E3 is just two weeks away and most companies are keeping their cards tight to their chest in order to make a splash at the gaming industry's biggest event. That being said, this time of year is usually pretty desolate when it comes to big game announcements. However, Sony have decided to go against the current this year, announcing several high profile titles from their first-party studios such as LittleBigPlanet 2, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, and Killzone 3. The PlayStation maker has gone even further then simply announcing Killzone 3, it has revealed a substantial amount of information on the game. Guerilla Games latest installment in the Killzone series will pick up the plot right where the last game left off, add jet packs, feature diverse environments, and be optimized for 3D viewing.
Story wise, Killzone 3 is set immediately after the events of its predecessor. Haven't completed Killzone 2 yet? Well, go do that now because the following paragraph will spoil the ending. Killzone 2 left players on the edge of their seats - Sev, Rico, and the remnants of the ISA invasion force (devastated by a Helghan nuclear attack) stormed the imperial palace and killed the Helghan leader, Visari. Killzone 3 dramatically shifts the balance of power. The leadership vacuum created in the wake of Visari's death has caused a civil war between powerful factions within Helghan's military. Sev and the crippled ISA force face a desperate race to escape the Helghan planet alive.
Guerilla have stated their goal with Killzone 3 is to expand and improve on every aspect of the second game's foundations. That means adding a jet pack for more versatile combat and platforming options, increasing the variety of environments the player will visit, and making the battlefields bigger - all good things. The Killzone 3 jet pack is picked up from fallen Helghast soldiers, giving the player greater mobility at the expense of some firepower and the ability to melee attack. Speaking of melee, the hand to hand combat system has also been completely overhauled. Players now have a variety of melee attack options available such as kicking or stabbing a Helghan soldier based on where you're located in relation to the enemy.
Increased Variety also extends to the game's environments and battlefields. Guerrilla have said players will be exploring a much wider range of the Helghan planet this time around. Some examples include arctic tundras, lush tropical jungles, and even space - a welcome change from the frequent industrial hallways of Killzone 2. The battlefields also appear to have been improved. They will take place in much larger areas in Killzone 3 - much like a miniature sandbox for each encounter - the aim being to provide players with multiple paths to complete an objective. Having invested heavily in building high performance technology for Killzone 2, Guerrilla have much greater freedom this time to focus on the game's mechanics and design.
Another big announcement from the Killzone 3 reveal was the inclusion of 3D support. This isn't too surprising considering Sony has been aggressively promoting 3D game integration for PlayStation 3 lately. In the hopes of squashing any speculation that 3D was merely tacked on, Guerrilla have been quick to point out they've been implementing the technology since the conceptual stages of the game's development. Without playing the game in 3D for myself it's hard to be definitive (also taking into account the early build that was shown). However, the general consensus has been that the game looks sharp in 3D but suffers from some awkward 2D visuals that take you slightly out of the experience.
The argument that 3D is a integral part of Killzone 3 but at the same time doesn't make any concessions or hamper the 2D experience seems a bit backward in my opinion. If 3D is indeed a "game changer" then the gameplay and level design should reflect that, which doesn't seem to be the case here. 3D in Killzone 3 appears to be a nice bonus feature for those willing to fork over the cash, but most will be just fine without it. That being said, Guerrilla are clearly skilled developers when it comes to cutting edge visuals, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
Killzone 3 has definitely left a strong first impression. Developer Guerrilla Games seem ready to build on the foundations of Killzone 2, and improve on its weaknesses. The jury is still out on whether 3D integration will be worthwhile, but regardless Killzone 3 is set to make a big impact when it hits store shelves sometime in 2011.