Somehow, they've managed to keep the polarizing sense of weight in Killzone 3, while still appeasing concerns that the previous game was too loose. Killzone 3 is a much tighter, much more responsive shooter — but it still has that key ingredient that makes the franchise so different to its peers. Oh, and it looks incredible too.
Those near us during our hands-on demo of Killzone 3 can vouch for two common phrases we uttered: "The sea. Look at the sea!" and, "Can you believe this is pre-alpha?". Let's start with the former though — Killzone 3 looks light-years ahead of its predecessor. The pre-alpha demo we played was a visual spectacle beyond anything we've ever seen on PlayStation 3. Uncharted 2 set the bench-mark in 2009, God Of War III and Gran Turismo 5 will set it in 2010. But Killzone 3's ready to reclaim its crown in 2011 - to think the game has roughly 7 months of development time left in it boggles our mind.
The demo we played started out with an on-rails shooting segment, as we were prompted to scatter shots at an industrial oil rig. The draw-distance is astonishing, with miles of sea visible, swirling and crashing against the rocks that punctuate the sea bed.
Our ship eventually crash landed, leaving us to take the fight to the Helghast on foot. With Rico at our side, we rushed over the ice-capped mountains and into our first gun-fight. It's here we noticed just how responsive the controls are. Shooting still feels punchy, but the controls are much tighter than Killzone 2. We found it much easier to pick off targets when aiming down the iron-sights. It's hard to explain exactly what has changed — we'd need to spend more time with the game for that; but we assume the input lag has been reduced. We must stress, the game still feels like Killzone - that trademark sense of weight is still apparent. But we predict that there will be very few complaints about the controls once people get their hands on this. It's a vast improvement.
There's a distinctly more open feel to the gun-fights in Killzone 3. While the last game pinned you into corridors, Killzone 3 gives you bigger arenas to fight in. This allows the game's AI to really shine, as we were flanked and forced out of cover on numerous occassions.
After crossing the mountainous land-scape, we headed inside a refinery type settlement. Here we got our first encounter with a jet-pack equipped Helghast. Shooting these guys is super-rewarding, as their jet-pack's spiral out of control and send them careering into the sky.
It was at this point our demo ended. We opted to get some hands-on time with the 3D version of the game rather than check out the jet-pack gameplay which was also on display. Killzone 3 uses really subtle touches of 3D technology to add depth to the picture, rather than make it pop. It feels like you're moving into the screen, and it's really noticable when you're aiming down the iron-sights of the weapons. The longer you spend with the game in 3D, the more it begins to feel totally natural. There were some moments where snow brushed in front of our eyes, but aside from these, Killzone 3 is all about depth.
Whether you've got a 3D capable television or not though, Killzone 3's certain to be one of the most stunning games you play next year. Watching cracked ice bob and weave with the flow of the sea is a sight to behold — we can only imagine how it's going to look when it hits stores next year.