(PlayStation Vita)

Killzone: Mercenary (PlayStation Vita)

Game Review

Killzone: Mercenary Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sammy Barker

The price is right

We may be on the cusp of a new console generation, but we’d be surprised if any of the PlayStation 4’s launch window titles made a bigger visual impression than Killzone: Mercenary. The hotly anticipated spin-off from the recently restructured Guerrilla Cambridge is a sensory showstopper, pushing the PlayStation Vita’s underexplored hardware further than it’s ever ventured before. While titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified and Resistance: Burning Skies have made iffy arguments in favour of first-person shooters finding a home on Sony’s supercharged handheld, the British-based studio’s return to the Alpha Centauri system peppers any previous attempts with an impassioned round of StA-52 assault rifle fire. This is a technological tour de force – and a considerately constructed action game to boot.

You play as a customarily chumpish combat conduit named Arran Danner, a rough-and-ready gun-for-hire allied with the Phantom Talon Corps, a semi-shady mercenary unit fronted by the rugged Commander Anders Benoit. Employed by the familiar faction the ISA, the protagonist is sent on a suicide mission to assist in the liberation of a war-torn Vekta, kickstarting a rebellion which sees the beleaguered bloc push back against its iconic extraterrestrial adversaries, and take its intergalactic war to the Helghast’s home planet. The campaign runs in parallel to many of the most memorable moments from the trilogy, adding flavour to some of the series’ biggest plot points.

The fact that you fight for a finance-fuelled firm augments ample opportunity for copious story twists, and consequentially there’s more bickering and backstabbing – both figuratively and literally – than a reality TV show throughout the course of the exclusive’s five hour adventure. It’s a largely predictable affair, with none of the characters – aside from the exaggerated Eastern European underground market trader Blackjack – breaking free from the boring bug that infected Sev, Narville, and the vast majority of the series’ console cast. Fortunately, the narrative does delve a little deeper into the idea that the ISA may not be quite as ethical as previous instalments have painted them, exploring a sliver of the enormous pool of backstory that fuels the franchise.

It’s not necessarily an outstanding piece of fiction, but it does provide the backdrop for nine single player missions, which will see you traipsing through the vibrant skylines of Vekta and the murky corridors of Helghan. While the series has been criticised for its miserable makeup in the past, this spin-off subscribes to the Killzone: Shadow Fall school of thinking, meandering between oversaturated cityscapes and oppressive underworlds swifter than a poorly piloted ISA Intruder. There’s a decent range of locales, many of which are repurposed throughout the multiplayer mode to maximise map diversity. You’ll visit a run-down fishing village, a neon-infused marketplace, and an Orwellian judicial department. The disparate environments add variety to the campaign, and really make you feel like you’re always exploring somewhere fresh and exotic. This is aided by an outstanding art direction, which gives the universe a sense of believability. It’s an impressive achievement for a handheld game.

And as already alluded, the technological accomplishments are staggering. Guerrilla Cambridge has not just created a game that masquerades as a PlayStation 3 title, but could actually pass as one. The subtleties in texture work, lighting, and post-processing effects are comparable to a full-scale console release, and run in native resolution on the handheld’s super sharp OLED display. Some of the visual tricks are nothing short of mind-boggling, with lighting reflecting naturally on rain-slicked tarmac, and gunfire illuminating dark corridors with each pull of the trigger. It’s sensational, and is so impressive that it even puts launch window titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Unit 13 to shame. The only real disappointment is that the framerate does hitch when the action gets hectic or the game autosaves, but this is an ignorable issue for the most part, even if it does persist throughout the entirety of the campaign.

Whether you notice it or not, the action is enjoyable throughout. Firing meaty machine guns has always been the hallmark of Guerrilla Games’ sci-fi series, and Killzone: Mercenary captures that aspect with ease. The trademark heft of previous entries is subdued ever so slightly in this instalment, opting for a more pacey style that sits somewhere closer to the franchise’s upcoming PS4 follow-up. That doesn’t mean that the weapons aren’t fun to fire, though, with punchy sound design and excellent recoil animations augmenting each firearm in the exclusive’s artillery with a brutal appeal. There’s plenty to choose from, too, with dozens of submachine guns, snipers, sidearms, and shotguns available in both multiplayer and single player. These are purchased using cash that you earn as you play, and once unlocked can be incorporated into your loadouts in either mode.

