Mercenaries on the go.
This week we got a taste of Killzone: Mercenary, one of the most anticipated releases for the PS VITA of the year, and its online multiplayer. In the hands-on test we get introduced to the basics of how things in the online aspect of the game work. Multiplayer focuses a lot on the collection and use of Valor cards, which are represented as a normal deck of playing cards and following the same ranking with two being the lowest and ace being the highest value. Your collected cards are displayed in the Career Data section of the main menu and you can earn large cash rewards for making hands (four of a kind, full deck, full suit, etc.).
During multiplayer (and by other methods in the campaign, from what I understand) you will earn Valor cards from other players who drop them when they are killed. Once collected, you will receive a cash value for the cards which can then be used to purchase and upgrade your loadouts, including primary and secondary weapons, armor, equipment (frag grenades, flash bombs, etc.) and VAN-Guards which are more less the Killzone equivalent as Call of Duty’s kill streak rewards and are extremely fun in the battlefield. You can have up to five different loadouts but will have to unlock them at various points while progressing through the rankings.
Upon connecting to the Killzone Mercenary server each day, the server will analyze your profile and you will be issued a new Valor card representing your new level of ability. It’s a cool ranking system and it can sway up or down, depending on how well you’re playing. The suit of your personal-rank Valor card depends on your weapon of choice. Diamonds represents sub-machine guns. Spades represents sniper rifles. Clubs represents assault rifles and light machine guns both. Hearts represents secondary weapons. The valor card system might sound like a lot to digest, but its really not that complicated once you play a few games.
As for the gameplay itself, several aspects floored me. The first thing that stood out to me was the incredibly stable online system. I am playing wirelessly on an Internet connection I would call sub-par and have not once been booted out of a game, had any lag issues whatsoever or spent more than a minute looking for a game. Incredible.
The beta only lets you play one game mode and one map. The map is called Shoreline and is quite impressive. It’s not too big and not too small. There are inside areas, outside areas, industrial areas as well as caverns. It has a little bit of everything and some excellent graphics, detailing the map nicely. We also only get to experience one game mode, Warzone. It may only be one game mode, but it was the best choice to display all the ins and outs of this detailed shooter. In each game, you play as either the ISA or the Helghast. There are five distinct phases, which run five minutes each, and each one has a main objective to focus on for points. The objectives vary from collecting valor cards from fallen enemies and securing VAN-Guard capsules (which in turn give you those awesome kill-streak reward type perks I mentioned earlier) to getting the most kills per phase and extracting intelligence from fallen enemies with brute force.
I’ve been waiting for this game for a while, and its looking like it will defeintly be worth the wait. Call of Duty Declassified was OK, but its more of an add-on than a standalone game. Resistance: Burning Skies was a lot better, but still missing the in depth aspect a shooter needs to stand out. With Killzone: Mercenary I feel like we truly have the first great shooter for the Vita, and its about time and I can’t wait to get my hands on the full package. If you don’t have a Vita yet, it may be time to get one.
Killzone Mercenary hits stores on September 10th.