Typically, first-person shooters on the PlayStation Vita have not been the move. A year and change had gone by since Sony’s handheld system launched and there hadn’t been a credible game to fill the void in that genre. That is until Killzone: Mercenary arrived, an impressive shooter that bucks that trend.

Set in the wake of the original Killzone, Mercenary sits as a sort of background story to the war against the Nazi-like Helghast armies. Playing soldier of fortune Arran Danner, your reward for completing missions is a nice payout. From killing a foe or scoring a headshot, to picking up dropped ammo or hacking a computer, there are plenty of ways to make some paper. The controls are seamless as developer Guerrilla Cambridge makes use of the Vita's features, utilizing the dual-stick controls superbly, and the touch screen is also implemented naturally, with swiping for takedowns and executions. Mercenary uses a touch-based system for melee attacks. A press of the triangle button initiates the attack for which you’ll use your knife, and you carry out the kill by swiping an arrow icon that illuminates on the screen. In single-player this allows you to utilize assassination kills and makes stealth a necessary and intense part of the game.

While there’s plenty to do in Mercenary the only drawback is its nine-mission single-player campaign is very short. At worst the typical gamer will be able to beat it in just under six hours. Thankfully, the multi-player mode more than makes up for that shortcoming and is where you’ll be spending the majority of your war time. There are several modes—a free-for-all, a team death-match and a mission-based tactical mode—and six sprawling maps. Adrenaline rush moments like storming in with your guns blazing murking everything in sight or sneaking around behind the enemy and stabbing them in the back happen often. If that’s not enough carnage for you, you can launch a drone that homes in on opposing forces and stabs them in the head with metal spikes.

XXL Endgame
It took a minute, but PlayStation Vita owners finally have the FPS that they’ve been craving. Killzone: Mercenary is an exceptional shooter that despite its short campaign actually fulfills the console experience from sound, design and graphics.—Written by DJ Rhude (@DJRhude)

XXL Rating: XL