As the title indicates, money factors heavily into the experience. You can purchase anything from the offset, as long as you’ve got the funds to fuel your desires. You earn cash by killing enemies, completing objectives, surpassing medal criteria, and scoring highly in online matches. In addition to splashing out on new weapons, you can also purchase grenades, armour, and Vanguards. The latter items are rechargeable power-ups that work a little like perks, allowing you to deploy drones that electrocute your enemies, jam communication channels, and rain down fury on your foes. That these can be employed in both single player and multiplayer implements some interesting strategies, though some options are inherently more useful than others. You will develop attachments to certain types of equipment, but the solo mode at least forces you to experiment.

While the campaign will take you around five hours to complete on the standard difficulty setting, it’s designed with replayability in mind. Much like in Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye 007, there are alternative objectives that you can tackle for each of the game’s nine missions. These can be attempted on different difficulty tiers, and demand that you approach each mission in a unique way. You may be forced to use a sniper rifle, for example, and land a specific number of headshots, or complete a mission in a designated timeframe without being detected. These challenges really highlight the variety that’s built into each mission – you can approach combat scenarios in many different ways, including stealth – and add an enormous amount of replay value to the core solo experience. That the stages can be completed in around 30 minutes also makes them perfect for bitesized play sessions, though the fact that you’re forced to watch lengthy cutscenes each time you boot up a new level will start to grate after a while.

All of your progress is tracked by the game, and represented by a Valour card. This is reassigned daily, and can increase and decrease depending on your performance. If you’ve fared particularly well online, for example, you’ll score a higher class of card – the suit is determined by your preferred weapon type – making you more valuable to the other players. Killing an opponent will prompt them to drop their card, which you can then snatch for a cash bonus. Of course, if you’re carrying a higher value card, then that makes you a priority target, giving the game a nice balance. Any cards that you do collect can be used to form decks, but it’s a shame that these can’t be traded with friends and strangers via Near.

It’s also unfortunate that you can’t do more with your escalating wealth. While there are plenty of weapons to keep you occupied, you will reach a point where you feel like you’ve got a good range of firearms and accessories. You can’t purchase upgrades for any of the guns – there are no scopes or attachments for you to invest in – and the reward loop can feel a little flat as a consequence. A side mode where you use your finances to purchase shares and send your recruits on missions a la Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood would have been appreciated, especially when you feel like furthering your progress without engaging in any first-person action. Unfortunately, there’s nothing like that in the game.

Still, the online component is addictive enough. There are three modes to choose from: Mercenary Warfare, Guerrilla Warfare, and Warzone. Each playlist supports up to eight players, with the latter offering the same rotating combat objectives as its predecessors. Here you’ll cycle between different mini-missions, which require you to kill your counterparts, collect Valour cards, and occassionally cross-examine your foes. Injuring an enemy allows you to initiate an interrogation, which can be achieved using a tranquiliser or landing a few non-fatal shots. You’ll need to swipe the touchscreen to complete these sequences, but the animations can be a bit drawn out – particularly in single player – leaving you unfairly vulnerable when you execute the finisher.

Warzone is definitely the most enjoyable mode available in the multiplayer suite, but the nature of these matches mean that they can drag on for 20 minutes or longer. As such, if you’re looking for a more condensed experience, Mercenary Warfare – which is essentially free-for-all – and Guerrilla Warfare – an alternative name for Team Deathmatch – serve as better options. All of the playlists are buoyed by slick netcode, and we never experienced any instances of lag, though this is obviously going to depend on your connection.

Perhaps most impressive is that the game retains its visual flair online, with all of the maps maintaining the variety and environmental fidelity of the core campaign. The stages are quite small, and subsequently ensure that firefights are fairly enclosed, but this makes sense given the rather slender player count. Unfortunately, this renders a lot of the long-range weapons unnecessary, as you’re more likely to find yourself sprinting around the battlefield directing submachine gun fire at anything that dares to cross your path. There are a few open stretches on the Inlet and Refinery maps that make distance engagements a possibility, but given the accuracy of many of the assault rifles, you’ll probably find yourself plumping up for one of those rather than assuming the role of a true sniper.

