Killzone: Mercenary – Hands-on with Guerrilla’s portable shooter

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Killzone: Mercenary – Hands-on with Guerrilla’s portable shooter

Not long ago, the US and European press got its first hands-on experiences with Killzone: Mercenary, Guerrilla Games Cambridge’s upcoming PS Vita shooter. Despite gracing Vita’s portable screen, the team behind Mercenary is hellbent on providing a full FPS experience with all the trimmings. Come September, you’ll get a full nine-mission story-driven campaign, an eight-player competitive multiplayer mode, and a collection of bonus challenge missions.

Watch our new video to get the inside story straight from Art Director Tom Jones.

Much has already been said about Killzone: Mercenary’s graphical fidelity, but I’ll add my voice to the choir: this is one fine, fine-looking game. Because Mercenary runs on a modified version of the Killzone 3 rendering engine, you’ll see modern niceties such as volumetric lighting and smoke, high-res environment textures, gleaming metal and realistic-looking shadows.

None of this would be out of place for a modern PS3 shooter, but portable gaming rarely sees this level of extreme graphical detail. Screenshots and internet videos only tell part of the story – just wait until you see this puppy in action on Vita’s 5″ OLED screen.

Of course, the series’ bedrock shooting mechanics have made the leap fully intact thanks to PS Vita’s dual analogue sticks. Actually, Mercenary’s refined damage model means that its weapons feel slightly more powerful – a satisfying tweak that enabled me to drop enemies a bit more quickly than in the PS3 games.

Killzone 3’s savage melee attacks have also made the cut, and they benefit from PS Vita’s front touchscreen as you swipe one of several directions to gouge out eyes, break necks, and slit throats. Meanwhile, the rear touchpad takes over sprinting duties with a quick double tap.

Killzone Mercenary on PS Vita

The VAN-Guard is the most high-profile addition to Killzone’s lethal arsenal, and it adds new gameplay wrinkles to the campaign and multiplayer modes. The VAN-Guard is a wrist-mounted murder assistant that enables you to deploy a head-stabbing Mantis drone, guided Porcupine missiles, or a Sky Fury ion cannon bombardment with a tap or two on PS Vita’s front touchscreen.

Because your VAN-Guard slowly recharges between uses, it doesn’t necessarily favor the most skilled players in a multiplayer match the way traditional Killstreaks can. Based on my time with multiplayer, I found it served as more of a leveling influence, keeping the rookies in the game and the most skilled players on their toes.

Money talks in Mercenary, and you’ll collect a bit every time you complete an objective, pick up an ammo clip, or slay an opponent – bonus cash for creative kills! Build up a large enough pool and you’ll be able to purchase new guns, VAN-Guard abilities, and armor mid-mission from crates left by a shady weapons dealer named Blackjack.

And you’ll want every credit you can find – based on what I experienced, Mercenary has the series’ biggest weapon loadout yet, from medium-range battle rifles and stealth SMGs, to shotguns, pistols and much more. What’s more, Mercenary’s large weapon loadout accommodates a wider variety of play styles than in past Killzone games, from stealthy sniping to close-range brawling.

Killzone Mercenary on PS Vita

Multiplayer is a definite focus for Mercenary, and Guerrilla Games Cambridge is upping the ante to keep the Killzone community playing long after the game’s September launch. The game will ship with three multiplayer modes – so far, only the venerable Team Deathmatch is confimed – and an integrated stat-tracking system will post your results to daily. There’s also a collection game built around Valor cards that you can loot from particularly tough multiplayer opponents; completing the full deck could earn you a slice of Internet fame.

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  • Nice new video! However: Isn’t it unfortunate to release a game on the same day GTA V releases? I mean I’m getting it anyway, but aren’t you losing some of the attention the game deserves?

    Oh and please Sony, market this game!

    Short question about the gameplay: Are there any uses for the touchpad on the back of the Vita?

  • tis looking very nice and sexy :D. glad to hear all the cool guns and brutal melees are in there from the previous games too hehe.

    cant wait to see more of it 8).

  • Double tap the back to run? No, please no. It makes more sense to keep a finger on the rear touch to run.
    Hold down rear touch, keep running, keep finger off, run.
    Maybe, single tap can be touch.
    Also, has the game increased player count or is it still 4vs4? Everyone’s hoping you increase player count at least 6vs6.

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about the running double-tap. It takes a few minutes to get used to but then really wasn’t an issue. Remember, Vita has a few less buttons than PS3 – this struck me as a very reasonable compromise when I played it last month.

