We've had plenty of time to get stuck into Killzone 3's multiplayer since release although the PSN crisis interrupted our play for a while. Since then there's been a patch to tweak gameplay and multiple double XP weekends to tempt us back. Missed out? Then check out what you've been missing online and offline.
The 32-player multi-mission Warzone matches from Killzone 2 return and will be very familiar to series fans. Newcomers will probably recognise the contents from other shooters. However, unlike the competition, you'll play all the following modes in one match. With the winning team being those who can win the most modes or 'rounds.'
Assassination randomly chooses a player as a target who must be killed while the other team try to protect him until the time limit passes. Both teams get a turn before the next round. Another objective involves moving a propaganda radio loudspeaker, in a similar way to capture the flag matches. Holding territory zones is another objective and Search & Destroy games see teams trying to plant or defuse explosives. Matches usually end with a good old team deathmatch, which acts as a good way to finish the game in a balls-to-the-wall bloodbath.
With all these objectives in one match, it's unsurprising that they can last for quite a while. If you can dedicate the time to it though, it's a good place to rack up some XP. Now that some time has passed since the release, the players have started to learn the maps and gel to work together. It works well if you've been playing for a while, but newcomers shouldn't fear entering the fray. Well, the cloaked snipers piss on everyone's parade, but those long-range bastards grind the gears of any online FPS player.
New to the series is the operations mode where the ISA and Helghast forces do battle to attack or defend key locations of one of three maps. The ISA are usually trying to blow something up or open up a path to a new area. The multiple objectives mean that matches can be very close.
This may sound familiar, but the unique selling point is the way cutscenes are used to give the game a more epic vision, similar to the way key moments are displayed in the single-player campaign. Admittedly, I was very cynical as to whether this would add anything at all, but I have to admit, it's really impressive. If you're the player that performs a key action such as finally placing an explosive charge you'll be shown (your PSN name is present during the cutscene) in your own hero moment, such as diving onto a flying personnel carrier just as the explosives detonate, ripping a Helghast facility to bits at your heels. You want some of that, trust me.
The mech suits and jetpacks are terrific fun in multiplayer although they're only included in a very small number of maps. The jetpacks in particular give you a killer advantage as you can reach lofty platforms to kill the puny mortals below you. Steel winged flavoured machine gun death? Hell, yes.
A recent patch added to the ability to create more customised matches. So if you want rid of snipers, go for it. Certain types of soldiers or 'Careers' can be banned as can different levels of unlocks for weapons, abilities and skills. Unfortunately, this mode is only available to invited friends; you can’t just create matches as open lobbies. A bizarre and disappointing decision. If you just want a simple team deathmatch then Guerrilla Warfare if the option you want. This mode even has an exclusive map in Kanzan Jungle, a tight environment for frantic close-encounters.
Primary and secondary abilities are unlocked with points earned from levelling up. Each soldier class has a different set. Engineers levels up repairing and hacking enemy turrets and also placing their own sentry turrets. Marksmen unlock multiple stages of cloaking and can also scramble enemy radar. Tacticians can capture tactical spawn areas, perform recon scans putting enemy blips on the map, or go for an attack drone to patrol the skies. Infiltrators can disguise themselves with later levels maintaining the ruse even with close-up enemies and their survivalist perk increases their sprinting ability. Field medics are great for reviving downed allies but there's never one around when you need one to revive you. Their secondary abilities include emitting an aura of heath, or a hovering droid to escort you around. Medics can even earn the power to heal themselves after the respawn counter ends where they fell. In addition, all classes can unlock armour, silent footsteps, extra ammo and a cool ability to carry an extra primary weapon instead of the barely used pistols.
Unlock points can also be used to buy weapons. Although you have to unlock the same weapon for each class. Each class only has access to three primary and three secondary weapons to choose from, so you can't create you're ideal soldier sometimes.
It may be local splitscreen only but this is still a vital addition to the series. You can play through the whole campaign with a friend. Tired of Rico being a tool with the medi-gun? Well at least you can rely on your friends to revive you now as you tear through the game's tougher difficulties.
The split itself on your TV is admittedly quite an ugly one. Speaking from a widescreen perspective, the split has a chunk of black at the side, presumably not to stretch and distort the image. It feels like it's wasting valuable space though. They could at least have put a map or your ammo counters there.
As with most co-op titles, they've missed the opportunity to add a simple competitive element by comparing kill counts at the end of a level. Did nobody that makes games today ever play Timesplitters co-op or what? Jeez.
Minor gripes aside, the co-op is a fantastic addition and it's good to see the game hold up so well visually with the splitscreen. I would advise playing through on your own first though, just to enjoy the true cinematic vision.
With more DLC maps on the way for Killzone 3’s online side, we expect interest in the game will be strong for quite some time yet. How about you guys? Still playing K3 and what do you like or what do you think needs to be changed next time or via a patch?