I bought Killzone Mercenary the week it launched here in Europe and it was my first card released games I got for the Vita. The handheld being my travel console of choice, I prefer digital games, since I don’t want to carry the cards with me. Yet, it’s nice to get a physical game once in a while and since I expected big things from Killzone, I decided to add its box to my collection. I’ve written about my adventures with Killzone Mercenary before and I’ve been enjoying the game ever since I started playing it five months ago.
Being the trophy whunter I am, I considered having a go at the Platinum trophy but the prospect of spending many hours playing online and thinking I would suck at it made it seem unreachable. However, it turned out that multiplayer was fun and I was able to compete with many of other players and after around 50 hours of gameplay the final trophy popped up in the upper right corner of the Vita’s display.
In my previous posts I already wrote that Killzone Mercenary is a very good game and it plays really well on the handheld. This was my first title in the series so it is impossible for me to compare it with previous installments on the big consoles, but it compares favorably to other shooter I’ve had experience with. The game looks great and it can surely compete with some of the PS3 titles, even though the texture quality isn’t the best in some places and the physics engine glitches from time to time but those are problems that many games still have problems with.
The most important thing is that the game is fun to play throughout its multiplayer challenges and its 9 mission campaign, which can be replayed on different difficulty levels and with different contracts. The latter force the player to beat the mission in a certain way, either stealthily or with guns blazing, usually requiring the player to defeat a given number of enemies with a given gun or to avoid being detected in certain sections of the map. There are four contract types per mission, which increases the number of challenges to 36 while drastically changing the way the game is played. In my opinion, it makes playing the missions again worthwhile. Obviously, it is a must on the path to the Platinum trophy.
Speaking of which, let’s not delay it any longer, and let’s dive into an overview of the most memorable trophies that Killzone had to offer on my 50+ hour grind. You can read my earlier Merecenary trophy stories here and here so in this post I’ll focus only on the most recent ones.
|Complete 100 Multiplayer game rounds|
| Blood Bank
|Kill 10,000 enemies|
|Earn 1,000,000 Vektan dollars|
A PSN friend of mine, CherryChill, with whom I played some Killzone multiplayer and who unlocked the Platinum trophy just a few days ahead of me, told me that each Killzone Platinum requires grinding… and lots of it. Let me start by saying that he wasn’t wrong about that in case of Mercenary. At first, I thought that getting to 100 multiplayer games would be the biggest problem. 100 games, 10 minutes each, add 2 minutes waiting time between matches, adds up to almost 19 hours. OK, maybe some of the games end before the time runs out but, on the other hand, the connection is sometimes lost so that number seems probable. It seems a lot and it is a lot, although I will say it again that multiplayer in Killzone Mercenary is fun and I’m looking forward to going back to it once the new maps are released sometime soon.
However, I wasn’t expecting what came next. It kind of slipped my mind that after completing the campaign the body count in my profile was ‘only’ around 5000, which is half of what is required for the other ‘grindful’ trophy. Still, I thought that the multiplayer games would take care of the rest. Oh, how wrong I was. 100 multiplayer games added mere 975 downed enemies, which meant that I somehow had to come up with over 4000 more bodies. Playing over 400 more online games was out of the question – I want to play other games as well – so the quickest way to do it meant finding a campaign mission with the highest bodies/minute ratio and grind it over and over again. Talk about desensitisizng our youth to death…
I consulted CherryChill and some online guides and the consensus was that mission 4 – The Package – was the way to go. By the time I was getting close to the 10000 mark, I knew exactly where and when the enemies would pop up and I was simply plowing through them. I used the Arc Missile VAN-Guard, which is able to take down around 10 enemies on its own and with the Supply Armor on and many other foes running around, replenishing its energy was not difficult. Add an SMG, a shotgun and frag grenades to the mix, and the mission can be completed in less than 15 minutes with approximately 100 downed enemies. If only the cutscenes were skippable…
By the way, don’t worry about the money – by the time I was done, I had almost twice as much as was required for the trophy. Also, the money doesn’t have to be in your account, it’s the total amount gained that counts, so feel free to reup with Blackjack, if you need, although that shouldn’t be necessary at the easiest difficulty.
| Killing Machine
|Achieve a 10 kill streak in Multiplayer|
I mentioned already that how well I was doing at multiplayer came as a surprise to me. Still, getting 10 kills in a row seemed unreachable without boosting. In the end, it wasn’t as difficult as I initially thought, although a proper loadout is advised as is some practice. The guns are not as important, so it’s best to go with something that fits your playstyle. I use the STA-52SE Assault Rifle and the LS13 Shotgun almost exclusively online. However, the choice of the grenades and the VAN Guard is crucial. I found that using the proximity mines coupled with the Mantis Engine gives the best results. Leave the two mines in passages that are often used by other players for up to two ‘free’ frags, if you’re using the Supply Armor. Hopefully, you’ll get a couple of normal kills with your weapons of choice and the VAN Guard will become available. Find a good place to hide and unleash the Engine, which, with some practice, will give you 4-5 additional frags. If the mines work, you will need just a frag or two more to get to 10. It’s not extremely easy but within the 100 multiplayer games it is certainly within reach. I would also advise playing the Guerrilla Warfare mode, since it’s easier to stay alive with only 4 other players trying to get you, instead of 7.
