Previews

Killzone 3: A Call of Duty beater?

Impressions direct from the Beta frontline

Killzone is an acquired taste online. It's good, but the heavy movement and unwieldy guns are a shock to the system if you're accustomed to COD's lightning fast action.

Get acclimatised to it, though and it's a weighty, varied and intense counterpoint to the usual twitchy, multi-player blasting.

The good news with the Killzone 3 Beta is that they've changed just enough to make it less cumbersome, without losing the Killzone-y feel.

You're slightly quicker on your feet now, for example, but not necessarily sprinting. So you still feel like a human, physically double timing across the terrain rather than a gun gliding over maps.

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The weapons are also more stable. Possibly too much so - the M224-1A LMG is more dangerous at range than a sniper rifle, letting you lay down lethal suppressing fire over huge distances.

Similarly the STA3 LMG looks like an LMG, cuts people to ribbons like an LMG but is as easy to waft around and aim as an SMG.

Both are nice if you're on the giving end. Less so if you're receiving. Everything else, however, feels well balanced - even if it's all perfectly accurate at any range - so it's only few a minor tweaks away from perfection.

(Although, honestly, pulling off precision shots with a huge 300 round machine gun is kinda cool.)

There's also an interesting level of power to the different abilities you can unlock. The Tactician, who can capture 'tactical spawn' areas (contestable start points scattered around the map) has a skill called Recon.

Once you activate it, every opponent on the map is highlighted with a big blue circle. It's hugely over-powered but it might not be madness.

The Marksman has an ability called Scramble which counters Recon for allies in a 15 meter radius. It suggests you'll have to play tactically as a team, work abilities against each other to gain and cancel advantages.

Other powerful perks include an invisibility cloak that can be upgraded to 'always on' for the Marksman, while the Infiltrator can rank up his Disguise so that melee kills won't break it.

That sort of power could create havoc used well behind enemy lines. Every class has at least one over the top skill which either evens matches out, or makes them horribly unbalanced. This is the Beta, though.

Play nice
Only three games types have been revealed so far. Guerrilla Warfare is your basic death match, Warzone returns to Killzone 2's cycling game modes and so far includes the return of matches like the target-whacking Assassination, CTF-style Search & Retrieve and good old Bodycount deathmatches.

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Then there's Operations. This is an objective-based game with the ISA versus the Helghast, competing to take and hold various objectives.

The fun part is that the story is told using cut-scenes that star the most successful players. Do well and it'll be your name over the head of the Helghan who pistol whips an ISA POW. It's a short-lived thrill but still a great idea.

And let's not forget the looks. The three maps we've seen are visually impressive, if a little drab on colour.

There's Frozen Dam, a tight, closed in facility full of snow, ice and overhanging walkways and holes perfect for ambushes.

Corinth Highway is a bomb crater of a city that also shows off the new Exo mechs - heavily armed with machine guns and rockets but still something you can take down with a SMG and a bit of skill.

The absolute star, however, has to be Turbine Concourse SE-6. It's an industrial wasteland centred on a huge, Stargate-like machine.

As you fight it spools up, with a harrowing grinding, scream before discharging massive energy blasts.

It's also home to the jet packs which make a satisfying metallic honk as they launch you up to higher platforms and sniper spots.

What we've seen is interesting, with powerful perks and interchangeable classes that'll either break the rules or redefine them. It's also handsome (well, if you like brown) - putting many rivals to shame. With balancing tweaks and a bit more colour variety this will be ace.

Order PSM3 here and have it delivered straight to your door.

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