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'Killzone 3' latest in line of successes for PlayStation 3

Killzone 3’s nifty jetpacking section is pretty analogous to the console’s jump in popularity.

SCEA

Killzone 3’s nifty jetpacking section is pretty analogous to the console’s jump in popularity.

In the years I've spent writing about video games in tbt*, I've been accused countless times of anti-PS3 bias. No matter what argument I mounted — poor game library, cumbersome hardware, prohibitive pricing — I've always been accused of favoring the Xbox 360, just because it had the better angle on the market.

Mark these words then, Sony fanboys: With the release of Killzone 3 on Tuesday, four years after the system's launch, the PlayStation 3 officially has come into its own.

Oh, I know that's an oversimplification. More than 47.9 million consoles have been sold, and the library stretches over hundreds of games. And it's sheer lunacy to think one title heralds the viability of an entire platform (unless you're talking about Nintendo, which actually relies on two titles), but hear me out.

With the release of Guerilla's latest entry, Sony Computer Entertainment of America has a bonafide exclusive FPS champion to augment its Resistance series (Part 3 of that saga isn't due until Sept. 6, at last count). It has a multiplayer experience to rival Microsoft's Halo. It has established a bulwark in the increasingly popular post-holiday release period. And SCEA has a one-two punch in proprietary titles to go along with January's Little Big Planet 2.

While sales numbers won't be known until next month, Killzone 3 enjoyed healthy pre-orders, despite the contents being leaked to torrent sites two weeks before release. That may be because the developer decided to continue the new Killzone tradition of a rich multiplayer experience, which uses game modes and classifications so balanced and fun to play, it's worth the $60, even if the single-player narrative of ISA soldier Sev hadn't been included. Well, maybe the infiltrator perk is a bit much, but it's so much fun to practically walk right up to an oblivious opponent and stab him in the face that I can overlook the unfair advantage.

The additions to the gameplay, like new vehicle sections and nifty assassinations a la Halo: Reach, are enough to make the game feel fresh. Once again I'm being lenient, as I said Reach's similar improvements weren't enough for a Halo installment, but we're only on Killzone's third act (fourth if you count the PSP installment, Liberation). Anyone who played the 2004 original on the PlayStation 2 knows how far the series has come.

That's a parallel to the PS3 as a whole, which has gone from a distant third in the console wars' seventh generation to an almost neck-and-neck wrestling match with Microsoft's 50 million units sold. Nintendo, meanwhile, continues only to tout the number of more than 84 million Wiis shipped, not sold, but they still reign despite precipitously dropping current sales numbers.

This is a bellwether for Sony's games division, which has taken numerous hits for missteps in the PS3's life. The company has a system that boasts identifiable heroes and franchises like Uncharted's Nathan Drake, God of War's Kratos, Little Big Planet's Sackboy and Resistance's Nathan Hale — although he was killed last go-'round. They have a bevy of titles that show experimentation with the medium like Heavy Rain and the new Move accessory, as derivative as the Wii-like motion controls are. And it has managed to expand into the licensed multi-platform titles as well, even wresting Mass Effect 2 from Microsoft's exclusivity, despite Bioware's previous hostility to the black box.

It's been quite awhile since Insomniac Games CCO Brian Hastings penned his 2007 diatribe "10 Reasons Why PS3 Will Win This Console Generation," bucking the conventional wisdom at the time that the system would crash and burn miserably over the $600 launch price. His predictions that Home and HDMI would be the console's major selling points didn't pan out so much, but the inclusion of a Blu-Ray player hasn't hurt, now that the technology is cheaper. He also had a major point that the CPU was better and online access was free.

But at the end of the day, it seems the PS3 is solidifying its base by doing what it specifically tried to avoid in its advertising: Being simply as good as, not better than, the 360. And Killzone 3 proves it.

— Joshua Gillin writes about video games and entertainment news for tbt*. Feel free to challenge his opinions at jgillin@tampabay.com.

'Killzone 3' latest in line of successes for PlayStation 3 02/23/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 10:51pm]

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