| Full Deck
|Collect a full deck of Valor cards|
| Aces High
|Attain an ace Valor card ranking|
The Valor cards seemed like a fun idea when I first started playing the game, and especially the multiplayer. The players get rated based on some criteria, which allows others to see if they are good or not (indicated by the card value) and which kind of weapons they prefer (indicated by the suit). Picking up the cards on the battlefield gives extra cash and fills up the deck of cards that produces even more Vektan dollars once it’s completed. In reality, however, most of the active multiplayer players have relatively high rankings – from Jack to Ace – and collecting the lower-valued cards is not that easy. Fortunately, the single player campaign also awards the player those Valor cards, so completing one full deck shouldn’t be a problem. However, even though I played over 100 multiplayer games, I was never able to completed a second one.
Although I mentioned that a lot of active players reached the Ace ranking, I started to realize that I am unable to break a 10 or a Jack, even though I played up to 10 matches a day and scored well in them. A quick Internet search didn’t give a lot of hints on how to approach this trophy. What most of the guides say is that the ranking is based on the rate of earning cash on a given day, with some weight attached to the amount of cash earned previously. The earnings are compared worldwide on the leaderboards and the players are promoted or downgraded based on their performance. There are no absolute cash levels the player must reach to move higher up in the rankings, it’s all relative to others, which doesn’t make it easy to follow the progress. It’s also not helpful that the ranking is updated once a day so you never know if the cash already earned is enough or not.
It’s also important to sync up the progress with the Killzone servers daily, because otherwise it will not be acknowledged and the ranking will go down. I know this from experience, since I beat the main campaign while on holiday, with no Internet access. Even though my profile said that the highest ranking I got was an Ace of Clubs, the trophy never popped up because my progress had not been communicated to the servers.
When I finally decided to tackle this trophy again, I was lucky enough to start at the beginning of the Killzone week (Sunday), when the weekly leaderboards are reset. I replayed the first covert contract on Veteran difficulty, which gave me around 18000 Vektan dollars per game. I kept checking the weekly leaderboards to make sure that I was among the top scorers and on the third day of grinding, I finally got the Ace. It’s always a shame when developers include in their games trophies, that do not clearly communicate what is required of the player. The card ranking system was never really explained in detail by the devs and the way progress is tracked makes it very difficult to know when to stop grinding. I’m not a fan of grinding trophies anyway, but at least I can tell how much cash I need to reach one million. Here, I never knew how many more times I had to save Admiral Grey and blow up the tank in the courtyard.
|Rescue an injured teammate in Multiplayer|
|Recover after being tranquilised by an enemy in Multiplayer|
On the other side of the trophy spectrum are the accidental trophies, which don’t depend only on the player and require other things to go exactly right. In the 100+ multiplayer games I completed, most of which were team-based modes, I only managed to rescue several of my teammates. The reason is that most of the enemies shoot to kill and rarely leave the injured waiting for help. Still, it’s not as uncommon as the second trophy in this category.
The tranquilizer gun is used rarely, usually in the Warzone mode, where interrogation is one of the phases of the game. Still, the trophy requires the player to be shot with the tranquilizer gun and stick around for approximately 20 seconds, hoping that the enemy who shot is killed or otherwise incapacitated. This is not a high-probability scenario. The funny thing is that I asked CherryChill to help me boost this trophy but when we started the game, some other player from the opposing team hit me with the tranquilizer and then failed to finish the job, so I ended up getting the trophy without my friend’s help. Alanis Morisette would call this ironic.
|Collect all trophies|
The Art of Killzone Mercenary
There’s one last thing I would like to mention about Killzone Mercenary, that I feel has been overlooked by many. Some time after the game was launched, a free app for the Vita was released, which is an interactive, digital artbook, describing the world of the game, the locations and characters as well as backstory about the mercenaries and the Helghan-Vektan conflict. I include a couple of the screenshots from the app in this post and I would recommend everyone to go grab it, if it’s still available. It really shows how much effort has been put into this title and that it has been worked on like a true AAA, which it really is.
I need to reiterate that Killzone Mercenary is one of the best games available on the PlayStation Vita. While Tearaway was an amazing title that showed off all of the system’s peripherals, Killzone gives a beautiful display of the handheld’s computing power as well as visual and sound capabilities. The game looks and sounds great, it plays extremely well with the small analog sticks for a game that requires precision. It offers many hours of single player gameplay and a perfectly capable multiplayer mode. Even though it comes with only six online maps, there are new ones coming out soon. Also, the fact that new updates and bug fixes are released regularly shows that the game is supported by the developers and Sony as one of the Vita’s highlights, and rightfully so.
Note: All the screenshots have been made by me personally on the PlayStation Vita from the Killzone: Mercenary game and the Killzone Mercenary Digital Art Book application. I do not claim ownership of the art presented in the images.