There's a common thread running throughout Killzone: Mercenary. From the single-player campaign to the online multiplayer, the entire experience is seamlessly tied together by one thing: Money. It's all about the next paycheck.
Reaping the spoils of war is the order of the day. Whether you're completing story missions or testing your mettle on PSN, Killzone: Mercenary turns on investing in yourself. Cash can be earned and shared throughout the first-person shooter's various gameplay modes, allowing players the opportunity to purchase new weapons and equipment from arms dealers.
This is a game about sellswords, after all. The life of a professional killer is a balancing act with steep consequences. In order to stay alive for the next big payday, you'll need the right tools for the job.
Killzone: Mercenary is pretty remarkable. Over the past several weeks I had the opportunity to experience the title during its closed multiplayer beta and check out one of its nine single-player missions. Even after spending hours upon hours battling in the trenches, I continue to be amazed at how good it feels.
It's astounding how closely Killzone: Mercenary resembles its console brethren. Unlike previous attempts to bring other big first-person shooter franchises to the PlayStation Vita, it's clear the team at Guerrilla Cambridge care about what they're making. The developers don't seem content just to churn out any old portable shooter. They're trying to meet the high standard set forth by its excellent predecessors, and, aside from a few minor gripes stemming from the limitations of the platform and its inability to perfectly mimic a DualShock controller, it looks like they're doing a fantastic job.
Despite feeling very similar to Killzone 3, it's also a total breath of fresh air. In addition to giving players a new perspective as guns for hire working on both sides of the Helghast-ISA conflict, Killzone: Mercenary is forging ahead on its own path.
Single-player missions still revolve around the cover-based shooting. Fans of the series are already well versed in that. However, there's a new twist in that mercenaries' duty involves collecting intel. Now, there's a couple ways of doing this. You can beat information out of enemy captains through interrogation or hack terminals. Personally, I'm partial to the latter. Terminal hacking involves these fun little geometric puzzle matching sequences that provide a welcome reprieve from spraying bullets and dodging enemy fire. It's refreshing, really.
Collecting intel is important in that it helps unlock bonus Valor Cards. Now, what are those exactly? Well, each player is assigned a card every day that represents their performance compared with the rest of the community. When a player is killed in one of Killzone: Mecenary's three multiplayer modes, they will drop an instance of their card. These can be collected by other players for monetary bonuses. The higher the value of the card, the more cash players will earn. Furthermore, cards can be collected to form Poker hands, which net even more money.
The Valor System actually changed the way I approached the game. It encourages a more aggressive style of play where those on the front lines are rewarded for getting into the thick of battle. However, there's also reason for caution. Will you risk running out into the open to snag a card? One of your felled foes' comrades likely has her sights trained on the card just waiting for you to walk into her cross-hairs.
The system of risks and rewards is an interesting representation of how mercenaries risk their lives for a paycheck. Should you be willing to take that gamble, you'll have an opportunity to enlist in Killzone: Mercenary's open beta over the next couple weeks. PlayStation Plus subscribers can get in on the action right now, whereas everyone else will have to wait until next week.