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Killzone 3: a script worse than this.

There’s a bit in Apocalypse Now when, after a fleet of helicopters blow the shit out of a Vietnamese village to the sound of Ride of the Valkyries, Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard exits a helicopter and crouches down, taking a respite from the vagaries of war. There he meets the film’s director, Francis Ford Coppolla, tongue wedged in bearded cheek, playing a TV documentarian, but also kind of playing himself, encouraging Sheen to get back in the fight.

This, by way of the protective casing that protects a nut, is Killzone 3: a lively, noisy, visually resplendent trudge through an intergalactic war that practically begs you to stop looking for its seams and instead lay back and surrender to its cacophony of high-octane balletics and knuckle-headed priapism. But we don’t get a virtual Francis Ford Coppolla pleading with us in Killzone 3, we get a giant mechanical spider that fires rockets, a large land-based ship that appears to be made from chainsaws and a fleet of flying troop carriers that – throughout the campaign’s brief running time – support more cocks than a strumpet’s bedpost.

But if the visual aspect of Killzone 3 is arranged by Coppolla at the peak of his directorial powers then, unfortunately, the story is coordinated by the director of Jack, a film where horrors were conveyed in a less spectacular fashion: a 10 year old boy cursed with the body of Robin Williams. It would be apt to think that you’re looking through rose tinted glasses but Killzone 2 shared many elements with its follow-up – it was another brief one-note tour through an intergalactic dump and featured, in Rico, one of the most punchable fictional characters in virtual existence – and still, in my very humble opinion, rose above the sum of its parts to become one of the most enjoyable first person shooters in recent years.

Sure, in the grand scheme of things Killzone 2 was about as imaginative as a BBC drama but its mechanics were solid and its campaign was consistently believable – at least within the parameters of the universe it established. But whatever criticism was levelled at Killzone 2, on the evidence of part 3, it’s obvious that those regarding its looks have stuck in the developers’ minds. So instead of a nightmarish tour through a dusty, wind-swept rock, we get to visit other areas that appear to have been pulled out of the ‘Obvious Ideas’ drawer, such as a bit with snow and a jungle that – through its spaghetti plants – features the least convincing display of stealth since Shinobi proudly declared himself the world’s least successful ninja.

Of course you can pretty much rebuff any criticism levelled at the story of a game called ‘Killzone’ because, let’s face it, it could equally be called ‘Space Nazis Must Die’ and the only compromise in its mission statement would be one of brevity. But for those who could ignore the previous game’s shortcomings, it’s a little annoying that they didn’t bother to present a more compelling story, or make the characters more likable, short of making Rico less of a dick and taking scissors to some of the salty language.

So what you’re left with is essentially a simulation of the world’s worst package holiday: you take a tour of an exotic location with a bunch of people you’d avoid in your normal life and when you arrive at your destination you meet a bunch of surly locals who’ve put all their resources into developing weapons to explode you. I’ve heard theories that the developers are taking a Starship Troopers approach with Killzone: using sci-fi to skewer gung-ho imperialism but that’s just bollocks really isn’t it. Equally unlikely is the idea that you’re playing as the villain, as Killzone 3 presents the opposing force as an even more reprehensible bunch of toss-pipes.

If Killzone 3 is an example of anything, it’s rampant ‘sequelitis’ – something that plunges to such new levels of uninspired mediocrity that the creation of a new term is warranted. Stuff is just thrown at you for the sake of it with no other thought except giving you something new to shoot. Of course multi-player is often the saviour of the modern FPS – allowing for any number of demi-bottomed single-player campaigns to be forgiven, providing the mechanics are solid enough to satisfy when you’re getting shot at by potty-mouthed teens from around the globe. Sadly, I found getting shot at by potty mouthed teens on Killzone 3 to be largely un-enjoyable.

This is where I should write a conclusion, but, like Killzone, I’m not very good with endings so I think I’ll just stop here and ask you to insert a fairly pedestrian cliffhanger of your choice.

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