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Killzone: Mercenary: Making the Portable Shooter Work

The PlayStation Vita needs games. There is no denying this. Much like its older brother, the PSP, the Vita is painfully lacking in the software department. It's kind of sad to see this; the hardware is excellent, and the potential is certainly there. Sony is looking to remedy this with the upcoming Killzone: Mercenary. I've spent some time with the game, and I'm very excited to see what the finished product will bring to the table.

Killzone: Mercenary is a sidestory to the core series. It takes place after the end of Killzone, but before and during the events of its PlayStation 3 sequels. In this demo, the war is leaving Vekta and going to Helghan, the home turf of the frightening masked Helghast. But you're not playing as any of the currently-established heroes (Templar, Sev, Rico). You're playing as Arran Danner, a mercenary who will accept contracts from anyone willing to pay the price. Based on the demo, it's impossible to tell if the story will force Danner to examine his role in the conflict, but I don't think it's outlandish to imagine such a scenario.

If you've played Killzone 2 or Killzone 3, you might be utterly gobsmacked at just how faithfully the experience has been replicated. The game is easily one of the best-looking portable titles I've seen; while it may not be quite up there with its console brethren, it comes incredibly close.

As far as gameplay goes, it's classic Killzone, with the twist that you're killing for money. Much like in Bulletstorm, kills earn you currency which can be used for upgrades and better gear. Movement is largely kept the same, though sprinting is handled differently due to the Vita's lack of clickable analog sticks. However, for a somewhat twitchy shooter, it feels great. Naturally, the tactile pleasure of having a controller in your hand is no substitute, but the action mostly works. There are some touchscreen inputs involved with melee attacks; I've never been a fan of that kind of stuff, and hope that developer Guerrilla Cambridge keeps the gimmicks to a minimum.

Killzone: Mercenary is shaping up to be the shooter that Vita owners have been wanting since day one. It's gorgeous, plays wonderfully, and will boast online multiplayer action. The game will hit the ground running on September 10 for a stateside launch, a week after the European release date. Check back for our review.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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