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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Killzone Liberation (Sony for PSP)


By Michael Palisano

Prepare to battle the evil Heighast forces again with the release of Killzone: Liberation for the PSP later this fall. The game stays true to its FPS roots in terms of gameplay, but the action now takes place from an angled, overhead view which better suits the handheld's smaller size. Intense combat, stealth action and loads of cool weapons are some of the features included, along with wireless multiplayer battles and more. Look inside for our detailed impressions of this upcoming release.

You'd think it would be almost impossible to bring the sheer intensity and massive scope of Killzone to the PSP effectively, but developers at Guerrilla look to have done just that with the impending release of Killzone: Liberation. The game is scaled back somewhat in terms of presentation, with most of the action taking place from an overhead perspective, but the intensity of combat and situations remains impressive. Liberation's level designs look quite impressive, with large detailed arenas available right from the get go. Battling the evil Heighast forces requires players to use a variety of tactics including sniping and shooting from behind. Each level features interactive elements that you can use, including explosive barrels and switches to keep you on your way. You'll find a number of cool items throughout the missions such as weapons and health packs, along with other items. You can choose to use these items right away, or can hold on to use them later, which is a key part of the game's strategy. In the playable demo, one of the most important strategies was to keep an eye on where your opponents were located, in order to keep their damage to a minimum. The game's overhead perspective helped in this to a large degree, and made the missions much easier to understand and complete. This approach also makes it easier to aim and shoot your weapons, making the game feel like almost a shooting game at times. There's a surprising amount of depth in Killzone Liberation, and this should make for a title with plenty of replay value.

Part of Liberation's depth is evidenced by the sheer variety of weapons on hand. During each mission, you can use a wide variety of weapons with sniper rifles, machine guns, pistols assault rifles, rocket launchers, frag and smoke grenades to name just a few. Each of these weapons brings a unique style of play to the levels, and your success depends in large part to which ones you select and how you use them. You begin each level with a basic arsenal but can pick up additional weapons by breaking apart crates or grabbing them from fallen opponents. The enemies aren't as dumb as you'd expect them to be and they can outflank and surround you if they want. You have to keep your eyes on them at all times. The game's controls are fairly easy to use as well, you aim your shots using the d-pad, and can take cover behind objects by pressing down on the right shift key, using the square to stand and fire while in this position. Using the grenades is fairly simple as well, and you are given a quick map of the trajectory to help you aim more accurately. Killzone: Liberation's battles are quite intense, but in the demo at least, there are multiple checkpoints which allow you to get back into the action and progress without a lot of backtracking. Killzone's single player levels seemed to be large and impressive enough to make a satisfying game, but not too large that they become confusing. The game's flow and pacing is excellent with a good balance between action and strategy, creating some tense situations where you don't know what lurks behind the next corner.

This sense of anticipation, followed by bursts of intense action helps to make Killzone: Liberation achieve a feeling of real war and danger that makes the experience feel all the more visceral. The game's dark, dystopian setting and intimidatingly robotic enemies further add to its evocative atmosphere. There's a foreboding feel of being up against impossible odds that permeates the gameplay, making your survival in bleak circumstances feel all the more victorious. From an aesthetic standpoint, it's hard not to be impressed by the sheer level of detail evident in the level designs. While some of the earlier levels in the demo definitely seem slightly unimaginative, later areas feature more expansive and interesting level designs. As things open up, Killzone's gameplay and strategy also comes further into view. Instead of a mindless shooter, there's actually plenty of strategy - you don't always need to rush in to confront an enemy. Sneaking up behind them reduces the damage they can do to you and also lessens their ability to call in reinforcements. The single player game is packed with this type of gameplay which makes for quite an engaging experience. Additionally, Killzone Liberation's multiplayer modes are also looking impressive. Hooking up via the PSP's ad-hoc connection allows you to battle against gamers from around the net in a variety of different modes, which should add to the game's replay value and depth. At this stage, Killzone: Liberation is looking like one of the most promising PSP titles to date, and if the full game delivers the way these demo levels do, gamers are in for one of the best handheld shooters on the hand-held to date.

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