It’s a minor niggle, though, in a game that achieves almost everything that it sets out to do. The only real disappointment is that in focusing on creating a best-in-class first-person experience on a format that’s been forced to make do with disappointing imitators up until now, Guerrilla Cambridge hasn’t really done anything to distance the title from the dozens of comparative experiences already available on consoles. Granted, there’s a novelty attached to stabbing enemies in the face while you’re sitting on the train, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that you’ll have seen much of what the game has to offer on a television screen before.

Conclusion

Killzone: Mercenary would be worth its pay packet on the PS3, but Guerrilla Cambridge deserves a bonus for squeezing the adventure onto the Vita. The game may struggle to shrug off the gameplay staples that have plagued its parent genre over the past few years, but it still sits in a salary bracket several tiers above its portable first-person peers. Graphically astounding and packing some serious online firepower, this is the high-budget handheld hit that you’ve been waiting for.

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User Comments (56)

Sanquine

#1

Sanquine said:

So, it gets an 8 for a frame drop ( UNcharted golden abyss is on major framedrop) and a story that is better than killzone 3 story? Hmm, pitchforks ^^

No sorry i really disagree. Played the beta from the beginning when i released for plus and had it yesterday ( played the whole day) and the framerate issues come to mind when there where a lot of enemies on the screen with explosions. The story is better than what i have seen in killzone 3 ( bland story). For a portable title it's a must have ! With a 8 it's a great game but not a musthave. For that in the first time of history i strongly disagree with the review.

Another piece of proof: the vita is a punch bag for reviewers. Always compare it to console games but whenever some game is better than a console game you hear the sentence: Been there done that.

BTW i know it's an opinion but i just so strongly disagree.

ZeD

#2

ZeD said:

I cannot wait to get this. Frame rate drops do not bother me (heck I don't even notice it in Jak & Daxter!). I loved the multiplayer and cannot wait to start building my valour cards back up!

Chozo85

#5

Chozo85 said:

Thanks for the review Sammy! I think most vita owners have been looking forward to this one and it is a relief to hear that it is a triumpth. It's great that the Vita finally has a worthy FPS after the rush jobs of Resistance and COD. Guerrilla Cambridge deserves praise for creating a PS3 comparable experience. A five hour campaign is perhaps a little on the short side but with levels focused on replayability and online multiplayer, I anticipate this being in my vita for some time.

Gamer83

#6

Gamer83 said:

Looking forward to playing it. Great review. Doesn't sound like it breaks new ground but it does sound like a good FPS on a portable and that's something I've waited a long time for.

get2sammybAdmin

#7

get2sammyb said:

@Sanquine Glad you're really enjoying it. Please remember than an 8/10 (on our scale) is 'Very Good', and is very much a "must have" if you're a fan of Killzone, first-person shooters, or looking for something meaty on the handheld. The only thing that stopped me from going higher is the fact that, while very good, the game doesn't really do anything to carve out its own identity. It's very much a first-person shooter on a portable, which is totally awesome (in my opinion), but not enough to score any higher than an 8. Hopefully that makes sense.

@ZeD You can hardly notice the frame rate drops. As @sanquine says, it's not a big deal.

@Chozo85 Thanks for reading. Yeah, you could definitely play this for a long, long time. There's plenty to do, even if you can see the story off quite quickly. There's plenty of incentive to do so, too, because the game is very fun to play.

@Gamer83 Thanks for reading. That's pretty much spot on, yeah. Hope you enjoy the game! :)

Sanquine

#8

Sanquine said:

@get2sammyb. Fair enough. I see the value of an 8 but many dont. Friends of mine buy everything above 9. Nothing below it! This grade system is a problem for the industry. Thanks for feedback

that is the reason i had a rant. I want this game selling well.

fchinaski

#9

fchinaski said:

@Sanquine Wait, people buy games solely based on other people's scores? Frankly, I use reviews as an in-depth look on games that interest me. A review only detracts me from buying a game that was already on my radar if it proves that it's really flawed and not at all what it seems to be. My personal taste dictates what I'm buying, not reviews. Oh, and I fully appreciate the value of the work of reviewers, especially good ones like the one's here and on Nintendo Life, basically the only ones that I take seriously.

ZeD

#10

ZeD said:

It is such a tease having this game sitting on my Vita! Got to wait until the 6th! :(

TheEmerlLad

#11

TheEmerlLad said:

Very awesome Review. It was just how I expect for it's final rating to be. This defiantly be the beginning of the solid FPS handhelds. Especially with PS4 cross-platform on the way. Vita owners are really getting their money's worth now!

