Killzone Mercenary

Killzone Mercenary Preview for PS Vita

On: PS Vita
Review Verdict Read Review
6Out of 10
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Killzone Mercenary screenshot
Killzone Mercenary screenshot

Killzone: Mercenary feels like the realisation of a dream, albeit one from 2004. It feels like the long-coveted 'PS3 in your pocket' is actually here: playing the preview code reminded me just how powerful Sony's handheld is. Mercenary is, in terms of pure graphical grunt, one of the best-looking games I've ever seen on a mobile device.

Helped no doubt by that excellent screen, it's as sharp and detailed as you could hope for, with excellent volumetric effects and wonderful lighting. In terms of looks, it's as much a Killzone game as you could hope for. It's what we were always promised, way back when the PSP launched.

Things are different now, of course, and that sort of attitude doesn't cut it anymore. Killzone may be the realisation of Kuturagi's rather misguided vision of the future, but it's also a reminder that, on the whole, Nintendo is still the king.

In fairness, from what I've played - and this is preview code - it's not a bad game. Concessions have been made to the mobile format. There's a lot more in common with Call of Duty than Killzone here, and that's no bad thing. To accommodate the portable nature of the system, now everything is about loadouts, persistent challenges, unlocks, credits and upgrades.

Killing enemies nets you points, with more adventurous murder - headshots, melee, stealth, double/triple kill (you know the drill) - rewarding you with more score. You then trade these points in at your friendly neighbourhood arms dealer, encouraging better play for better kit. Your points score is then put up for all to see on the leaderboards.

And it can be fun. Killzone's industrial vibe is hardly the most inspiring style in the world, but its shooting is solid, the upgrade system is fun, and well, it simply looks brilliant. It's just that it doesn't feel - for all of the aforementioned concessions - like something that I would want to play on a handheld - highlighting the inherent flaw in the powerhouse, twin-stick philosophy that underpins a lot of what Vita is about.

Killzone Mercenary screenshot

Not that Killzone: Mercenary is totally indicative of what the Vita represents. Games like Tearaway are inventive pieces of software you can only really play there. But it's a damning indictment of the tech-lust attitude that still lingers around Sony's handheld offerings, of shrunk-down versions of big-screen hits, and the firm can ill-afford to continue down that road. Black Ops: Declassified was an extraordinary clunker, another example of how wanting home experiences on handheld doesn't really work out.

That Declassified was terrible didn't help, but even if it was good, like Killzone can be, would it have mattered? Probably not, because these types of experiences are better served at home. Which, coincidentally, is where a lot of handheld gaming is played. Who's going to opt for an inferior version when the real thing is just a front room away?

Compare and contrast to Nintendo, which is on a huge roll at the moment, and one that's due to continue with the likes of Pokemon X and Y, among others, heading for the console.

Nintendo has always known how to play the game on handheld, and while Killzone is impressive in some ways, it marks what should be the death of one of Sony's old dreams. Good: the PSVita is a wonderful console, that pushes new boundaries in mobile games. But it doesn't need to be saddled with old ideas. PS4 will help give the Vita new lease of life, but it can't do all the work.

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User Comments

alphafour's Avatar

alphafour@ VGSteve

I just picked up two games today (F1 2011 and WRC3) for the Vita and they are both atrocious.

I don't think it's that the Vita is rubbish, it's more that the majority of games on Vita are either poorly packaged ports or up-scaled rereleases of PSP games.

The Vita's poor sales didn't help in the early stages and we are still in a situation where nobody is really making good games for it.

The only game I've been enjoying is Little Deviants and that came out at launch!

It doesn't help that the section in the GAME (UK) store near me is tiny and almost invisible. They just put it in somewhere amongst the PS3 stuff and there isn't even a sign saying Vita.

I knew the Vita was going to be a niche product... but... it's REALLY niche.

