It's been a long wait, but I finally had the chance to engage in Killzone 2's much-anticipated online multiplayer at the Leipzig Games Convention in Germany. Teased at E3 in Los Angeles last month, I have been practically foaming at the mouth to give it a go. Here's how it went down.
I was lucky enough to be in the first session at the show, meaning that aside from internal testing, I was first outside of Guerrilla Games' development studio to play multiplayer. Prior to playing, our group of about 8 journalists received some prep, outlining many of the online features that we'd get our hands on.
Essentially, it was the same presentation that I saw during E3, with one addition--bots. Eric Boltjes, senior online designer, confirmed that A.I. bots will be available to add in both online and offline games, and that they will excellently mimic human behavior and use all special abilities just as a normal player would. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see them in action today, but I did get to face off against some of the development team back in Amsterdam who were ready to make mince meet out of my inexperienced hide.
I played two games, the first of which was a 16-player match. I started with a grenade launcher and a pistol, as well as hand grenades. This specific map was multi-leveled, with lots of stairways and tunnels, which worked very well for lobbing grenades around corners. And that's how I got my first couple of kills. I was shot down pretty fast after that, prompting me to either wait 10 seconds for a medic to find and revive me, or choose a respawn point. A nice feature lets you view real-time video of each spawn location so you don't end up dropping into a bloodbath. Also cool is being able to change badges (classes) via the respawn menu after dying. So, I switched to the Scout badge to test out the sniper rifle.
It took me a little while to find a good vantage point, but since my team was trouncing the Helghast, there was a good window for me to find a stairwell and a spot on a balcony. The sniper rifle has two zoom modes, but I found I needed quite a bit of open space to use it effectively. I also noticed that sentry guns were littered throughout the map, which were either friend- or enemy-controlled, and were pretty pesky when trying to battle other enemies at the same time. A few shots usually took it out, though.
The next game was a 32-player match, and things were quite a bit more hectic in this King of the Hill-esque (I believe it's called Search & Conquer). I experimented with a few other badges, using the shotgun and one of the game's assault rifles. Different abilities are also mapped to the directional pad, allowing on-the-fly usage of grenades and other items. A handy arrow allows led me to the nearest action, so I never really felt like I was wandering around lost even though I wasn't familiar with these maps (obviously).
Graphically, Killzone 2 is spectacular, emphasizing the gritty, bloody nature of the game universe. I couldn't tell any noticeable degrade in graphical quality from the single-player portion of the game, which is a rarity these days. Perhaps that's why the frame rate seemed a little slow at times, probably the only possibly knock on the game so far. To be a little more specific, it's more like Halo than Resistance, meaning characters move rather slow, which I'm quite a fan of. Not sure if this sluggishness is a specific refresh rate problem or solely a frame rate issue, but it's not that big of a deal and only a minor hitch for the time being.
Killzone 2 is doing so many inventive things on the online side that it's looking like the "kitchen sink" multiplayer experience. It feels like Call of Duty 4 mixed with elements of Halo and Battlefield games. Guerrilla Games really seems to get the online innovation thing, implementing tons of clan and tournament features, not to mention the option to customize each game to play exactly how you want it to. Shooter fans should really start getting excited about it now, though I think many of you have been waiting almost four years for this to drop. We're almost there!
Today, bots were announced for online and offline play in Killzone 2.