February 2, 2009 // 11:07 pm
- Check out the awesome video below courtesy of G4TV's X-Play, who has given Killzone 2 a 5 out of 5 rating! To quote:
Some shooters try to hang a deep and meaningful story on their shootouts, and more often than not the plot twists end up either completely forgotten or way confusing. Not Killzone 2. This down the barrel look at life knows exactly why you're here. These Helghast have harried you for long enough.
It is time for them to be the home team. As ISA Sergeant Sevchenko, you will lead an invasion of the hazy Helghast home world, Helghan. After watching about ten seconds of an in-game news broadcast and an exciting dropship ride, the game grants you permission to fire, and off you go! Get the lead out! Why? Who cares!? They have red eyes! Do you need another reason?
The Killzone franchise has a checkered past. The first installment rode a wave of hype (not unlike the wave this game is riding) right into a wall of disappointment. Some hated the game's loose controls. Some hated the moronic AI. Some hated the glitches and slow-down that the game suffered from.
A good soundtrack and interesting ideas won't carry a game though, and the original Killzone not only didn't meet the unreasonable expectations that the hype-wave had created. It didn't even meet the reasonable expectations held by those who just wanted a quality shooter for their PlayStation.
The good news is that Killzone 2 has shed the shortcomings of its predecessor and it actually came close to matching that 2005 trailer. In some ways, the game looks even better. The Killzone 2 that you will be popping into your PS3's actually looks at all those pre-rendered vs. in-game graphics arguments that once clogged up the internets... and flips 'em the bird.
Throughout the game, the cut scenes transition seamlessly into gameplay. There are momentary pauses in the gameplay since the game runs directly from the disc, but these happen between action scenes and are very brief.
I don't need to go on about how good the game looks because just by watching videos online it should be obvious to you that this is a handsome game. Easily one of the best looking console games to date. At a glance, it may seem a bit monochromatic, but play through a couple maps and you'll see the color palette mixed up enough to remind you that there are colors on dusty Helghan. The sense of weight is very nice.
You jump, but don't jump 15 feet in the air. The guns seem heavy. Everything is grimy and dusty. All these details combined with an abundance of lighting effects, film grain, and camera tricks create a very desolate, foreboding atmosphere. I should also mention here that the sound design is awesome. Distant chattering gunfire and muffled shouts from the next building add to the realism of the conflict.
Developer Guerilla has tweaked several gameplay elements in order to steer the player towards their intended Killzone experience. One example of this is limiting the player to essentially carrying one gun at a time. You always have your trusty pistol, but your enemies are some tough muthas. You will find yourself running out of ammo constantly, which forces you to scrounge for weapons.
This necessity helped introduce a handful of guns early on that I would probably not have picked up if my reflex-scope rifle had not run out of bullets. Another reason this works is that it encourages strategy. The idea here is to grab cover, clear an area, advance, and NOT charge into the fray like the Kool-Aid Man. Oh Yeah!
The campaign is clocking in at what is becoming the FPS standard. Ten hours will take you from intro to credits on normal; add in a few more hours for a higher difficulty. There are a decent variety of enemies who are much smarter than they were in past Killzones. If the AI in this game went to school I would give them a 'B' in tactics - slightly above average.
They evade, flank, grenade you out of cover, and sometimes do kamikaze rushes. They will occasionally surprise you with an amazing bit of trickery, and every now and then they will forget there is a war on and fall asleep on their feet. Overall, Guerilla is to be commended for the AI here as it is light years ahead of the original Killzone AI.
While beautiful, the campaign starts with a bang, and then continues to bang louder and louder until the end. You will have lots of fun moments along the way, but there are not really any defining moments that will have you talking about them the next day.
It's just shooting lots and lots of guys in a gorgeously rendered environment. No real variety in goals, no real pause in the action. The boss encounters and the handful of vehicle/turret sequences just barely serve to break things up a bit, but even they are not that memorable.
Probably the tastiest part of the Killzone Cocktail is the Multiplayer. Imagine if Call Of Duty 4 and Team Fortress 2 had a baby, which they then abandoned and as a result had to learn a few new tricks to survive. That's what Killzone Multiplayer is like. The ability to grab cover is removed from multiplayer, leaving you with a crouch button and your own creativity. This ups the pace a bit.
The maps are large and manage to add a good vertical element. Rather than meeting in the middle of flat areas dotted with cover; there are catwalks, ramps, towers that would all make nice spots for a sniper perch or for a sneaky flanking maneuver. The primary online multiplayer mode is called Warzone and pits a room of up to 16 vs. 16 in a series of game types. The winner of the majority of the match's game types wins the match.
Say, for example you're defending your team's VIP. A timer counts down in the corner of your screen. This is how long the other team has to successfully kill your VIP. Never more than a few minutes. Red dots pop-up on your radar. Where's your buddies? They're off admiring the dust effects in the dunes.
The other team rushes in murders you and your VIP, and scores 1 match point. As you're selecting your respawn point a voice comes over your speaker that says you need to capture and hold a point on the map. You select the more favorable respawn point, and off you go.
The more multiplayer you play, the more experience points you'll gather. These points accumulate and propel you through military ranks. Advancing through these ranks starts unlocking goodies such as the option to form a squad (more on that in a sec), the option to form a clan, and most importantly, the additional player classes.
Each class comes with a special ability, and different weapon choices. The Sniper (the last one you'll unlock) can start with a sniper rifle, and has a cloaking ability that renders him very nearly invisible as long as he is stationary. The more he moves, the more visible he becomes. The Medic has a little shocker that can revive down-but-not-out allies.
The Saboteur can disguise himself by borrowing an enemy identity temporarily. These guys will have you keeping one eye on your radar to confirm friend-or-foe status of nearby teammates. If you perform well as a class, you will start earning medals and ribbons. Earn enough of these and you can get upgraded special abilities and eventually even combine classes.
Needless to say the multiplayer mode of Killzone 2 is good fun, but you will only get the most out of it if you commit to spending some serious days and weeks racking up those promotions. Your level of commitment is the only question.
FPS is a crowded genre so there is 100% chance of similarities between games, but some games weather the similarity storm better than others.
The overall general feel of Killzone 2 is not fresh. The look is unique and definitely stands out, but I feel the actual gameplay is pretty standard. Again, not bad, good in fact! Just not as original as I think it could be. A co-op mode would have livened up some of the levels as well.
In the beginning, your options for choosing a button layout are very limited. I ended up going with 'Alternate 2', a scheme that is somewhat similar to the COD4 layout. It seemed strange to me that such a popular setup would by partially imitated in the options, then buried at the end of the list.
After a bit, I had gotten proficient with the controls, but they never felt as sharp as I wanted them to be. Everything seems to be a bit slow. I certainly got accustomed to them, but I never stopped wishing that they were better. I would gladly sacrifice some of the heap of visual effects that Killzone 2 drapes over my screen in exchange for a peppier, more intuitive set of controls.
Killzone 2 is one of those happy moments where something has so much anticipation built up behind it before release, and it does not disappoint. The campaign does not realize its full potential by a substantial amount, but it is so pretty you may not notice.
Multiplayer is certainly Killzone 2's strong suit and while borrowing liberally from other popular games, it contains features that I'm positive will be borrowed right back. If you are a PS3 owner and have even a passing interest in shooters, buying this game is a no-brainer. And there are very few reasons as compelling as Killzone 2 to actually pick up a PS3 if you haven't already.