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Space mercenaries run amuck

A screenshot from Killzone: Mercenary

War is your business. Killzone: Mercenary’s tagline pretty much sums up all that is to be seen and experienced in the titular hand-held shooter. As a spin-off of the widely-acclaimed Killzone series, Mercenary pits the player as a gun-for-hire in the intense interplanetary war.

Killzone: Mercenary is set during the conflict between the planets Helghan and Vekta. The game starts with the defense of planet Vekta, with Danner rescuing a Vektan admiral. The story then evolves into a ‘getting personal’ theme which also shows Danner taking jobs from both the warring factions.

For a portable shooter, Killzone: Mercenary works well with the PS Vita. The shooting mechanics are reminiscent of its console brothers as the two joysticks make aiming more accurate. Just think of it as a mini version of the Killzones in the consoles. The looks and the mechanics are similar, yet the executions are different as the portable spin-off makes good use of the touch screen.

Mercenary lives up to its name as whenever the player does something, money is earned. The more creative or harder the execution, the better the game pays you. Pass through a section undetected and you get bonus points, pick-up ammo and you also get points. These funds can then be used to buy different weapons and loadouts.

The equipment also provides the player with advantages depending on the play style. Some vests are light and fast, while others are bulky but offer more protection, these items then help the player to choose between an explosive and a subtle approach. Other items, namely the Vanguards, provide additional abilities and perks to the player. Some of which is the ability to call down orbital bombardments and launch spy drones.

In terms of multiplayer, Killzone: Mercenary finds a good spot for those looking for a console shooter in a portable handheld. There are only three game modes present and six maps to choose from. Modes include: Free-for-all, Guerilla Warfare, and Warzone. Guerilla Warfare is the team deathmatch equivalent of Killzone, while Warzone cycles dishes out objectives for opposing teams to follow and outmatch each other.

Overall, Killzone: Mercenary shows how a portable shooter should be done. The learning curve is easy and the graphics push the Vita to its limits. The touchscreen functions are not that intrusive and it won’t nag you while playing the game. I also encountered some bugs, but none of which proved gamebreaking. With all that, we definitely recommend Killzone: Mercenary to gamers looking for a decent shooter in an on-the-go form.