A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- Platforms: PlayStation Vita
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: $39.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: September 10, 2013
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Partial Nudity
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.