8vpiper

#12

8vpiper said:

@Sanquine So should I call off the villages?? they have pitchforks torches and everything ;) lol I was so hoping for a 9! I have not played any of the betas deciding to rather keep my virginity :D Cant wait for Friday!

Edit: Just saw someone gave it a 5.5/10 I was like WTF! (sorry fanboy here, apologies ) Don't know if I'm allowed to quote but that review even bashes the VITA not just the game??

KALofKRYPTON

#14

KALofKRYPTON said:

I've been in on the mp beta from the start, it was never going to disappoint, it is a shame that the review rests on the 'same as on home consoles/nothing new' sentiment. It's very new for Vita.

pikku

#15

pikku said:

I find it funny that you seem impressed with the fact that this game's visual's match launch titles for the Vita which came out nearly a year ago, haha.

Seriously though, I'm tempted to buy a Vita just for this game. I'm probably going to hold out until Black Friday, because there are probably going to be some killer deals this year :D

Savino

#16

Savino said:

8 is my top score for shooters! None deserve more that!
With that said, I will buy this in a heartbeat!

MadchesterManc

#18

MadchesterManc said:

Was gonna get this Friday but I bought a 3DS yesterday n today I got Project Diva F so Ive not got the money too :( (£100+ in 2 days is overkill spending for me) Also wouldn't mind Atelier Meruru+ as well lol Have barely any decent releases n then too many spring up over the next couple of weeks

@get2sammyb How would you say this fares when lined up next to Killzone3. If my memory serves me right KZ3 got a perfect 10, so is this not as good? Mercenarys has seemed interesting from what Ive read n the Beta was really good considering.

Visiblemode

#19

Visiblemode said:

I feel like some reviewers are targetting the Vita or the concept of portability. 8/10 is a solid score, but if trends continue this game won't break 80% on Metacritic and I have a feeling that's a shame.

Gemuarto

#20

Gemuarto said:

They need to make 8-bit like indie Killzone, only then reviewers will give it more than 80% on metacritic =).

get2sammybAdmin

#21

get2sammyb said:

@MadchesterManc Well, I didn't review Killzone 3. I personally think that that's a better game, but it's hard to compare them directly. As a console release, K3 was all about spectacle, whereas Mercenary is a little more narrow in focus - but obviously still mind-blowing considering the hardware.

BornOfEvil

#23

BornOfEvil said:

@Savino There are a plethora of shooters that deserve a score higher than 8, you're just letting your bias do the talking.

@Visiblemode Yeah, I agree. For example whenever IGN reviews a Vita game, the fact that it's not "bitesized" usually earns it a lower score or tons of complaints - yet a 3DS game that isn't bitesized doesn't seem to bother them at all.

Visiblemode

#27

Visiblemode said:

@Lelouch yeah this concept baffles me. When a vita game manages a console experience, it gets panned for not being "bitesized", as you said. Then when it delivers bitesized games it gets panned for "failing to deliver on the promise of true console gaming experiences."

I honestly think the Vita is getting betrayed by those who should be it's best allies- the gaming media. Finally a company is delivering what we've all asked for and instead of celebrating what it is, the media obsessing on what it isn't.

My primary theory is that most mobile gamers are Nintendo loyalists. This comes from N's long and well earned history as a giant of mobile gaming. It just frustrates me that you can play Uncharted, Gravity Rush and now Killzone anywhere you go and the response is so muted, yet people get giddy waiting in line for another Mario side scroller (which are good, but not the point.)

The spoiled gaming media has to wake up and start rewarding the level
of quality being produced for the system or else people will continue to believe bs like "the Vita still has no games" When it had a better launch lineup than almost any console and continues to bloom. If that happens gamers-products like Vita will fade away and the handheld market will slip back into complacency:

Not directed at you or this review btw @get2sammyb

get2sammybAdmin

#29

get2sammyb said:

@Visiblemode I think the reviews for this have been really good on the whole. There have been a few outliers — that's the opinion of those sites — but there have been a lot of good ones, too. Which is awesome, because I think this is a very good game.

Gemuarto

#30

Gemuarto said:

On 3DS, game like this will get 51 out of 10 on metacritic. But we need to wait for majors like IGN, gamespot. Maybe they add some extra that game deserves. One way or another, it is best portable FPS ever. Maybe even best Killzone game ever =).

