Killzone Mercenary Review

At this point in Vita's life, first-party names like Killzone are seen as the handheld's would-be saviors. Mercenary isn’t that game, but it has some great ideas that just miss the mark.

You’re Arran Danner, hired gun with an awful name, but surprisingly not Mercenary’s worst – that honour belongs to the inimitably gung-ho beefcake, Anders Benoit. As the name of your profession suggests you switch between ISA and Helghan forces, but Mercenary never makes anything of the potential this structure offers.

Its short 4-hour campaign could have been an interesting to-and-fro between perspectives, but instead it plods along with unambitious missions and a series of crowbarred plot developments that have no weight. The characters are flat, and although the game lets you replay contracts with different objectives to mix things up, it still falls short.

That said, the kill-for-cash structure affords you the freedom to continuously buy distinct new weapons. You earn more dosh for murdering in quick succession, pulling off environmental kills and landing headshots, which creates an exciting rhythm. Experimenting with new weapons is a lot of fun, and great, responsive use of the Vita’s dual-stick controls, triggers and intuitive use of the touch screen make Mercenary an entertaining FPS to play.

Multiplayer is also interesting, but getting into games is often a chore and I was disconnected in over half the matches I played. The game is functional enough that bog standard modes are a decent time-sink, but it doesn’t have the longevity to make it an essential experience.

The fact Mercenary has such strong on-paper ideas only makes its lack of ambition even more disappointing. It’s a smart, fun shooter, with the exact structure needed to slim triple-A FPS down to pick-up-and-play portability, but it never comes through and capitalises on its potential. It’s not Vita’s savior, but it’s proof that savior can definitely exist.

Played for 5 hours: finished the campaign and played online. Click here to read about VideoGamer.com's new review policy.

6 / 10

  • Kill-for-cash is good fun
  • Looks great
  • Doesn’t capitalise on its ideas
  • Characters and story are flat

14 Comments

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User Comments

dav2612's Avatar

dav2612

It's a shame the multiplayer side wasn't too reliable. I played several games during the beta and it all went very smoothly.
Posted 15:51 on 04 September 2013
samwrite's Avatar

samwrite@ PortaBorraccie

6 isn't a bad score! It's perfectly good fun, but doesn't capitalise on its ideas nearly as much as it should've.
Posted 15:35 on 04 September 2013
skidoosh's Avatar

skidoosh

I think we should look at this as a proof of concept really. It looks as good as KZ2 (as close as you can on a tiny-tiny screen), it tries not to use vita features in a shoehorned fashion and it focuses on the multiplayer aspect more than any other handheld game I've played. More like a MP game with a tacked on SP game.

One thing I can say after playing the beta is when I go back to the PS3/Xbox I really miss the giro aiming! It's really accurate, and fast!

I like the Killzone games. When I've had it with story, narrative, plot, morality and rational actions it's always quite good to kick back and murder a few hundred cocknies as an american alien (must be a freedom thing)!
Posted 12:28 on 04 September 2013
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

No offense was taken so no need for an apology.
Posted 12:20 on 04 September 2013
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ Bloodstorm

OK, terrible example, you have my apology :)
Posted 12:20 on 04 September 2013
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

"but you'd mark down anything that isn't a fighter"

Got any proof of that? I play MUCH more than fighters, infact, i haven't touched a fighter in quite some time since i've been playing Natural Selection 2, League of Legends, Starcraft 2, Shogun 2, STALKER and APB reloaded in the last 6 months.
Posted 12:18 on 04 September 2013
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ Bloodstorm

I'd say there were the best qualified to do it, I mean we're gamers, and we're literit, but you'd mark down anything that isn't a fighter and I'd mark down anything that wasn't an RPG, anything that was on a Vita because I don't use portables, and anything with Mario in it because... because.
Posted 12:16 on 04 September 2013
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm@ pblive

Not turning this into the "OMG 300 WORD REVIEWS!" again but.......and Videogamer are "normal people" when it comes to reviews?
Posted 12:07 on 04 September 2013
Bratterz's Avatar

Bratterz@ PortaBorraccie

Welcome to the site!
Posted 11:59 on 04 September 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ dav2612

Edge giving anything a 6 is about average for them. They don't score games like normal people do!
Posted 11:02 on 04 September 2013
dav2612's Avatar

dav2612@ PortaBorraccie

EDGE gave it a 6 as well... OMG!
Posted 10:46 on 04 September 2013
PortaBorraccie's Avatar

PortaBorraccie

how do you give 6 in a game like this? you are really ridiculous...
Posted 10:21 on 04 September 2013
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Interestingly the lowest score across the sites. There's an interesting range of scores coming through for this from 10/10 to this 6/10, so I'm guessing it's either a bit of a marmite game or people are seeing it differently because it's on a handheld, so they're not comparing it to console games.
Posted 09:57 on 04 September 2013
markcooper1506's Avatar

markcooper1506

Shame about the single player suffering from the same issues as the main series (mainly god awful characters). I played the multiplayer beta and I thought it was quite good. I quite liked that it was a small map, with only 8 people, it made the matches quite fast paced.
Posted 08:58 on 04 September 2013

Game Stats

Killzone Mercenary
6
Out of 10
Killzone Mercenary
  • Kill-for-cash is good fun
  • Looks great
  • Doesn’t capitalise on its ideas
  • Characters and story are flat
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 06/09/2013
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Guerrilla
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Unknown
Rating: PEGI 18+
Site Rank: 192 2
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