Genre: Action Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: Sony Classification: G8+ Release Date: 31st Dec 2008 Platforms:PS3
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The Good bits
Fantastically timed game with great flow.
Great new take on multiplayer.
The Bad stuff
The story isn't much.
The weapons take getting used to.
I have to be completely honest - I had some doubts about Killzone 2. Looking at it I don't see a lot to it - the gameplay had about as much depth as a puddle, the storyline was pretty much World War 2 meets Starship Troopers and it seemed like the only thing the game had going for it was the graphics.
In fact, it wasn't until I played the game on my own terms - in my own lounge room, with a beer in hand - that I truly got Killzone 2. Killzone 2 isn't about all the extra stuff you see in First Person Shooters these days - S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky with it's faction based warfare and quest system is The Dark Knight to Killzone 2's Rambo (minus the refused classification Rambo level gore would earn a video game).
Killzone 2 is about shooting, and looking good doing it. The plot - a transparent tale involving Stormtrooper like soldiers (the German kind not the Star Wars kind) in a battle to defend their homeland from your characters retaliatory attack - is merely a vessel to carry you between the explosions. The game blasts along at breakneck speeds from one firefight to the next, barely stopping for a breather the entire eight to nine hours the single player game lasts - and you won't even notice the time has passed.
The graphics are flat out amazing, and if there was any frame dropping I certainly didn't notice it. The character animations are fantastic - except in the face - but the world is where you'll see the real eye candy. The details are immaculately focused, the textures beautiful. The E3 fiasco was an issue at the time, but Guerrilla Games has clearly made this game look like it promised. What Crysis does on an island Killzone 2 does in a war torn city, and while Crysis has infinitely more potential to look better, Killzone 2 won't ever need an upgrade, won't need a graphics slider to find the balance between it looking good and running well.
Some of the gameplay mechanics are foreign before you get used to them - the entire cover system is a fantastic example of this. Getting into cover and ducking both share the same button, which means if you're ducking and you come too close to a piece of cover you'll snap into using it - whether you want to or not. While in cover you can't see anything unless you stick your head up - leaving the safety the cover provides. Without the third person perspective technique used by the likes of Rainbow Six Vegas 2 cover in FPS's is worthless.
Despite this speed bump the rest of the game feels like a it has been rigorously designed to deliver an accomplished and efficient FPS - the flow of the game is rarely interrupted except for important story exposition. The feeling I got while playing was that everything in it was very... deliberate. The way you go from firefight to firefight, beautifully rendered cutscene to beautifully rendered cutscene, the game feels like the guys at Guerrilla Games have done a lot of hard work to make sure you playing the game isn't hard work for you.
The weapons and vehicles are well thought out - tanks and walkers are always fun to use - though each weapon seems so different and foreign to the next that it's like relearning how to walk each time. It's tough to get a grip on - even something like switching from a machine gun to a shotgun throws you off balance, making grabbing a different weapon mid combat a risky decision. I'm not complaining about it - who wants a zillion different weapons when they all feel the same - it's just something you might want to keep in mind.
The vehicles are a tiny bit off as well - they change up the controls a little bit when the normal controls would have suited fine. They're immensely fun to drive however, and once again they're expertly featured to keep the pacing just right.
A word about the multiplayer - a huge part of almost any first person
shooter. I played it on a server with Guerrilla Games devs and other journos at a Sony hosted MP event, so I don't know that my relative lack of lag will be reflected when the game comes out. Still, what I played was really well designed - imagine taking all the modes in Counter-Strike and throwing them into one big dynamic game mode which changes as you complete objectives. For a couple of minutes your team must defend against a bomb being planted before the game changes up and you suddenly have to assassinate the VIP. Next up it's just pure TDM - the team with the most kills at the end of 4 minutes scores another point. It's a great way to play what could have been any old generic MP.
The big question in everyone's mind is - is it a system seller? Would I purchase a PlayStation 3 for this game? I think people who purchased an Xbox 360 for Halo 3 would be remiss not to see how the other side lives - it's not a Halo killer, but like Rocky versus Apollo Creed Killzone 2 would last the fifteen rounds.
It's on the outside where Killzone 2 does the most to amaze the player - the graphics are, without doubt, the best graphics I've seen in a console first person shooter. The game itself is a hearkening back to the days of the mindless FPS, and on a console in your lounge room it couldn't be more at home. I would have liked some depth, but Killzone 2 was probably the first game in a long time in which I could just switch off my brain and play.