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Why Killzone 3 Doesn't Deserve A '7'

Review scores, eh?

This may contain mild story spoilers.

Here at TSA we often berate those that only pick up on a review’s final score rather than reading the text, but recently, as the reviews for Guerrilla’s Killzone 3 continue to roll in, there’s been a few low scores in amongst the mean that stand out from the crowd.  Indeed, even as Metacritic has the game locked at a superb 86% just now, seeing those sevens at the bottom of the list has prompted me into writing this brief blog.

There are three such reviews bubbling down there, at the time of going to press: two from UK magazines Edge and gamesTM and another from US website Joystiq. Thankfully, as far as I can tell most of the reviews from these publications use the ‘full’ 10/10 scale, so a ‘seven’ is two marks above average – and I’m fully aware of the subjective nature of writing reviews (and don’t claim to always get it right myself) but a seven, to me, seems off.

How off?  Well, during our own review the final score swayed a couple of times between an eight and a nine, not least because I found the single player campaign, whilst much better than Killzone 2’s, followed very familiar paths and personally at least I was hoping for a little less linearity.  But in the grand scheme of things, this tunnelling of the player isn’t unique to Killzone, having been seen in pretty much every FPS since Doom.

  • Follow up to 2009's first person shooter Killzone 2
  • Averaging 86% on Metacritic
  • Scored a 9/10 with TheSixthAxis
But is this lack of originality in the level design really enough to call the single player’s narrative a “travesty”, Joystiq?  Sure, it’s not going to win any awards for scriptwriting and plot but as far as I can see it’s tailored precisely to the game’s audience, something Braben was discussing last week.  It’s simple, narrowminded and needs a little  bit more editing towards the end (unless that was just my copy) but it’s fun, and at least offers a few little twists to keep things interesting.

I also didn’t find the game “dumb” – in fact, although I initially avoided the tougher levels in order to actually get through the game for the embargo, I did test the water on Elite mode and found it actually quite intelligent for a game featuring space marines in space shooting people with space guns.  I’m not apologising for Guerrilla’s design choices here, this is personal opinion, but I actually liked the beefed up cover mechanics and constant pacing, and the AI on Elite is brutal.

I also thought there was enough variety in the game’s levels throughout the story mode to keep things more than fresh – the ice level you’ll presumably all have played by now is a good example but the other eight or so sections revert to the typical Helghan urban sprawl only occasionally, with the sneaky stealth mission we mentioned in our review a distinct diversion.  And besides, it all ends up somewhere quite different indeed.

So is it all “predictable” as gamesTM say?  A little, perhaps, but that’s really a constant of the genre isn’t it?  And to call the single-player the “biggest disappointment of the year so far” seems like an unfair appraisal, at least to me.  I liked the plot development with the two main Helghast bad guys (the outcome of that surely wasn’t obvious) and thought the increased buddying up of Sev and Rico actually worked quite nicely, and I’m sure there’s been worse single player games this year.

Yes, some of the cut-scenes were a little bit ‘gung-ho’ and some sections of the game didn’t work as well as others, but you’ve then got to factor in the multiplayer, which is bigger in every way over Killzone 2.  The current beta might have upset a few of the hardcore but the new Operations mode is neat and the fully realised Botzone mode is the perfect training ground when you’re not quite ready for online.  It’s more accessible, more friendly and easier to get a game.

Obviously, reviews of a game are generally one person’s impressions and thoughts, and a big title like Killzone 3 is going to sell like hot-cakes regardless, but surely it’s worth more than a ‘seven’.  Guerrilla have become the flagbearer for PS3 tech – proper Move support, 3D gaming, split-screen co-op, and even if some reviewers don’t think the third game is quite as good as Killzone 2, we can only urge you to check it out for yourselves.

Killzone 3 is out next week, and scored a 9/10 in our review here.  We’d love to hear what you think about the single player experience once it’s out – why not pin this topic and come back to it then?

Update: although it’s not mentioned in the title, the gamesTM review is a single-player only review, which goes some way to explaining the score awarded. gamesTM will carry a multiplayer review in due course.

    Since: Jan 1970

    Story and gameplay wise I think Half-life 2 deserves a nod, I would say Deus ex is more of a FPS/RPG where as the Killzone series is more of a no nonsense, full fat/sugar/caffeine action FPS that doesn’t really need to make excuses about story telling.

    The Killzone series is my personal favourite out of all shooters, Gears of War a close second whilst Halo 1/2/3 were very enjoyable I think ODST and REACH were too dumbed down, shooters have moved on a lot from the days when Halo was genre leading, I personally would of given REACH a 7 as it was instantly forgetable and have not played it again since completing it. Modern Warfare 1 and 2 were good for online pick up and play value and I really enjoyed the SP so I would say a 9.

