Memorable for placing players in an immersive world unlike many seen in modern gaming, the Killzone franchise has returned for a third installment, depicting an interplanetary conflict in which you are a key player. Will this PlayStation 3 exclusive be a distinguished shooter of this console generation or fall to the wayside?

Dominated by overarching themes of militaristic aggression and fascism, the campaign focuses on the war between the ISA and the Helghast. Players are again thrown into the shoes of Sev, a member of a squadron commissioned by the ISA. Abandoned on the hellish planet of the Helghast, he is forced to kill as many of his red-goggled enemies as he can before he is caught, killed, or rescued. Herman Hulst, a representative from Guerilla Games, the developer of the series, described the story succinctly in saying:

It’s David vs. Goliath, but this time Goliath has bought a thousand troops and a thermonuclear arsenal.

Unfortunately, it appears as if the story that drives players forward is not as immersive as its predecessor, featuring one-dimensional, static characters, all of which are unlikable. The dialogue between players is relatively uninteresting, acting more like an intrusion than a significant contribution to the game’s overall story development.

Where Killzone 3 exceeds expectations is in the gameplay department, as Guerilla is one of the best developers at adding weight to the first-person experience. When you reload your gun, your vision is impaired as you are focusing on it. When your climbing up a ladder, the camera wobbles like your head would. While it is interesting to play in this way, the controls from Killzone 2 felt clunky and were very difficult to adjust to. that has changed in Killzone 3, as players do not have to compromise the heaviness of combat for responsive controls.

Killzone 3 is not too shabby in the graphics department either. Running on the same engine as its predecessor, textures run smoothly and an expansive, torn environment thrives under the conditions. In comparison to Killzone 2, the environments are much more varied, featuring everything from deteriorating urban landscapes to arctic battlefields. Enemies respond appropriately in each environment, falling off of cliffs or screaming in agony as they are incinerated. There is an eerily human aspect to the environment because the twisted metal and decaying concrete feel so real, as if they were pulled out of pictures that one sees of modern warfare.

Despite the fact that the story generally lacks substance, the multiplayer is what will keep you coming back. Featuring all of the staples of first-person shooters, Team Deathmatch and other objective games, as well as a new Operations Mode, where players are directly inserted into cutscenes that connect them to objectives, Killzone 3’s multiplayer is one of the best exclusive to PlayStation 3 owners. There is also a revamped leveling system, which allows you to purchase what you want, allowing you to change classes in an intuitive fashion.

Separate from the campaign and multiplayer is the cooperative mode, but you have to be sitting on your couch with a friend in order to play this. There is no way to play with your friends over the Internet. It is refreshing to finally have the option to play with a friend, as the squad-styled gameplay has always lent itself towards its inclusion.

Killzone 3 is the first game in the series to have Move-compatibility as well as the option for 3D viewing. While optional, it is a nice addition to the game. Initial reports have indicated that there are some glitches with the three-dimensional system, including blurry, imprecise polygons and ghosting of interface elements.

Right now there is an open multiplayer beta, as well as a demo showing off the single-player experience available on PlayStation Network. The campaign demo comes in two separate downloads for both 3D and 2D play, but the 3D play lacks the co-op option. Taking place on the level “Icy Incursion,” players are also given the option to try out PlayStation Move’s controls.

After the game is launched, there will be significant downloadable content available for download. The first piece is the “Retro Map Pack,” consisting of two of the most popular maps from Killzone 2, both optimized for play in Killzone 3.

What do you, fellow gamers, think? Are you going to shell out the cash necessary to get your hands on Killzone 3 or are you willing to wait? Let us know in the comments below.