Gemuarto

#31

Gemuarto said:

I really liked Killzone: Liberation, though. Sony needs to make Liberation 2 or something like that. With two sticks it can be a blast. I want more Killzone, but in different genre. And it can be pretty cheap in development compared to FPS. Liberation was so satisfying, almost like Hotline Miami.

Visiblemode

#32

Visiblemode said:

@Fruitbat1919 thanks man.

...and while I'm on a rant, I'm going to add something about game length.

Firstly, all genres have their sweet spots, and I'm completely fed up of reviewers complaining about shooters being too short. The scripted shooter genre should be on the short side, otherwise it's full of tons of boring filler.

That said, my main beef is with reviewers, estimating, exaggerating or even worse extracting game length info from other reviews of the game. I know that it's probably difficult to platinum every game that comes across your desk when you review for a living but I see a disturbing trend of collective thought forming.

This is most evident with regards to game-length-moaning. Firstly, I've probably played as many games to completion as many of the reviewers working today, yet they state play times that are often easily 25-50% faster than mine. Bear in mind I'm not failing at levels or dawdling. So what gives? They must be robots.

I honestly believe that some reviewers are speedrunning games, maybe even skipping cutscenes and major, but optional, gameplay elements to produce these estimates. Others are trying to seem heroic I guess "only took me 8 hours" for a freaking 12-14 hour game.

Now to the worst bit. Review copying. I think TONS of reviews out there are done like many of high schools worst essays. They are rewordings of the big site's offerings. It's one of the things I like about this site, in that the reviews come across as unique and considered. That can't be said for a lot of sites out there.

A good example of of how this can get out of hand is with a game like horribly flawed Call of Duty Declassified. I played through the story on 2 star (cause, thanks to the game design, setting sights on 3 stars would have been extremely irritating.) I don't know how long it ultimately took me, but probably a couple of hours altogether, factoring in a few levels I had to replay (which is part of game length...only ordinarily not such a big factor, for shame Nstigate) However in every subsequent review for the game, the single player experience got shorter and shorter. No joke some reviews claimed the game provided 20-30 minutes of gameplay. Break out the egg timer boys, you're full of it. The game was too short and too bad, but stop obsessing about length over quality and stop taking other reviewer's playtime and subtracting 10 minutes...by the last copycat the game ends up being -3hours.

Again, none of this is directed at this site, I love it here.

Visiblemode

#33

Visiblemode said:

@Gemuarto Yeah I agree about Killzone Liberation being awesome. I think there's room for that aspect of the franchise on the Vita too.

Visiblemode

#34

Visiblemode said:

@get2sammyb yeah, just not quite what'd I'd hoped. I'm sure I'll love it, but Vita needs a 90%+ AAA on Metacritic to hang it's hat on. I just want the platform to succceed.

Gemuarto

#36

Gemuarto said:

@Visiblemode I believe Press Versions of the games often have options to skip levels, unlimited ammo and setera. In times when first Killzone came out, one guy who reviewed it, told about that on forums. Also, he admitted that he played it like for two hours.

@KALofKRYPTON Whatever =)

get2sammybAdmin

#38

get2sammyb said:

@Gemuarto I've never, ever received a review code (even on debug) that's enabled infinite ammo or level skip. I'm pretty sure that's very, very rare - if it ever happens at all.

Gemuarto

#39

Gemuarto said:

@get2sammyb Maybe it was like that in PS2 era. I mean, there were things like gameshark, for example,I really belive that guy. Thanks for inside info, though =).

LDXD

#42

LDXD said:

Wow people worry waaaaay to much about review scores these days good lord man

3Above

#43

3Above said:

I hear there is a 1.1 gb day one patch for killzone mercenary, does that download to memory card or the game card?

Party_Cannon

#44

Party_Cannon said:

I like this site.. I really do, but I find that reviews are far too nestled into the "very good, but I don't want to say great" 8/10 comfort zone for Vita. I took a look at the recent reviews here..
Killzone: Mercenaries 8/10
Kickbeat: 8/10
Spelunky 8/10
Dragons Crown 8/10
Real Boxing 8/10
Open Me 8/10
... the only thing you've actually given a 9/10 to is Pixeljunk Monsters HD. A game which, while fun, is something I've played on the PS3 and PSP quite a long time ago.

