Many Vita owners, myself included, have not had much to play on the system since it released. The device is just full of potential, and I would even go as far as to call it the best designed handheld system in the history of gaming. Unfortunately, Sony has failed to provide any compelling software reasons to actually own this device. Killzone: Mercenary, however, just may be the game to win a few people over for the Vita camp.
There is only one map available to play in the beta, and while it’s not the best designed map ever, it is still a lot of fun. The map is called Shoreline, and it features a wide variety of design. It weaves in and out of a cave that is on the coast. A combination of close-quarters and long-range combat is available, so I think it was definitely the right map to go with for the beta as it lets people get a taste of all the different gameplay styles that Killzone: Mercenary will offer.
Only a single game mode is available as well, but it’s also a good choice. This game mode is called Warzone, and it features five different phases. The goal of Warzone is to gain the most points possible during each phase, and the team with the most points by the end of the game wins.
The phases switch between objective-based game modes and more traditional FPS modes. Unfortunately, the game does a bad job of explaining these things, so there is a little bit of trial and error involved during your first few matches. That wouldn’t be a big deal, except a lot of people simply ignore the objectives in the objective based game types. Not necessarily on purpose, but this makes it really hard for your team to win.
Killzone: Mercenary plays very well. Unlike most people, I was a fan of the online multiplayer offered by Resistance: Burning Skies, and so I have always been excited for Killzone: Mercenary. It shows that the Vita is capable of really impressive things, stuff that the 3DS can’t do, and it’s games like these that Sony should be focusing on if they want to successfully combat 3DS.
The game plays exactly like a console FPS. The graphics are very impressive as well, though I was disappointed in some pop-in that occurred. The animation is slick and I experienced no noticeable lag during online game sessions. The load times are also very fast, and it’s a breeze to hop into a new game.
Mercenary offers customizable loadouts and multiple control methods as well. Players can use the touchscreen or the face buttons to perform actions such as picking up ammo and performing melee kills. In the melee kill animation, players have to use the touchscreen, but this is a nice effect and it doesn’t feel like a gimmick.
The touchpad on the back of the Vita is used for sprinting, but double tapping O works just as well. I appreciated that the game allows players to choose when they want to use the “gimmick” features of the Vita or the more traditional control input methods. I found that a healthy balance between both was the best option, with some things working better with different control inputs.
Killzone: Mercenary features fast-paced combat and gameplay that feels more similar to the console versions of Call of Duty than the multiplayer seen in other Killzone games. This is actually a very good thing, as Killzone: Mercenary plays better and is far more entertaining than any other Killzone multiplayer I’ve played to date.
Fans of Killzone have a lot to look forward to this year, what with the release of Killzone: Shadow Fall on PlayStation 4 and of course Mercenary on Vita in just a couple of weeks time. Those with PlayStation Plus can download the beta right now on their PlayStation Vita to test the waters out for their themselves, but I am putting my giant stamp of approval on Killzone: Mercenary. FPS multiplayer has never been this awesome on a handheld.