I am coming out of blogging retirement (it's been almost 2 years since my last for various reasons) to make an argument I feel needs to be made: Killzone 3's online suite is lame.
After having read Jim's glowing review of Killzone 3, I was pretty stoked. I know he's an adamant fan of the series, so I expected a high review score. But going so far as to call it, "...the shooter to beat," was praise I didn't quite expect. After having played plenty of KZ2, I knew the series had a particular flavor. Hearing it was the top dog (for the moment, I'm sure) was great news. Going up against the likes of Halo, Black Ops, Bad Company 2, Gears, MAG, etc. I was surprised to hear KZ3 was the winner, or at the very least a serious contender.
General character and gun design remain top notch. Too bad that doesn't equate to a good user experience... but 3D!
I've been clamoring for a PS3 game to grab my interest for ages. All my Christmas titles were for 360, so I hadn't played a good PS3 game since God of War 3. I anxiously awaited KZ3 to take up my multiplayer time until Brink launches later this year (love me some character customization). I had become bored with BC2 and Black Ops and Reach, so KZ3 looked like a new contender for my limited online hours. Too bad loading up the game and playing online was a joke.
Playing was like going backwards in a time warp. The base nature of the online experience is appallingly limited. How bad is it? Let me count the ways...
1) Three Game Modes
Three. That's it. Sure, one of them (Warzone) is comprised of four different game modes in any given match (sorry, but calling "S&D offense" and "S&D defense" two different modes doesn't count), but why are players not allowed to play the modes they want to play?
Just look at Black Ops or Halo: there are tons of modes and they are split out into different playlists and sections so the player may choose whatever modes they like. Being forced to play Warzone and trudge through the completely boring Assassination modes just because I love playing Capture the Flag is asinine and infuriating to me as someone who has played plenty of other shooters with the option. The hit detection is asinine and infuriating to me as player, too, which brings me to...
2) No hardcore Option
I've only played for 4-5 hours thus far. I will admit. However, I cannot count how many times an enemy has run straight into my hail of LMG gunfire only to wind up getting my throat slit. Huh?
I hate normal Halo and CoD. That's why I play SWAT and Hardcore modes exclusively: when I'm faster on the trigger and put bullets in your chest (or head, for SWAT), you go down. I don't. That's how it should be. Killzone's COMPLETE LACK OF THE OPTION is baffling to me. Speaking of (basic) options...
Just bleach that flag white and give up, man...
3) Map Voting/Lobby System is Awful
There are roughly 12 or so maps offered. I even got some free ones thanks to my pre-order, too. Too bad when I go to vote for them I have NO CLUE which is which.
The entire right half of the map voting screen is just red graphic nothingness. Why isn't there a picture of the map I'm voting for available? Guess what, Guerilla, I HATE the map with the green haze filter all over the place. I NEVER want to play on that map. I have yet to learn which map that is, though, so I never vote because I don't want to accidentally elect the wrong map. Thanks a lot!
Also, last night I got stuck in a match where there was no voting. I played the same map three times in a row. Going back to #1, if your servers are going to offer matches where there is no map voting and people only play on one map of their choice, it would be nice to be able to NOT GO INTO THOSE MATCHES. And no, I never touched my map preferences, because I want to play on them all anyway. So I didn't accidentally put in "Random Broken Industrial Setting #5" as my preference and got sent to that map.
4) It's Not a Cover Button... It's a Crouch Button
I was really excited when I double checked the control scheme and saw there was a "cover" mechanic before hopping online. The one thing I really felt could have made KZ2's online play even better was the inclusion of the cover mechanic from the single player campaign. I was really let down it wasn't in the multiplayer. Too bad I was completely wrong.
The "cover" button is apparently the worst cover system ever. It's the crouch button. Call it crouch. There is no geometry adhesion or blindfire or shooting around corners. It's simply crouching.
I was really hoping Guerilla was going to take a cue from Activision and Goldeneye 007 and refine their cover mechanic and turn into something fluid and usable. Hey, maybe they did for the single player campaign, but it sure didn't make its way online.
[Note: I have since put in an hour or so into the campaign and can say that the cover mechanic is awful. Once you take cover you're awkwardly stuck behind that point and have to exit cover manually to move instead of being able to pull away from it dynamically. Not quite the smoothest in the industry, that's for sure. Should have looked at what Goldeneye did...]
That's right, this game has a better cover mechanic... and it's on Wii. Eat it, PS3 (and 360, actually, as your top FPS games can't compete either).
Side Note: Goldeneye 007's cover mechanic is, if you haven't tried it, the most elegant FPS cover mechanic I have ever experienced: simply crouch wherever you want and if you happen to be behind something blocking your vision, when you aim down your sights you automatically pop up from behind it to shoot. It's genius! It's even included in the online suite!
5) No Easy Way to Squad Up
Maybe I'm just missing it, but I can't seem to ever find a way to enter a squad without inviting my PS3 friends (none of whom play online FPS games and thus don't own the game) to enter my squad in a match. What happened to the Bad Company 2-esque ability to join open squads with random people in your match and have a go like in KZ2? I know the feature used to be there, I used it all the time. It was right on the pre-game lobby screen. That screen is gone, though, so... yeah.
I have looked far and wide for this ability at the beginning of every match and have yet to discover it. If I'm just stupid and missed it, someone please tell me. If they could make the option a bit more apparent that would help, too.
6) No Video Capture Ability
Seriously, I just figured this had become standard on all top-tier shooters by now. I may not use it, but I know lots of people who do. Why not include it and stay up to par?
I can't even complain anymore. I'm so depressed at what this game lacks. Sure, the unlock system is cool and the guns all look awesome. The team-based gameplay is cool, too. But the overall experience is simply... lacking. Lacking in basic features in the clearest of senses.
If this is the best online shooter that PS3 has to offer, it's no wonder that 360 is the console to go to for shooter fans. I'm sorely disappointed thus far in what KZ3 offers. I expected this game to last me until Brink arrives. I'll be surprised if it lasts me another week or two.