Killzone: Mercenary Multiplayer Beta Impressions

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The PlayStation Vita has a great selection of games available. From JRPGs like Persona 4 Golden to beat em’ ups like Dragon’s Crown, and action adventure games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss. But there’s one thing the Vita doesn’t have; a flagship shooter. Until now.

After hours with Killzone: Mercenary‘s online multiplayer suite, I’m convinced the game will deliver a definitive FPS experience on the PS Vita. As of now, there’s only one mode available on the open Beta, and that’s Warzone. Warzone is a grab bag of all the standalone game modes that will be offered in Mercenary’s competitive online component. Guerrilla Cambridge has several modes available for it’s Valor online service. Bounty Hunter (collect Valor cards from downed foes), Hacker (secure points of interest on the map called VAN-Guard capsules), Interrogator (extract intelligence from downed enemies), and Body Count (deathmatch). Multiplayer itself has three main modes as well – Mercenary Warfare, Guerrilla Warfare, and Warzone.

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Players will also have access to full load out customization. Four custom classes are unlocked at certain XP levels, and Valor points unlocked by getting kills, scavenging equipment during battle, completing challenges, and collecting cards from enemies all net you currency that’s needed to upgrade your load out. Primary and secondary weapons as well as equipment, VAN-Guard specializations, and flak jackets are all available at the Arms Dealer.

Shoreline is the only available map at this time, but it has a good assortment of engagement types and lines of sight. Some parts of the map are tight, claustrophobic corridors while others are more suited to middle and long range engagements. There’s even a snipers nest of sorts smack in the middle of the map.

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The control layout of Mercenary is arguably the best way to offer all of the features of a top level FPS on a limited button selection. The controls are mapped very close to what’s typically the standard with weapon swaps, grenades, and VAN-Guard abilities engaged via non-obtrusive touch controls. Sprint, crouch and slide are all executed with the B button, but it’s relatively simple to differentiate the commands.

Even though the game is currently in Beta, I didn’t experience any noticeable latency or extended load times. The shooting mechanics feel tight and precise, and the gorgeous visuals don’t take much of a hit even when the action ramps up.

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The Valor experience wouldn’t be complete without frustratingly incompetent teammates. That frustration is compounded by a lack of communication. There’s no verbally coordinating your team’s efforts, or warning teammates of impending doom due to the lack of voice chat. I’d say the lack of a team chat is the only real glaring deficiency Mercenary will have.

After my time with Guerrilla Cambridge’s Killzone: Mercenary online, I’m even more excited for September 10th, 2013. The single player campaign will likely feature even more impressive graphics and a solid story line. Pairing that with a deep, portable multiplayer will make Mercenary the shooter Vita fans have been waiting for.

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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