It's really hard to jump into a brand new game without much, if any, knowledge of the franchise, previous stories and plots, or even the basics as to what makes the particular franchise different than others. I have encountered this dilemma several times over the last year, both with individual games I played randomly, but also in some of the "Week Of..." series that happened throughout the project.
While it is fun to learn about franchises that I didn't know much about, I also found it somewhat difficult to just jump into the newest games right off the bat, as I always felt like there was just something I was always missing or not picking up on that I should know going in. Realistically, however, there just isn't enough time to go back and start all the franchises you've missed out on, so it's usually just best to jump into the cold water head first as opposed to dipping your toes in.
When Killzone Mercenary came out a few months ago for the PS Vita, I had no reservations at all about jumping in, as it would be my first Killzone game I've ever played. Being a late adopter of the PS3. and not caring about it back on the PS2, i just never put much thought into the franchise. But when Mercenary came out, I didn't hesitate as I normally would, for one reason. It was a handheld version of the series, and if we learned anything from Resistance: Burning Skies, handheld versions of established console franchises usually don't hold much weight. Not to say Mercenary was on the same level as Burning Skies at all, because that's a very unfair comparison. I pushed through Burning Skies for the trophies but didn't overly enjoy the experience very much, where as Mercenary I thoroughly enjoyed what I played of it.
(Yes, I still need to go back and finish the game. Trust me, it's looming over my head like a black cloud.)
Regardless, I had to jump in to Killzone: Shadow Fall, as it was one of the highly touted launch games for the PS4 launch. Despite only knowing a little bit of the franchise from Mercenary, I had not choice but to pick it up. While I didn't feel comfortable starting the campaign yet, as I want to give my full attention to something like that, I tried out the multiplayer. In comparison to Call of Duty: Ghosts, I noticed that hardly anyone was actually talking to the matches. Also, the Warzones are really cool in the way that they are much longer, timed matches, with smaller, individual matches within it, all of which are different. You seamlessly transition from Team Deathmatch to a Search and Destroy type of mission, and so on and so forth.
It was a breath of fresh air compared to the norm, which is fantastic. Sometimes that's all you need. Now don't get me wrong, I completely sucked while playing, as the motions and movements of the game and controls felt differently as well, which are probably normal for Killzone, but nothing I was terribly familiar with. That's not a bad thing, though, it just means I need to play some more, right?
The Killzone franchise is ready for me to join. I'm up on the diving board already, ready to jump in. All it takes is one...more...step.
Hype is a scary thing when it comes to video games. On one hand, the lack of hype for whatever reason can completely destroy the success of a game, and has been known to ruin franchises. This usually happens when a game comes out close to a much higher profile game, and it gets lost in the shuffle. Sometimes the studios or publishers just do a horrible job at promoting the game, thus giving review sites and such poor impressions and an overall lack of interest in the product. And of course, there are instances of the game being really good, but missing that "it" factor to make it shine to the consumer.
And then there is the opposite effect of hype, where a game is over hyped to the point of building expectations so high, it can never even come close to fulfilling the prospect of its quality. Whether it be from the game companies themselves, review sites or the general public, it is always a very thing line to walk on, with one miscue pushing the hype train into the over-hyped category. I've been burnt before on over hyped games, falling victim to the excitement and build-up only to have the game fall short of the mark. It's an uncomfortable feeling, but sometimes it's just unavoidable.
Which brings me to Killzone: Mercenary for the PS Vita. This game might have been the most anticipated and hyped game for the handheld console ever, and finally, after all the talk, speculation, previews, reviews, betas and demos, the game finally came out. And not a minute too soon, either, as I'm pretty sure Vita owners were getting ready to go on a collective strike if they didn't get something new and awesome to play on it soon. Killzone: Mercenary has been labeled already as a "console seller," which just means that the game is so good, it could tempt non-Vita owners to run out and buy a system just to play this game. It's also been pronounced to be the best First Person Shooter on a handheld device ever, which is a heavy label to hold and be responsible to live up to.
While I didn't touch the betas and didn't follow the development cycle very closely, I found myself excited about this game as much as the rest of the world. I knew all along I would be getting the game, as it would be my first experience with the Killzone franchise ever, if only because I was curious about the hype it was receiving. I like being apart of the conversations, not left on the outside looking in, hoping to formulate some context and judgement form other peoples' opinions.
I'm glad to be apart of this conversation for sure.
So here's the deal. I didn't jump right in to the multiplayer like everyone else and their mothers did. For me, as you should know by now, I'm all about single player campaigns. Plus, without ever touching a Killzone game before, I wanted to learn about the game, the universe, the controls and simply put, the ins and outs of the game before I jump in with a bunch of other players and embarrass myself. Plus, you know, multiplayer gaming just isn't my thing, as much as I sometimes wish it was.
Playing the campaign was fun, and I enjoyed learning a brand new game. The controls work great and the even the small amount of touch controls didn't bother me at all. There are a few things that bug me, like having to push a button to pick up ammo as opposed to just walking over ammo and automatically collecting it, but that might just take some getting used to.
The big thing I noticed, however, is that while the game looks great - smooth textures, great lighting, small details - I think I just expected more from it, based on the hype. I expected a PS3-like experience with this game, but to me, it still looks like a Vita game, through and through. Not that that's a bad thing, because it's a fantastic looking Vita game, but I just don't see how it is far and above better than games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss on the Vita.
Maybe it's my own fault for falling victim to the hype and expecting more than it could ever deliver. I'm still having a blast with it and enjoying it more than any other FPS shooter I've played on a handheld, so that's a thing. Not sure I would have ran out and bought a Vita to play this game, however, but since I'm already an owner, I'm more than happy to be able to enjoy the game now.
Hype is a weird thing. Thankfully, it hasn't ruined this experience for me. Yet. I haven't tried multiplayer, after all.
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Games played for project : 365