While Killzone's failure to get a 9 is only because its failure to do anything to carve its own identity? Do any shooters do that nowadays? The monetary incentives sound like XP rewards in an RPG. That sounds rather ingenious and unlike other shooters when you discuss an attempt at an identity niche.
The fact that this tiny handheld is running something like this should be rewarded on it's own merits and the sum of its parts, not some lofty goals of identity.
I believe that, due to the sum of its parts and the overall lack of anything so polished and console-like on the Vita, a 9/10 would have been satisfying to readers.
Just my opinion, and I realise that all these reviews are just opinions ... but Killzone Mercenaries is good enough to get a higher score on the vita. Maybe not if it was on PS3.. but on a Vita, when weighed against the small library showing what this machine can do..... K:M stands out as both a technical achievement as well as a few -and far FAR between - milestone in the promised "portable console experience" the Vita was promised to have.

Sutorcen

#45

Sutorcen said:

Aaahhh the eternal quest of “trying to understand reviews and reviewers”. Guys, the reviews are personal opinions and as such highly subjective. All we need to know as gamers is that this game looks great, handles great, the gameplay is right and you will get your money's worth. In the end the best reviewer is you.

INFO: The game's size is 3.3GB for any of you who want to buy the digital copy.

Visiblemode

#46

Visiblemode said:

@Party_Cannon yeah, I do suspect that after people have more time with the rpg elements and the patch or patches settle in to address the tech issues, this will be one of those games people look back on and say "oh yeah, it only had a 77% average, it was underrated." Besides, if you drop the lowest score, a ridiculous 55%, and calculate the average it would currently sit at 79.95% and that is effectively an 80%. Not saying people aren't entitled
to their opinion but some reviews really to compromise a game's legacy for their
own vanity.

Has anyone noticed that the reviews are overwhelmingly positive for this game? Yet it sits lower than tons of games with "fun but flawed" reviews?

I know it's only reviews, but hell the Vita deserves a game that gets it's due.

NowGamer, the reviewer that gave it this awful score that brought it below 80, has gives an average score of 73 over the course of 76 reviews. So Killzone mercenary is 18% points worse than the AVERAGE game they review and 25% points worse than the average Mercenary score, minus theirs? It's just irresponsible.

Fruitbat1919

#47

Fruitbat1919 said:

If I was to be the type of guy that believed in conspiracy theories, then mine would be 'The Governments of the World unit to destroy Vita'!

I currently have a nice selection of Vita, PSP, PS1 and Mobile games on my Vita....about 100 or so games....some bite sized, some 'AAA' or so they call them. Yet the game world seems convinced there are 'NO GAMES ON VITA'!!!

Metacritic listings show plenty of games. Less than the 3DS that has been out longer, but not by many! But the scores! The scores are on average lower than many 3DS games.

So 'NO GAMES ON VITA' is quite obviously false. So...are the games of a lower quality, if the scores are to be believed? I personally chose the Vita over the 3DS this time around (DS over PSP last time), because it has the games I wanted. lots of games....lots of quality games too, in my opinion. This is not to say, that I would not buy a 3DS one day.

Where did the Vita myths come from?

'No games?' - possibly a backlash from the lack of physical games in stores (well next to 3DS games in the UK anyway).

'Poor quality games' - I think this is due to in part Sony advertising along the lines of 'PS3 in pocket' and hence all the games are judged against PS3 games.

Slapshot

#48

Slapshot said:

Great review Sammy-boy! ;)

I downloaded the beta very nonchalantly, only to be floored with what Cambridge Studios has achieved with this release. I promptly went and dropped a preorder on it and your review is only making the wait until Tuesday just that much more difficult. It's pretty bad when you're ready for the weekend to be over and it hasn't even gotten here yet!

moomoo

#49

moomoo said:

@Fruitbat1919 If you already own a PSP and a PS3, the Vita game selection isn't exactly that great... There's a distinct lack of exclusives for the system.

As for the lower Metacritic scores, I think it has less to do with hardware expectations (for the most part) and more about complaints about the design of the game. These games are $40. That's a lot of money, and even the game is technically proficient, if its game design is lacking when compared to its contemporaries on other systems, it will probably be rated lower. Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a good example of this, and Killzone: Mercenary seems to follow that trend. Because unlike sheer graphical sheen, game design likely isn't hampered by the specs of the Vita. Then there's other games where there's some flat out weird design decisions, like the forced touch stuff in Gravity Rush, or the incredibly repetitive nature of Soul Sacrifice.

