Killzone 3: putting mad damage into it

, | Game diaries

Voice chat isn’t as ubiquitous on the Playstation 3 as it is on the Xbox 360. I get through entire matches of Killzone 3 without hearing a word. But between matches, a few of the 20+ players have hooked up Bluetooth headsets and I can hear them chat with each other. Which is how I heard what might be my favorite thing ever overheard in a multiplayer game.

After the jump, online gamers say the darndest things

“That tomchick. He just be sitting in that little doorway, waitin’. And he got his shottie, so he be putting mad damage into it.”

That’s what I heard over my speakers when the post-game stats appeared. I had just killed the guy at the very end of the match, in that short gap between us getting the final objective (warzone is a series of randomly determined objectives on big maps) and the game being called for our team. I had seen him coming up, clear as day, because I had my recon skill activated. The final objective was for us to defend a location from the other team. They had to plant charges and then defend them while the timer counts down.

It was the perfect set up for me. I’ve been playing the tactician, and in three hours of play, I’ve earned enough unlock points to upgrade my secondary skill all the way. This gives me the recon ability to see everyone within 30 meters (1 point) , and a deployable sentry bot (2 points), upgraded (3 points) of course, that flies around shooting at enemies I often never even see. Sometimes I see movement out of the corner of my eye and I think, “Gah, a dude with a jetpack!”, but it’s only my own sentry bot hovering politely. Sometimes a message pops up on my screen and I get 100 points for a sentry kill. Sometimes I hear it firing and I follow the line of tracers to see someone busy ducking away from the sentry bot’s fire, often into a perfect position for my new LS13 shotgun (2 points).

Did I mention the shotgun? I got tired of plinking at enemies with the default SMG, which is the equivalent of tapping someone on the shoulder so he knows to turn around and kill me. I’ve also automatically earned the armor bonus, which gives me a reassuringly dark green section on my health bar to absorb extra damage. On a few occasions, I’ve gone toe-to-toe with someone else, only to emerge last man standing by the grace of that little dark green section.

During this last objective, most of my team was covering the main approach, so I worked my way around to a side approach. It was a dooryway located right at a spawn point, situated temptingly at the bottom of the big funnel-shaped map. I deployed my sentry and crouched near the doorway. I used my recon ability as I could, watching the occasional red dot wend its way towards my doorway, obviously thinking he’s pretty smart to take a side approach. Usually, my sentry bot would rattle it’s machine gun early enough to attract attention. But it was my LS13 shotgun that invariably sealed the deal. It was my first match with more kills than deaths.

“That tomchick. He just be sitting in that little doorway, waitin’. And he got his shottie, so he be putting mad damage into it.”

The guy wasn’t mad. His tone wasn’t “that tomchick, he a fag”, but it was more like “that tomchick, he all right”. It really made my night, which was already pretty enjoyable thanks to a few rounds of Killzone 3.

All the matches I won tonight were won by managing the map as a tactician, which is the only class who can capture spawn points. Once you lock down the spawn points and leave the other team only it’s starting base, you know the exact direction from which the enemy will approach. So as the objectives shift around the map, there’s a clear sense of the enemy’s axis of attack. I’ll activate my recon ability and see a single straight line of red dots moving towards the objective, ripe for the flanking.

Furthermore, with more spawn points captured, your team has all the flexibility for spawning closer to the current objective. It’s a canny territory control subgame, and as a tactician, I’m the only class who can play it. Sure, medics revive people (or don’t, as is more often the case in Killzone 3, because the respawn timer is so short) and engineers build turrets and secure ammo resupply. But I’d hate to be on a team without a few tacticians who know what they’re doing.

Killzone 3 isn’t as epic or sprawling as MAG, and it’s not as frantic and sloppily challenging as Call of Duty: Black Ops. It’s got the very nice sense of focus that comes with a developer iterating gameplay. I love the variety and fluidity that comes with the warzone mode. Furthermore, I’ve resigned myself to these unlockable abilities and weapons. It’s an established convention of Call of Duty and Bad Company, so if Activision and EA are going to do it, Sony may as well, too. Consider it the way of the genre. But I wish the unlockables didn’t ossify my role so that I’m always and only playing one class. That’s another reason that Section 8 is such a fantastic game. You could swap roles freely, as needed. You had everything unlocked from the very first time you jumped into a game. It was a complete toy box, wide open for everyone, unafraid of giving the veteran players the same tools as the new players. In Section 8, everything evolved over the course of one match. Meta-game leveling is an incredibly cheap gameplay hook. But, I confess, incredibly effective.

The real irony is that I thought I’d be playing Bulletstorm all week after a few dismissive remarks about Killzone 3. Funny how videogaming still has the capacity to surprise even the most jaded among us.

Up next: assassination tango
Click here for ten things you should know about multiplayer in Killzone 3.