    I’ve already racked up about 20 hours on KZ3 Open Beta and completed the SP Demo on all dificulties multiple times trying to get the feel of it. I’m thoroughly enjoying it!!!!! Bought a Samsung UE55C7000 3D LED for this game and I’m awaiting the sharpshooter to see how it pushes the genre forward.

    For Killzone 3 I would say a 9 based on what I’ve played so far but hoping that the sharpshooter pushes it to a 10!!!!

    (Biased as it’s my favourite series I admit)

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 13:18.
    • AG2297
      Community Manager
      Since: Feb 2009

      Beautiful TV you have there! I cant wait to play the game on an LED TV myself.

      Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 13:56.
  2. elpablo79
    Since: May 2009

    The scores themselves seem to be used almost as if to make a point. I read the ign review on their iPhone app, the review read like a 10/10 game and the only flaw they found was with the storyline, which a lot of fps’ suffer from. It scored 8.5. I found that strange as they said the game itself played really well, which I thought mattered more

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 13:25.
    • elpablo79
      Since: May 2009

      Sorry to have to add to my own comment but I’m all for a great story, single player is very important to me, but I can’t imagine the story is that hideous, and Killzone is all about so much more.

      Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 15:06.
  3. patch
    Since: Aug 2009

    Looking back at Joystiq’s reviews I can see they’d rather play James Bond: Bloodstone and Racquet Sports more than Killzone 3… I’m guessing I’ll be ignoring their opinions on this one.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 15:17.
    • DRCD1
      Since: Dec 2008

      Was it not for the Brutal Melee, I’d certainly prefer 007: Bloodstone, but I more of a TPS lover. Now that you come to think of it, Single-player wise, judging from KZ3’s demo, they can’t be all that difrent: KZ3 has a great melee system, so does 007. KZ3 has a great cover system, so does 007. KZ3 has Jetpacks, on-rails shooting sequences and, if it’s like the previous, mechs; 007 has Focus Shots, spy investigation sequences, racing cars and at least one on-rails sequence . KZ3 has great animations, so does 007. KZ3 has great graphics… 007… not so much…

      Comment posted on 20/02/2011 at 12:28.
  4. R4U Eldave0
    Since: Aug 2008

    Judging by what I have read in some other reviews, the general opinion is that Guerilla have taken most of the things which gave KZ2 its unique feel and have turned it into a more generic shooter. ‘Generic’ typically equals 7/10. Still looking forward to it mind you, just not as much as KZ2

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 15:56.
  5. SpikeyMikey23
    Since: Jul 2009

    I cant wait, not long now. I have little doubt it will be a 10 in my book.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 16:26.
  6. uber-BARBIE
    Since: Jan 2010

    nofi got the nail hit stright on its head when he said”matter of opinion” review scores are a matter of opinion.bottom line for me is killzone 3 demo better than kz2 demo.killzone beta better than killzone 2 online.so ill give it as it stands right now for what ive seen a 9.garanteed a 10 when the full game is in my trey ;)

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 17:16.
  7. Dexter17
    Since: Jun 2009

    I agree with the way that you have conducted your point – you obviously disagree with the reviews and have justified your points as to why you disagree with them. However, the sentence that says Killzone 3 is “surely” worth more than a seven seems like you are putting too much emphasis on the score and not the words that come before it.

    I’m not saying you haven’t covered the points that the individual reviews make because you have, but the score at the bottom somehow needs to be decided, and when you aren’t working in percentages (like EDGE and GamesTM) it only takes a marginal factor to reduce a score down to a seven (or on the other hand) increase it to an eight. This means that although the reviewer may initially think of scoring an eight, a poor level or design choice may bring it down to a seven, with their being no scoring option between the two.

    Like I say, I think the article and the points you make are good, but I personally disagree with the quibbles you make about the final score.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 17:29.
  8. aerobes
    Since: Aug 2009

    Interesting reading and from a personal standpoint, I’ve usually made up my mind about a purchase before I’ve read any reviews and just read them for another persons point of view.

    Killzone 3 is probably getting this because it’s such a high profile game and I find games of such standing tend to be viewed a little differently to regular games. A seven does seem harsh from what I know of the game and the reason I want to play the game is for the very reasons it is being criticised, the single player mode.

    Only a couple of weeks now and I’ll be able to make up my own mind.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 19:15.
  9. clashcityrocker
    Since: Feb 2011

    This comment is hidden.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 19:43.
    • elpablo79
      Since: May 2009

      That link was a fascinating read!

      Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 23:35.
  10. The Solid one
    Never heard of him.
    Since: May 2010

    I don’t understand why most people think a 7,8/10 is a crap score. when i look at reviews i read them and see if that game is good or not before looking at the score and then i will see if the points above match that. I tend to avoid any games that had a review score that is under 5 as chances are it will be crap. 7/10 is a respectable score. It just means your game is very good but could have some thing improved. I hate biased reviews, luckly i only use TSA for all of my gaming related news,reviews and opinions.:)I also look at gameplay footage as well.

    Comment posted on 14/02/2011 at 21:29.

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