When it comes to 3DS games getting better review scores... that doesn't seem to be as big of a thing. Yeah, some of them do, like Fire Emblem Awakening (92.52% on Gamerankings) but that's just because they are standout games, regardless of the platform they are. 3DS and Vita seem to do about the same critically. This is less about review scores, and more about how the quantity of exclusives Nintendo has greatly outnumber what the Vita's got on it.

Fruitbat1919

#50

Fruitbat1919 said:

@moomoo Again it is a matter of perception. I do not own a PSP or PS3 and judge the games from owning the handheld only. So for me I could not care less if they are exclusives or not. Do they work on the handheld? For myself they do.

Also cost is relevant, but as I often buy the games when they are in the sales. I've bought many games for less than half their original price (digital and disk). So maybe my expectations are not what others have? I've played many 3DS games too, and while good, I don't see them as superior, just different. Also I think they have adjusted price in the UK, as many new games come out at £30 new, as opposed to £40 when the system was new.

I've played many games on many systems. This gen I had a 360 and played on my friends PS3 and PC. Are people's expectations different between the Vita and 3DS? I believe some of your points may hint at this. Is Soul Sacrifice any more repetitive than Monster Hunter. I have the PSP versions of Monster Hunter, but will admit only having spending a little time with a friends 3DS version. I'm currently playing Soul Sacrifice and yes it is repetitive, but it can be argued it is repetitive, in the same way as Monster Hunter.

Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about a Vita vs 3DS stance, more a look at how the two are being perceived. I do believe that Sony perpetuated an initial view of what the Vita was going to be, that it could never attain!

I remember when the DS came out and how people said that was a wrong design choice....and many of the early games failed to use the two screen design in any meaningful way. I admit to only having played Gravity Rush for a few hours so far, but have found little 'forced' in it...yeah I agree that Uncharted has some. It is early days for Devs as they get used to how best use the Vitas feature set.

I understand many people are swayed heavily by the so called 'system sellers' and the 'next big thing', but myself I just like to see good fun games on Vita....and that I see many. Having played many Mario games, they are not worth the money to myself (Nintendo rarely discount), but I can still see their worth to others. Mario and many other system sellers IP's are very much in the eye of the beholder and through marketing and market presence, sway many...hence the high sales Nintendo are having with the 3DS.

So back to my points...does the Vita have games? Yes it does. Does the Vita have quality games? I believe so, but of course that will always be subjective.
I believe that your reply maybe hints more about the Vita needing perceived 'system sellers' and better marketing than the actual quality of the games. At 44 I've played most Nintendo IP's to death and while I admit their quality, I find an equal amount of quality handheld games on the Vita.

Punished_Boss_84

#51

Punished_Boss_84 said:

Great Review!

Sadly like all good big budget games scores have been based on console quality.

PS Life Style Gave Killzone Mercenary an 7 but Resistance BS: an 8.

I'm afraid Sony and/or other publishers can't win (Score Wise) until they ditch this "console quailty on the go" and stick to "Greatness awaits" or "The World Is In Play" (Which to be fair they have done so already) i don't even recall PS Vita recently being marketed with the CQOTG shtick. Either way its confusing the media and some fans thinking PS Vita is just a portable PS3.

Fruitbat1919

#52

Fruitbat1919 said:

@Legendaryboss Agreed. Sony have now changed their tack. Yep many still think it's a PS3 pocketable lol. Just watched the first level run through on YT and I'm mightily impressed...still can't believe that this is on a handheld and still people moan haha

moomoo

#53

moomoo said:

@Fruitbat1919 Think of it this way:

Look at the game genres Nintendo has put focus on with the 3DS. They put out platformers, SRPGs with Fire Emblem, Adventure games with Professor Layton, Puzzle games with Pushmo and other downloadable games, and quirky games that are kind of hard to pin down in one genre (Kid Icarus Uprising is an onrails shooter combined with a fast-paced action game with 3rd person shooting and melee mechanics, Luigi's Mansion 2 is an adventure-fishing game, Animal Crossing, etc.) Then there's the bevy of support that the 3DS has gotten from JRPGs lately, with SMT 4, Etrian Oddysey IV, Bravely Default, and Mario & Luigi Dream Team.
These genres usually aren't on home consoles. They're usually on handhelds nowadays, so when they are judged against their contemporaries, they're mostly being compared to handheld games by default.

