Welcome back to another 5&1 Review. This time, I bring the latest shooter to the Vita to the table, Killzone: Mercenary.
What is the game: Killzone: Mercenary is the latest mobile port of the Sony series. Players control Arran Danner as he goes to the Vekta City on a paid mission from the ISA to free Admiral Grey from the Helghast. As missions progress, Danner sees more of the war from both sides of the conflict. In a first for the series, players will fight alongside the ISA and the Helghast during the campaign. Besides the single player, the game also features a small multiplayer mode with three game types: free-for-all, team deathmatch and Warzone.
How does it work: The controls for Killzone: Mercenary actually handle nicely. It controls like most console shooters, although switching weapons and using VAN-Guard equipment is done with virtual buttons on the screen. Considering there are a few lacking triggers, it’s a nice way to accommodate without being obtrusive to action on the screen.
This isn’t the only thing the screen is used for, though. When you melee someone, you have to do timed swipes on the screen to melee, otherwise they’ll hit you off and run away. It’s a bit annoying, but easy enough to pull off after getting used to it. Still, a basic melee would have sufficed.
The game also has hacking sections that use the touchscreen to match patterns. It’s not that the sections are hard, it’s just that they seem forced in just to use the controls.
An interesting system put into play is the Blackjack arms market where you can buy weapons, armor and VAN-Guard gear with money won for picking up ammo and racking up kills. The VAN-Guard is a variety of gadgets that can help during the fight, such as bots that can stealthily kill enemies or the Porcupine missile launcher.
As players go through the game, they can level up weapons and gain experience that can unlock multiplayer loadout slots. Playing can also give new Valor Cards, cards that base their ranking on a player’s performance. During multiplayer battles, players can also collect cards for more points.
Overall, the campaign is actually pretty short, being able to be completed in a few hours. The game is linear, and switching between sides really doesn’t have an affect like you could hope would happen. It is enjoyable for the time you have with it, though.
The multiplayer is also enjoyable, although options may be lacking. I rarely hit lag in matches I found, and enjoyed most maps, although some maps are fairly small. The three modes are also enjoyable, but can get repetitive without a lot of options that console shooters have.
In matches, VAN-Guard capsules can drop to give players a quick advantage. Also giving players an advantage is the fact that single player funds and experience can carry over to multiplayer, letting you already have unlocked weapons to jump in and use.
The mode is fun, but just doesn’t seem to be able to hold players for a long time. However, on the go, it will do in a pinch for a multiplayer shooter.
Why should you care: Because it’s about time that the Vita had a good shooter. Both Resistance and Call of Duty on the Vita were disappointing, so it’s good to see that a strong shooter can be made on the handheld. Hopefully, the next shooters to come to the system will take a page from this game in how to handle shooters on the system.
Who should buy it: Vita owners looking for a good shooter. After some bad big-name shooters on the handheld, Killzone: Mercenary shows that the Vita can have a quality shooter like consoles. While the multiplayer options may be a bit light, the short single player experience is enjoyable to play.
When should you get it: When you’re on the go and have a shooter itch. It’s the best shooter out on the Vita right now, and the single player is a fun experience. If you’re looking for multiplayer, it’s also enjoyable, but seems to be a light multiplayer experience compared to most shooters.
Where is it available: The shooter can be found in most retail stores, along with on the PlayStation Network for $35.99.
Final Score: 3.7 out of 5