2013 09 25 Game Review Killzone Mercenary 500

I was really excited for Killzone: Mercenary when it was announced. For me, it still represents one of the few reasons to own a Vita. It’s a great entry in a franchise that has become a tent-pole of Sony’s exclusive game library. And while the Killzone franchise has never been the most accessible first person shooter on the market, it is both frustrating and heartening to see the new things that Killzone: Mercenary did, both those that helped and those that hindered the accessibility of the title for most physically disabled gamers.

 

To begin with, players with visual disabilities will be happy to know that the only barriers in Mercenary are barriers that they would encounter in any Killzone game, namely, that given the game’s dark, industrial color scheme, it can be very easy to lose a bead on an enemy when they blend into the background. On the flip side, visually impaired gamers will be happy to know that nothing in Mercenary relies explicitly on the ability to see color and that important details are either large enough easily to be seen or highlighted using a white shimmer that stands out against the game’s bleak color scheme. The only frustrating part is that because of the game’s unforgiving nature, even something as simple as not seeing an enemy who is camouflaged in the background can send players into vicious repeating cycles that risk sapping all the fun out of the game. But since this is literally the only barrier for visually impaired gamers, if such players can find a way around this issue they should have no problem enjoying Killzone: Mercenary.

 

Unfortunately, the game’s unforgiving nature poses an even bigger problem for gamers with fine motor impairments. In recent memory, the Killzone series has not had the benefit of customizable controls, and the lack of checkpoints that save when you turn your Vita off makes this very noticeable. It is impossible to count how many times I retreaded the same ground and died because I could not wrap my hands around the Vita or move fast enough to do what I needed to do. There are some new features in Mercenary that help mitigate this barrier. For starters, being able to reequip your character using Blackjack’s armory in the middle of a level is great—but there’s a drawback: if players don’t have the credits to buy the equipment they need, they’re left out in the cold. However, I have found that the game gets easier once players unlock certain sets of equipment. Also, many of the levels feature a stealth option that will reward players for not being spotted as they sneak past squads of Helghast guards and ISA troops.

 

More good news stems from the fact that the game’s quick time events are not nearly an unforgiving as they seemed in some trailers. Yes, it is true that players will have to use the touch screen to execute Killzone’s trademark brutal melee moves, but in my own play through, I had no problem functioning under the extremely lax time limits that these maneuvers impose. Beyond this, the only other QTEs were found in the game’s hacking mechanic, which can pose a barrier since players must scramble to match symbols in a puzzle-type mini-game with a time limit that all too often proves too short. The real disappointment is not that the traditional Killzone barriers are there, but rather that some of the new features that Guerilla Cambridge included seem to aggravate these errors rather than alleviate them.

 

Players with hearing disabilities won’t face as many barriers to this game as other disabled gamers, but there are still a couple. The good news is that the story-driven cinematics are completely subtitled and that the guards’ alertness levels are indicated using color as well as sound, but all too often, the in-level dialog between Danner and his partners is lost due to infrequent subtitle usage. Beyond this one annoyance, however, there are no barriers in Killzone: Mercenary for players with heading disabilities, and it may even by worth purchasing the handheld just to experience.

 

Please feel free to leave comments below the article that address your particular accessibility challenges with this game. If you feel there is a major omission in this review, please feel free to e-mail dagersystem@gmail.com with the word “revision” in the subject line. Please include specific details regarding anything we may have missed. If necessary, we will update our review based on your feedback.

 

Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released For: Vita
ESRB Rating: M
GameInformer Score: 8.00

 

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The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Killzone: Mercenary

 

Disability Pros Cons
Visual

 

– Nothing relies on color alone.
– Most of the important elements of the game are large and easy to see.
– Small important elements are highlighted.

In certain cases enemies can blend into the background.

Fine Motor

 

– Stealth is an option in certain areas in this game.
– Nothing in the main game relies on quick reflexes.
– QTEs that trigger melee attacks are very forgiving.
– The game features the option to disable the Vita’s gyroscope and rear touchpad.
– Players have the option to customize their character to fit their play style.

 

– Players need quick reflexes with both hands to progress through this game.
– There is one mini-game crucial at certain points that requires players to match symbols under a time limit.
– Game is fairly unforgiving.
– Player customization is tied to the number of credits (points) a player earns.
– No controller customization.

Auditory

 

– The storyline and all cinematics were fully subtitled.
– The guards’ awareness level is denoted by their color on the radar.

– Guards’ reactions are not subtitled.
– In-level dialog is not completely subtitled, though subtitles are present.

 

 

 

Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released For: Vita
ESRB Rating: M
GameInformer Score: 8.00

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