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DLC Review: From the Ashes for Killzone 3
by Cathal Geoghegan

I wish I could be writing this review with tears of joy in my eyes. Yet, alas, that is not the case. When I first heard of From the Ashes, the latest downloadable expansion for the company's flagship Killzone 3, I thought this would be the best DLC offering that Guerilla Games has created. I was completely wrong, however; any of the positive features the DLC offers are overshadowed by huge and abysmal oversights on Guerilla Games' part.

From the Ashes introduces four new maps to Killzone 3: Tharsis Depot, Radec Academy, Mobile Factory and Lente Missile Base. Tharsis Depot and Mobile Factory are only used in the Guerilla Warfare mode, whilst Radec Academy and Lente Missile Base are likewise only used in a single mode, Warzone. Unfortunately this division of maps is one of the huge faults of the DLC pack: it quickly becomes apparent that more imagination was used in the creation of the Guerilla Warfare maps, leaving the Warzone maps far less than desirable.

Tharis Depot, a remastering of the original map from Killzone 2.

Visually, Lente Missile base and Radec Academy are both boring brown-and-orange maps of the brand that have come to plague most modern first-person shooters. Radec Academy, a remake of the original Killzone 2 map, is the biggest culprit for this; it's somewhat of a shame as Radec Academy was one of the most visually appealing maps in Killzone 2. It seems the developers have forgotten what made the original such a masterpiece, instead painting it over with a dirty brown palette. Lente is no better, full of browns and sun-bleached stone and, to me, lacks totally in imagination.

Things change drastically with the Guerilla Warfare maps, however: Tharsis Depot and Mobile Factory are, visually, worlds apart from the two Warzone maps. I would even go as far as to say that the new Tharsis Depot is a visual masterpiece, and one of the best-looking maps that Guerilla Games has ever created. Mobile Factory - despite seeming like a boring factory reminiscent of the Train level in Killzone 2 - has an ever-moving landscape, which brings a sense of urgency to the locale and offers an insight into the Helghan wastes.

Radec Academy, another recreated map originally from Killzone 2.

Radec Academy is a medium-sized map and a fan-favourite from Killzone 2. However, fans of Killzone 3's forebearer will be deeply disappointed by this remastered version. The original Radec Academy was known for its claustrophobic corridors mixed with wide open spaces. The new Radec Academy no longer has the claustrophobic corridors, and is dominated by wide open spaces that remove the fun and somewhat hectic nature of the original Radec; the changes remove much of the gameplay dynamic that the original map boasted.

Lente Missile Base is a quite a large map with a nice mixture of open and enclosed spaces. The enclosed spaces are the corridors beneath the map that lead to the Missile Silo, and it's in these corridors that the deadly feature of the map becomes apparent. The corridors act as vents to the huge nuclear rockets in the Silo and, every so often, the tunnels will be used to vent the flames from the rocket in the process burning everyone left inside. This is a nice touch, extending on the map's overall theme, but is a somewhat annoying feature. It's unfortunate that you very rarely get to experience this feature, due to poor map design; the high points overlooking the Bases mean that one team can base camp the other team and prevent anyone from leaving their base. This isn't an isolated incident, either, and the constancy with which this base camping occurs makes Lente Missile Base a map quite devoid of enjoyment for the team on the receiving end of this issue.

The Mobile Factory map, a multiplayer version of the level from Killzone 3's campaign mode.

Fans of Tharsis Depot from Killzone 2 will quickly get used to the changes made during remastering for this DLC pack. The map is largely the same as it was originally, save for the inclusion of jet packs in this iteration. This new addition also means that the map seems bigger and full of more depth compared to its Killzone 2 counterpart. This also gives way to a more enjoyable, more strategic approach, as players take advantage of the extra height to the level.

Mobile Factory is based upon the vehicle from Killzone 3's campaign. The map is quite small but makes up for it somewhat with its sense of scale, created through several staggered floors which make the map seem rather large. This map is wonderful, with excitement rife due to its hectic and, at times, confusing layout.

Lente Missile Base's subterranean tunnels.

As a big fan of Killzone, I've found it hard to play and review the From the Ashes DLC, something that has ultimately impacted on the score I've given. The two Guerilla Warfare maps seem to be the best features of From the Ashes, but unfortunately this is one of the reasons for the DLC's low score; the two best maps in the pack are only available for the Guerilla Warfare game mode, a terrible shame as many people will not get to enjoy the beauty and excitement of the maps. Personally, I cannot see any reason why the maps are only available for Guerilla Warfare; yes, the two maps are small, but Killzone proved that some of the best games can be played on tiny maps, even with up to thirty-two players. The Warzone maps, however, have nothing that makes me want to play them and, ultimately, was what led to the downfall of the From the Ashes DLC.

2/10 [?]

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- Cathal Geoghegan

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