Killzone: Liberation is a 2006 portable follow-up to the popular PlayStation 2 first-person shooter. A couple of levels in, I am very pleased with my purchase. This is how games on the platform should be made.
Liberation does not attempt to replicate the PS2 original in any way. It completely reimagines it, taking a top-down, thirdperson approach, keeping only the context and art of the original. It manages to take the excitement of a warzone FPS and translate it onto the considerably more limited controls of the portable platform, slowing the pace just enough to allow the player to cope.
The production values are excellent. Liberation looks fantastic, if you like the Killzone aesthetic. It’s not for everyone, as everything is grey and war-torn and a touch too macho to be taken at face value, but within the confines its set, it’s as good as it gets. Everything is supported by great animation, an eye for what’s important to the player – it’s easy to see the gunfire you need to dodge – and very well-considered physics. The height differences could be easier to judge in a glance, though, but clever interface design helps you with that, too.
You never run out of buttons on the PSP, because you don’t need to control the camera and your avatar is capable enough to draw a bead to the enemy he’s facing on his own. A fine auto-aim system has just the right approach to help you to overcome the limitations of the PSP’s analogue nub. There’s a command system you use when you’re fighting with a comrade, which puts the game to slow motion while you consider your options. It works so well it makes me wish I had buddies along all the time, which is very rare for a game of this type.
As a cool idea they’ve locked some of the content on the website until you complete sections of the game and otherwise tie the online content to what’s gone down in your PSP game session, like showing what map you’ve last been playing, what’s your favorite weapon and so on. That’s certainly something I’d like to see more of. I hear there’s an excellent co-op mode and fine multiplayer in it, too, but I haven’t taken a look at those, yet. Much of the online stuff was added later, in the first half of 2007, including a whole new free chapter, adding some 25% of single-player content. Way to go!