  • Oh i meant, finger off rear touch, no run.

  • ^^In response to running, that’s one thing declassified got right. You could set It to always run, so as long as you had the stamina, you would run.

    Seriously can’t wait for this, I love the fact that earnings are spread across all modes, It really seems lie they’ve gone all out to make a great portable experience.

  • I am sorry but i can´t imagine VITA running that!! It’s absolutely astonishing :)

  • could you make owners of this game play killzone 3 with remote play?
    Unless it’s already remote playable

  • The game is looking pretty amazing and I for one am very excited, but as others have noted releasing the same day as GTA V is both brave and stupid. Obviously their date had not been made public at the time you announced it, but since it has you do have to apply some common sense.

    Not everyone can buy two games in the same week, especially if you are expecting this to be a system seller. If you are asking people to choose between this and GTA V, how many do you think will go for this?

  • Can’t wait for this!

    Hoping they push the release date a little forward due to not wanting it to collide with GTA V. Would love to be able to play this during the summer!

  • It looks AMAZING!!!:P It’s just a shame it’s not for the PS3 to:( But i guess i will be playing KZ:SF on the PS4 (hopefully) at the end of this year!!!:P

  • I really hoped that we’ll see some new gameplay footage in the video or a new screenshot at least… :(
    The reartouch double tap to run seems strange to me too. I hope they make a control scheme that will include a D-pad down press to run, because that’s a thing Nihilistic got right and I think all future Vita FPSs should include.

  • sorry to change subject but is there anyone at sony who could try to push for a release of medal of honours heroes and call of duty road to victory for the vita. to play these games on it would be great with twin sticks and since killzone is not out for another 6 months it will keep fps fans happy.
    please make it happen.

    love my vita, love my sony

  • @3: I’m actually glad it’s not “hold backtouch” to run as I often accidentally do that when holding the Vita.

  • Looks totally awesome!! This should revolutionize portable gaming for me. Uncharted did a pretty good job at it but FPS is even more precise. Can’t wait to put those two joysticks to work on this and hear that lovely kill sound.

  • Will this be analogue stick aiming only or will it have the killer feature that Uncharted: Golden Abyss had in that you can use the 6-axis motion of the Vita to aim? That is what made UC:GA such a joy to play, except maybe for the poor soul sitting next to me on the train in the mornings as I swing my Vita up in to his face yet again!

    This was lacking in Resistance and one reason I did not bother to buy the rather poor Resistance port to the Vita.

    And while on the subject of great UC:GA features, stuff rear-pad tapping for running, rear-pad sniper zoom is a far more worthy and accurate use of this input.

  • Could this be even cooler, hotter and everything else than Black Ops Declassified? When do we see Killzone cardgame or version for mobiles?

  • What about framerate?

  • I hope that MP has host migration.

  • Will the framerate be improved in the final version ? Its not very smoothly on this video…

    I hope it wont be big default of the game.

  • Can’t wait for the game, day 1 purchase for me. I just hope you’re going to change the release date, cause releasing the same day GTA 5 is releasing is sending the game to die, just like ACIII:L was when released the same day as regular ACIII. Don’t make that mistake!

  • No one seems to have mentioned the one thing most shooters have gotten wrong so far on Vita. Let’s hope the AI is good!

  • hadlee73 : There was jsut 3 shooters on Vita, one by the Socom team, it was a good scoring TPS.

    And two others, by a bad team which makes bad games.

    Its totally different here, the team is Guerilla Cambridge, those who worked on the previous Killzone and many others game ( like Medievil )

  • Sony really should extend remote play to include all PS3 titles no matter what. This would start selling ps vitas like hell and the system deserves it.

    The system has proved that it works with a bunch of titles now, just flip that switch.

  • I cant wait for this game, Its the reason I baught a vita after I saw it in the first vita sizzle reel!

  • Hey, Fred. Could you answer if Killzone: Mercenary blocks Vita’s music player? Nothing is better on-the-go in short controlled bursts than killing some dudes while listening your favorite deathcore song!

    Because if KZM blocks music player (just like say LBPVita or Jetpack Joyride) there is no much use for me on a road trip and all of a sudden portable game becomes couch game… when I have PCs and consoles everywhere around with far more superior experience… I have a lot of games which I play when my girlfriend messes up with my PC, or when sitting in bathroom on that white ceramic friend… ewh! sorry for details, though almost every person use Vita to shorten time in bathroom :D

  • sorry, *play only when.

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