That's not always the case with the Vita, and it's not because it's marketed as "console games on the go." It's because the genres of games that are on the Vita have tons of examples on home consoles. FPS (Killzone, Resistance), third person shooter (Unit 13), action adventure (Uncharted, Assassin's Creed). So when they are reviewed, they're being compared to their contemporaries, which are mostly on home systems. Just look at how some games on the 3DS suffered from the same plight, like Resident Evil: Revelations. That game didn't exactly set Metacritic on fire.

And why shouldn't they? People only have so much time and money in the world. If they're choosing between buying Uncharted 2 or Golden Abyss, they should know which one is more worth their time. Yeah, one is portable and one isn't, but if portability factors into the equation, they'll probably get Golden Abyss anyway, since the scores indicate that it isn't a bad game.

I get where you're coming from. But I don't think Sony can fix this through messaging. The only way they can truly increase their Metacritic scores is by delivering some of the best games in the genres they are in. Fire Emblem Awakening is one of the best strategy games ever. If Sony wants a game like Killzone to rock metacritic, they have to make it one of the best FPS games ever. And even though Killzone: Mercenary is a very competent shooter (as indicated by the Metascore) it isn't one of the best FPS games ever. That's a score section where games like Persona 4: Golden should be.

For what it's worth, Monster Hunter and Soul Sacrifice have received about the same kind of critical reception, with very close Metascores. I think the biggest problem exists in brand-awareness, which you mentioned. It's hard to compete with the likes of juggernauts in Mario, Pokémon, and Monster Hunter.

Fruitbat1919

#54

Fruitbat1919 said:

@moomoo Some excellent points! I especially glad you mentioned 'brand awareness'. It is amazing how we all sit here sometimes believing that everyone else has their choice swayed by media through brand awareness and we somehow are able to see above it all.

Let's take a look at one of the most mentioned points that reviews are making when marking KZ Merc down. 'Nothing original in it's genre'....seen it mentioned lots as a reason that KZ Mercs is not 'best in class' (I disagree with you and many reviewers that the FPS on a handheld should be reviewed score wise against it's home console counterparts, but for now I will leave it at that). Now let's have a look at the Mario platform games. I am personally of the opinion that they have changed very little over the years. Yet while mentioned in reviews, they are seldom marked down low for this reason. Now let's look at it's home console counterparts that have pushed the genre forward....Mario Galaxy series....I have to admit they are top in their genre! But wait.....Nintendo have been unable to produce those on their handheld. Technical limitations of the handheld? Is that not what limits parts of KZ Mercs? Maybe you can already see my train of thought to why I think comparing either of these games to their home console counterpart is not exactly fair.

I do get your point about the different genres on the handhelds in relation to their home console counterparts. I can see there is a difference that would make the weighing up of finances more likely. I think though that 'brand awareness' is also more an aspect as to why many see Nintendo products as 'delivering some of the best games in their genre'. I do think that the psychology of 'brand awareness' has more to do with the Vita being perceived as having low quality games than the games actually being of low quality.

I do have more reasons as to why I believe that comparing KZ Mercs directly to it's home console counterparts is not entirely in line (or fair lol) with how Nintendo portable games are compared to home console and how the scores are effected. I better stop now though, as while I am enjoying our conversation, this could soon drift off the topic lol. Enjoyed your responses...thanks.

Gamer83

#55

Gamer83 said:

Now that I've played it, the game is awesome and, frankly, it has been underrated. Now way in hell it deserves the 78 at Metacritic. I wouldn't say the game is a 9/10 either but it's in the upper class of FPS that I've played no matter what type of system we're discussing. It doesn't light the genre on fire and it's not the most original but what's there is really, really well done. And now after this, my anticipation has shot up even more for Shadow Fall. That could be a true showcase for PS4.

CaptainFeck

#56

CaptainFeck said:

@Sanquine Don't mean to necro this thread, but you said - "the vita is a punch bag for reviewers. Always compare it to console games but whenever some game is better than a console game you hear the sentence: Been there done that." - and I have to say, this is the truest thing about the Vita anyone has ever said.

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