I'm fine with that thing where the big villain is a posh British guy because let's face it, cooing at rainbows sounds evil when you do it in a posh British accent. It's only when you make all the evil soldiers Cockneys that you enter the prejudiced parade. Cockney doesn't sound evil, it sounds honest and cheeky chips lovable. You couldn't picture Dick van Dyke hiding in the bushes in a park popping children's balloons with a blowpipe.

You might say I'm making too much of a fuss, but someone on the dev team at some point said to themselves: "We have a race whose every individual member is so morally bankrupt that players will feel perfectly justified in splattering them painfully against the scenery. Now, how do we bring that across as a sort of vocal shorthand?" And the most bitter pill to swallow is that they look like Nazis. We helped defeat the Nazis! Maybe we won't next time, America. Maybe after China buys you and puts you all to work in the sweatshops and you crawl to Europe for help, we'll go: "Hmm, well, we would, but apparently we're evil, so hands tied."

All right, I think I'm okay now.

Killzone 3 is, stupidly, the fourth installment of the Killzone series, which documents the future space war between the heroic ISA - ooh, nice, changed one letter. Good to see you're learning subtlety at last - and the evil Helghast, a former colony who imperialistically invade planets, mistreat prisoners, and constantly make themselves out as the injured party. Project much?

You know, it's pretty clear to me why the Helghast have the edge in this war; it's because the ISA is the most badly run military organization since the 47th Light-Armoured Cat-Herding Brigade. Their attitude seems to be "do whatever the fuck you want and it'd peachy if that happened to roughly coincide with your orders but don't sweat it." I lost count of how many times characters blatantly defied orders and earned nothing worse than a stern look. That's how the entire plot kicks off, and no one seems to care. Towards the end, the impression I get is the main characters finally start following their immediate superior's orders not out of fear of court-martial but because they suspect they might be hurting the guy's feelings.

Anyway, let it never be said that I'm some ignorant loom-smashing Luddite, because I started playing Killzone 3 not only with the Playstation Move controls but also with the 3D option on my new massive 3D TV that I bought with all my ad-revenue money - much obliged, Internet.

The motion controls didn't last ten minutes. After calibrating - calibrating? Fuck, starting a game these days is like starting up a fucking cruise liner - the aim was wavery and difficult, I didn't know where they'd moved all the buttons to, and my big red glowing controller was reflecting in the screen and giving people hilarious clown noses. So after getting sniped silly for a while that went out the window, and I took up a nice, sensible SIXAXIS, which didn't stop the game throwing in motion-control turny switches whenever it could get away with it.

The 3D held out a bit longer. Yeah, things in the foreground were getting all prominent and shit, but everything from the middle distance on looked like a big, flat matte backdrop, like the game was taking place in a puppet theatre. After a while I turned it off, and suddenly I was astounded by the detail in a nearby wood texture now that I wasn't wearing those stupid glasses. Things ten feet away stopped popping in all the time and my dog came back to life, so fuck modern technology right in its cutting edge. Ow.

But even after switching to a proper heterosexual controller, my problems didn't end there. You know how most games assign the action of pulling the trigger on your gun to those big flappy trigger-like buttons down the front, for rather self-evident reasons? Killzone 3 wanted to be bolder than that and assigned it to R1, the shoulder button that I always think would be better suited to a game where you stand behind someone and tweak their nipples. Fortunately, this can be changed in the options, but what can't be changed is that the left trigger is for crouching and R3 is for aiming when usually it's the other way around, because R3 is kind of a temperamental bitch and you're gonna need to aim a hell of lot more than you need to crouch.

And on the subject of controls, there's a very strange issue with the melee attack in that it seems to have a delay. I swing my rifle butt at a wooden door and it doesn't actually break until half a second later. Either the physics programmer needed a few more slaps or my character's ineffectual flail with his rifle butt was so pathetic that the door felt kind of bad for him.

Getting back to crouching, perhaps the reason why it's been promoted to a shoulder button is because it pulls double-duty as the cover system. If you crouch by cover and the stars are aligned properly then your manly pecs will attach you to the cover like a pair of sink plungers, and you can start doing the "peek out and shoot" thing. Now, I appreciate that it's hard to be flexible when you're wearing more pouches than a kangaroo in cargo shorts, but maybe you wouldn't have so many bullet facial piercings if you did more than just bend your knees slightly when I ask you to crouch.

You see, if it's absolutely necessary that you be in first-person, and if it would also completely break your little heart to have to cut out the cover system as well, then you are going to run into the problem that a large percentage of the game will be spent with the screen filled by a close-up of the texture of the nearest chest-high wall. Killzone 3 attempts to get around this by having your character rest his chin on top of the cover like the juiciest coconut in the shy. I know that the interminable prevalence of cover-based shooting is a bugbear of mine, but it remains tolerable as long as it actually works. Relying on cover in this game is about as risk-free as working a sausage-slicing machine with your flies unzipped.

If you're so determined to enjoy yourself that you can get past all the above issues, it's a nondescript shooter broken up by the odd cocktease. They give you a jetpack at one point, which for me is like letting your dog guard the sausage-slicing machine while you're in hospital, but all it really does is make you jump twice as high and make you a slightly easier target. And then there's the bit where everyone jumps into a fighter ship for a bit of space combat, but it just turns out to be a rail-shooter section, and if you don't shoot down every target without fault while the driver practices his handbrake turns then you'll be doing these sections quite a few times, matey.

What strikes me as oddest about Killzone 3 is that a game with such embarrasing amounts of Sony cash behind it - designed to showcase all the fancy new technology that would bewitch the wallets of those overburdened with disposable income - should make so many rookie mistakes in the core gameplay. But then again, maybe that's exactly why. Maybe they couldn't see the crater where the woods used to be for the smoldering remains of the trees.

AddendaEdit

Entire fish supper on his shoulder: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw

I guess the ISA works under the old Starfleet rule that if you disobey orders everyone's just kind of OK with it if things turn out alright

Would you like to see my bugbear collection


ScreenshotsEdit

Killzone 3 2

The 47th Light-Armoured Cat-Herding Brigade

Killzone 3 3

I lost count of how many times characters blatantly defied orders and earned nothing more than a stern look

Killzone 3 4

Relying on cover in this game is about as risk-free as working a sausage-slicing machine with your flies unzipped

External LinksEdit

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2007 - 2010
2007
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2008
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2009
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2010
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Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
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2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
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2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
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2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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