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Killzone: Liberation

Killzone's PSP debut goes all tactical - but does it live up to the hype?

Where Killzone on PS2 couldn't possibly live up to the extraordinary hype, Killzone: Liberation has come through unscathed to become one of the best games of the year so far on PSP.

Swapping the (very) straightforward shoot 'em up thrills of the original for a slower-paced, more tactical style of game proves to be a masterstroke. Each level is set up like a deadly maze, with mines, laser tripwires, turrets and hordes of Helghast all standing between you and the exit. Although linear in many respects, the game leaves it largely up to you how you get from one end to the other.

Most of the time it's simply a case of ducking behind cover and popping up when there's a break in fire to unleash a few rounds yourself. The lock-on is pretty loose depending on the accuracy of your chosen weapon, but a health bar appears above an enemy whenever he's foolishly left part of his body sticking out. However, just when you get comfortable the game introduces killer dogs and grenadiers that hound you out of a safe spot, forcing you to desperately find another cover point and use smoke grenades to conceal your movements.

Despite the heavy leaning towards strategic thinking, Liberation still delivers oodles of intense action. The cat-and-mouse nature of the gameplay lends shootouts a siege mentality, and you frequently find yourself pinned down by two or three Helghast at a time looking for ways to surround you. The gritty industrial and urban areas of the PS2 original are beautifully recreated on the small screen, and in the rare moments of calm you can still hear explosions and fellow ISA fighters taking on Helghast somewhere in the distance.

Missions are nicely varied too. Sometimes you spend the entire level on foot weaving through the intricate pathways, and occasionally you get to drive part of the way in a tank or a hovercraft. You also have to defend territories, rescue hostages and return them to a dropship. The 16 single-player missions can also be played through again with a mate, which is just the start of the excellent multiplayer options on offer. There'll also be downloadable extra content in the very near future, including a new chapter for both single-player and coop. Our one quibble is that the game sharing feature only lets another PSP user who hasn't got a copy of the game sample demo levels rather than join in the co-op or multiplayer modes.

This should get everyone talking about the series again for the right reasons. It's original, atmospheric and challenging, and sets things up nicely for the stunning PS3 game. Let the hype begin again.

The verdict

The new direction has paid off - better than the PS2 game in every way. A truly great achivement.

  • Great, gritty atmosphere
  • Tactical gameplay adds substance
  • Excellent multiplayer and extras
  • Single-player could be longer
PlayStation Portable
Guerrilla Games