I agree with the sentiment that, for the most part, Vita games should not try to replicate the living room experience. The only game with genuinely great visuals for Vita is Uncharted GA in my opinion. They seem to have made a decent effort with that but almost every other game I've seen is just lazy.
Posted 02:34 on 26 July 2013
kid_Jump94's Avatar


If it were up to me this is what I'd do differently. (from what I've seen)

- Id tone down the dialog, the commander or who ever is directing you seemss to talks a little too much.
- Id focus more on ammo, it seems you can barely ever run out with all the enemy's dropping quite a bit (makes sense but... it would allow people to focus on changing tactics, and weapons).
- Id have a partner or a group ever so often, with slight talk on how if you don't catch up you wont be getting this weeks paycheck, like banter, but not something that happens to much.
- Id add more weather effects like rain and such, and possibly add more neon stuff, the neon stuff in the surroundings looks good and I wouldn't complain if they added more.
- Enemy deaths, they seem to scream no matter the distance, and I'd say maybe apply it to distance rather than always hearing it.

Besides that I'd only suggest a few voice actors taking it up a bit, now for all I know this could be the rest of the game but yeah I just wanted to add my two-cents ^-^
Posted 11:43 on 25 July 2013
ironpanthr's Avatar

ironpanthr@ VGSteve

Thanks Steve. I appreciate the response and the clarification. In your opinion, could they have done more to this game to make it feel better on Vita? Are there tangible improvements that could be made to it that would make that lacking feeling disappear for you? Or is it just that this type of experience on a portable platform just isn't likely to appeal to you? From the preview, that's the sense I got (thus the "predisposed") comment. But if this game could (and in your eyes should) be better, I certainly appreciate you keeping us informed and look forward to reading the final verdict (whether you or someone else writes it).
Posted 15:41 on 24 July 2013
VGSteve's Avatar


No offence taken, from either comment. This is a hands-on, yes, but it's still my thoughts of the game in a broader context. I'm not "predisposed to disliking it" - I think I make it clear that I actually enjoyed playing it, and admire its technical achievements.

It's more a case of this type of game being more enjoyable elsewhere. It's interesting you mention Resident Evil: Revelations ironpanthr; that game is more enjoyable on 3DS than on Xbox 360, chiefly because it was designed for the former (second screen, etc).

Killzone doesn't feel like it's been built for Vita, it feels like a PS3 game with some adjustments made to it. What I played was fun for a while, but I was always thinking about what was missing, not what it was adding. That's what I want to see disappear.
Posted 15:14 on 24 July 2013
ironpanthr's Avatar


No offense intended, but does this really qualify as a preview? Seems much more like an editorial in which you basically say that no matter how good this game might be, you want it to go away because your personal preference is to not have a console-type game experience on a handheld. You want it to "come and go again." Nevermind all of the Vita owners who do in fact want the whole "PS3 in your pocket" thing to come to fruition -- the same people who have really enjoyed games like Uncharted: GA, Wipeout 2048, NFS Most Wanted, Murumasa and Mortal Kombat.

You also reference the 3DS doing things right, when, unless I'm wrong, it's had several console-like games (Luigi's Mansion, Resident Evil, Zelda). Should I assume you wish those didn't exist as well?

I hope you aren't assigned to reviewing the game since you've basically already admitted you are predisposed to disliking it and wished it didn't exist.
Posted 14:46 on 24 July 2013


I'm not really sure what you're trying to say here.

"It's just that it doesn't feel - for all of the aforementioned concessions - like something that I would want to play on a handheld - highlighting the inherent flaw in the powerhouse, twin-stick philosophy that underpins a lot of what Vita is about."

I don't see how you personally not getting on with a certain genre on handheld highlights a general issue with console games on handhelds? Look at Need for Speed Most Wanted, look at Mortal Kombat, look at Assassin's Creed Liberation, 3 examples of games that are ports or purpose built versions of console games and that don't just work, but work well.

Yes, the Vita works better with its own unique software designed from the ground up, but it sounds from the first 50% of your preview that it works well and it's just you that doesn't seem to get on with it (apologies if I've read that wrong).

Whether or not Killzone works or ends up being any good (it might go either way), I don't think console games being 'forced' on the system are the problem with sales. The price and lack of a push seem to be the main issues here, as is the lack of constant 3rd party titles. In that respect it shares some issues with the Wii U and it's strengths seem to be similar too; indie hits and unique titles that still don't seem to get enough air time or attention.
Posted 13:19 on 24 July 2013

Game Stats

Release Date: 06/09/2013
Developer: Guerrilla
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Unknown
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 3,045 657
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