To my great shame, I’ve not played any console based Killzone games, so I’m unsure of how the Vita’s first in the franchise stacks up. As an FPS in general though, particularly as handheld shooters go, it’s a great first shot delivering the console quality Sony always promised for Vita.
Mercenary’s graphics are undeniably gorgeous, particularly for a handheld game. Using the same engine as Killzone 3 for PS3, the various mission environments and multiplayer maps on Vekta and Helghan are wonderfully detailed and feel console quality, delivering a brilliant shooter experience that the Vita has yet to deliver with any other title. To have an experience on handheld comparable to a console FPS is definitely a step in the right direction for the Vita.
The experience is complemented by Mercenary’s excellent gameplay. Mercenary makes great use of the Vita’s touchscreen to compensate for the lack of secondary shoulder buttons for grenade throwing, sprinting and melee kills. Mercenary also utilises an excellent upgrades system that ties into the story nicely. The more kills and headshots etc. a player gets throughout the missions, the more money you get for your efforts, which can be spent at ‘Blackjack’s Armoury’, checkpoints in each mission placed there by Blackjack the Arms Dealer, with purchases being available for both your single and multiplayer profiles.
For all of Mercenary’s positive points, however, it is still marred by minor faults. The campaign is fairly short despite attempts to increase replay value by including various contract types, where you replay story missions with much more specific objectives. However these objectives feel aimed at very elite FPS players and require many plays to figure out routines in order to complete them, but the faults with these missions are made up for by Mercenary’s excellent multiplayer modes which do wonders to increase replay value.
Overall Killzone: Mercenary is a fine shooter, particularly for a handheld title. It delivers a console quality experience tarnished only by a few minor issues, making it certainly worth a purchase for Vita owners.