During gamescom I attended a preview session for the upcoming PS Vita first-person shooter Killzone: Mercenary. The game is being developed by UK studio Guerrilla Cambridge who previously designed multiplayer maps for Killzone 2 and 3. Two team members were on hand to discuss the ins and outs of this new entry in the Killzone franchise, and based on their presentation it was clear that Killzone: Mercenary is a triple-A, console-quality game which speaks for itself due to its jaw-dropping graphics and wide assortment of weapons, modes and features.
In Killzone: Mercenary you fill the combat boots of gun-for-hire Arran Danner whose loyalty lies with the highest bidder, whether they be aligned with the ISA or Helghast. The first campaign mission takes place shortly after the events of the original Killzone, while later missions tie in with landmark moments featured in the Killzone trilogy.
One of Killzone: Mercenary’s outstanding features is that all of its modes share a common bank balance. Whether you’re playing in Campaign, Contracts or multiplayer mode each action you perform is rewarded with cash which you can use to buy new weapons, armour, grenades and Vanguard abilities. Playing on a higher difficulty level will increase your payout so players are rewarded based on their skill level and actions on the battlefield. Killzone: Mercenary features 12 primary weapons, 12 secondary weapons, 6 armour types, 5 grenade types, and 8 Vanguard abilities so there’s always an incentive to play another round of multiplayer or attempt completed campaign missions on a higher difficulty setting in order to earn enough cash to expand your arsenal.
Killzone: Mercenary boasts an extensive multiplayer mode where players are awarded a Valour card on a daily basis based on their prior performance. During multiplayer matches you can earn a cash bonus by killing opposing players and collecting their Valour cards. Obviously the best players drop the most lucrative cards so this promises to influence the nature of multiplayer matches as players attempt to hunt down the top dogs on the opposing team. Another feature which is sure to turn the tide of multiplayer matches is when your arms supplier Blackjack deploys a one-shot Vanguard capsule onto the map, creating a mad scramble to see who can reach it first. Killzone: Mercenary’s multiplayer component consists of 3 modes and 6 maps as 2 teams comprised of 4 players each face off against one another. You can track your singleplayer and multiplayer stats on Killzone.com and the game fully supports the PS Vita’s Party app for teaming up with friends and chatting over PSN.
According to the presenters from Guerrilla Cambridge, Killzone: Mercenary’s singleplayer campaign should take roughly 6 to 8 hours – with more hours being added to this total if you attempt to obtain all the Intel in each mission or play through each one’s 3 additional contracts which task you with performing a variety of challenging objectives.
Killzone: Mercenary uses a modified version of the Killzone 3 engine which has been repurposed for PS Vita – a process which took a considerable amount of time and effort according to the developers who presented the session. Some of the techniques which make the game easily the best-looking title available on PS Vita include tone mapping and colour grading, high dynamic range lighting, filmic post processing, volumetric fog, dynamic lights, and screen space reflections. Killzone: Mercenary is one of the few titles I’ve seen on PS Vita which has comparable graphics to a triple-A PS3 game, and this will undoubtedly be a major selling point when it hits store shelves on September 4th in European territories and September 10th in the US.
Head over here for El33tonline’s previous coverage of Guerrilla Cambridge’s inaugural project which was unveiled exactly a year ago at gamescom 2012.