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[PS Vita Review] Killzone: Mercenary

If you’ve been waiting for a reason to finally dust off your PlayStation Vita. Well you better get to it because Killzone: Mercenary is here. Developed Guerrilla Games Cambridge, Mercenary delivers what it promises to the devoted Sony handheld gamers and some. If the opening title animation doesn’t capture your attention, then the stylized briefing animations will. That’s just the surface, I haven’t even started writing about the contents of the game itself. Starting a new game prompts you to “scan your fingerprint” to proceed. I mean yes, it’s not really scanning your fingerprint however that single action alone immediately submerges you in to the story of the game. You’re an ISA merc partnered up with Ivanoff. Another merc who seems to resemble Los Angeles Dodgers closing pitcher Brian Wilson. From there you’re instantly briefed of the current situation and the current objective. The action doesn’t stop there as Mercenary tops at around 5 hours of single player campaign with various difficulty settings and various missions to replay just in case you miss a couple of intel pieces.

I usually re-word what is in the media alert or guide that comes along with the review copy but this description is too perfect to revise. This is pretty much what you need to know in a nutshell if you’re still not convinced about getting this game.

Mercenary boasts a number of unique modes, innovative gameplay mechanics and introduces a daily ranking system to make Mercenary the most advanced, addictive multiplayer experience on the Vita.

All money earned playing the game, in any mode, can be used to purchase new weapons and equipment from Blackjack (arms dealer). These purchases can then be used in both single player campaign and multiplayer.
Once campaign missions have been completed, they can be replayed with additional contract objectives. These challenge contracts provide a set of objectives based around Covert, Demolition and precision play-styles. They are also a great way of earning V$.
Each campaign mission contains six pieces of Intel to retrieve. There are two ways of retrieving Intel; interrogate captains (marked on radar) or hacking Intel terminals. Collect all six pieces of Intel to unlock bonus Valour Cards for your Valour Collection.

The Valor System:

The Valor system operates by assigning each member of the Killzone: Mercenary community a Valor Card. Your Valor Card represents your earning ability in the game, with Ace being the highest rank and two being the lowest. You will be issued a new Valor Card once every 24 hours, your new card will be based on your recent earnings compared to all other players, this means that the value of your card can go up as well as down!

In multiplayer, players will drop an instance of their Valor Card when they die. This card can then be collected for bonus V$ and the higher the Valor of the card the greater the reward. The suit of a players Valor card represents the weapon type they have been using. To change suits a player must make consecutive kills with a specific type:

Clubs – make 7 consecutive kills with an assault rifle or LMG
Hearts – make 5 consecutive kills with a secondary weapon
Spades – make three consecutive kills with a sniper rifle
Diamonds – make 4 consecutive kills with an SMG

Valor Cards collected in multiplayer and campaign (through retrieving Intel) are placed into your Valor Collection. Your Valor Collection is represented as a pack of cards and by making “hands” (four of a kind, flush, full deck) you will gain large V$ rewards.

Now what the media guide doesn’t disclose is the amazing sound design. I usually play my Vita games with my Beats by Dre headphones & wow what a difference it makes. You can hear every zing, zap, crackle of thunder and footsteps that they programmed in to this game. I mean even without headphones you can totally tell they took the time and effort to up the sound design of this game and wow does it pay off. For example there is a 3 round burst laser sniper rifle that you have to charge before you fire it. The charging sound the rifle makes is so intense my wife thought someone was running some type of high frequency device in the area.

The multiplayer part of Mercenary is what really got me in to this game. Personally, I never almost play single player games as I find them to be unrewarding. If I want to invest in a game, I want something in return. Multiplayer PvP or player versus player is that return or reward I crave. At first I thought Mercenary multiplayer was going to be mediocre but boy, I was dead wrong. The controls are simple and easy to master. You can earn money for everything you do. You can use that money to buy weapons and equipment. The money you earn in single player can also be used in multiplayer so you wont have any trouble stacking those Vekta Benjamin.

There are these care package rocket things that drop from the sky every now and then called VAN-Guards. These things carry instant access to various mechanized weapons to aide you in your killing online players. My favorite is the VULTUR system. It highlights all the opponents in the map so you can quickly track and find them. Second favorite has to be the SKY FURY. It’s pretty much a laser guided explosive beam that shoots down from the sky. Anyone near its path will instantly get vaporized.

The multiplayer maps are well designed. They are all designed to have an indoor and outdoor part. My only wish is I would’ve loved to have an addition of a next map voting system. Like in any game, there will always be that stand out map that you never get to play on due to the lack of next map voting system. So as a result you have to wait and maybe get lucky if the map rotates back in your next session.

Overall, Killzone:Mercenary is all around perfect for the PlayStation Vita. It is that shooter we all have been waiting for and been craving ever since the release of the handheld. Soul Sacrifice was the first game I said that all Vita owners should get, however I would have to say that Mercenary takes that thunder away from Soul Sacrifice now.

[review pros=”Presentation utilizes the power of the Vita to the limits.
Single player is bearable and exciting.
Multiplayer is highly addictive.
Lots of weapons and armor combinations to experiment with.” cons=”None existent Next map voting system select in multiplayer.” score=”95″]

This review is based on a PS Vita copy of Killzone: Mercenary developed by Guerrilla Games Cambridge.