Killzone: Mercenary

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Killzone: Mercenary Game Poster Image
Polished but gory handheld shooter definitely not for kids.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

While elements of Killzone: Mercenary focus on teamwork and strategic reasoning, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.

Positive Messages

This game glamorizes brutal, military-style combat. More than that, it suggests that it's okay for a soldier to fight simply for money rather than for something they believe in. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many of the mercenaries in the game are little more than money-loving killers, though one does eventually exhibit humanity as well as his true beliefs when he commits a courageous, self-sacrificing act. Regardless, the protagonists in this game are soldiers for hire -- people who kill for cash, not country -- and make for decidedly poor role-models.

Ease of Play

Controls for movement, aiming, and shooting are smooth and intuitive; but non-traditional controls for melee and scope adjustments are a bit awkward. The challenge can be punishing at times, even on normal difficulty. However, checkpoints are automatic and usually closely spaced, so you'll never lose much progress.


Graphic combat sees players using a variety of weapons to shoot human soldiers (and sometimes civilians, if they get in the way). Victims typically go down screaming with red blood spurting from their bodies. Players can also engage in stealth and melee combat, drawing a knife to stab and slice enemies from a first-person view. 


One scene depicts dead people hanging, their posteriors shown.


Infrequent and mostly mild profanity, though there is the occasional "s--t."


This game is part of a popular and long-running franchise of first-person-shooters.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Killzone: Mercenary is a brutal first-person shooter brimming with bloody gun and knife combat. Humans kill humans in this sci-fi adventure, and there are times when civilians may get caught in the crossfire, screaming as they die. Unlike most shooters, the protagonists here aren't noble and courageous characters fighting for a good cause, but instead mercenaries who fight for cash rather than personal beliefs, ideologies, or countries. Parents should also note that this game supports open online play.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byGamer999 November 2, 2013

Its violent but not that bad

this game is no doubt violent however all weapons are futuristic and don't have real bullets (the knife is an exception)meaning that so long as your child... Continue reading
Adult Written byKathrine4561 September 21, 2013

For ages 13+

Killzone has defiantly made its mark on the vita forever. It's stunning graphics and beautiful gameplay rival even the console version, killzone 3. The con... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byGamersnews32 June 9, 2019

Well done handheld version of bloody mature shooter.

Killzone Mercenary is a portable entry to the mature shooter exclusive to PlayStation: "Killzone". PS VITA holds the game well. Violence is present. T... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byPSVITAGUY1234 December 19, 2014


Violence is the same as COD (call of duty), i'd recommend this game to a vita owner if they can get it under $50, remember this, vita games are expensive,... Continue reading

What's it about?

Instead of moving the ongoing Killzone sci-fi saga forward, KILLZONE: MERCENARY lets players re-experience some of the series key moments to date from the perspective of a mercenary. As Arran Danner, a soldier-for-hire, players revisit the battle for Vekta (the home world of the apparent good guys), then later moves to Helghan, the home planet of the warlike Helghast people. Fighting from a first-person perspective, players work their way through mission after mission, earning cash with which to purchase additional weapons, ammunition, and gear, such as a high-tech remote-controlled stealth drone. Competitive multiplayer, meanwhile, offers a similar first-person combat experience, with any cash earned available to be used within the single-player campaign.

Is it any good?

One of only a handful of Vita games to truly attempt to deliver on the handheld's promise of sophisticated, living room-esque action and shooting games, Killzone: Mercenary is an ambitious and visually refined experience. Its lengthy campaign missions shoot for and sometimes come very close to achieving the sort of epic grandeur of console-based games, including cinematic opening sequences of flying through cities and seamless transitions between different styles of play, such as ground warfare, mounted weapons, gunships, and stealth action.

That said, this polished -- and decidedly mature -- first-person action game also stumbles occasionally. The camera feels cramped and claustrophobic somehow, making it hard find nearby enemies. And while the controls generally feel good, the addition of touch screen actions for melee combat and rear-panel adjustments to scope zoom are a bit distracting. It's a good showcase for everything Vita is capable of, but there's still room for some improvement.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Is the same violent act made worse if the protagonist's underlying motivations have to do with self-interest rather than moral conviction? 

  • Families can also discuss people who fight for their countries and personal ideologies versus those who fight simply for a paycheck. Are private contract soldiers employed by a government as heroic as those who serve in national forces? Why or why not?

Game details

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