Tuesday, March 10, 2009
One of the biggest controversies in the last several years of E3 was certainly the "is it gameplay or CG?" trailer for Killzone 2 in 2005. Playstation fanboys claimed the system would be capable of such graphics, while Microsoft fanboys claimed it would be impossible for the PS3 to produce such visuals. It turned out to be a CG target render, but in 2009 we can now see that the trailer might have actually underestimated the system's power. Killzone 2 is an absolutely beautiful game, and features what are easily some of the best graphics to ever be seen on a console. It's not all smoke and mirrors, though - it's a fantastic, intense FPS that is a must-have for PS3 owners.
While so many first-person shooters have you trudging through dimly-lit corridors, grimy sewers, or confining trenches, Killzone 2 is all about huge battles. More often than not, you're in a huge area with enemies coming from all directions. The draw distance is spectacular, so you can fire on enemies from great distances. It doesn't revolutionize the genre by any means, but it does everything extraordinarily well. Environments destruct in realistic ways, teammates are actually useful and will kill enemies, and the enemy A.I. is fantastic. You'll catch them doing all sorts of subtle animations and maneuvers, and they all look great.
PS3's SixAxis control system has been used well in very few instances (Flower), but it's mostly been awful in execution (Lair). You won't be using it too much in Killzone 2, but it's actually used in non-obtrusive ways that make sense. You'll turn valves and prepare explosives using the shoulder buttons and controller twists. The best implementation of the motion controls is definitely when it comes to sniping. If you're moving the controller around, it'll be near impossible to get a bead on your enemy. However, the reticule will be perfectly still if you're not moving your hands. This is how developers should approach motion control - make it realistic, unobtrusive, and most of all, have it make sense.
Like seemingly every other FPS, Killzone 2 is set on an alien planet in the future. Thankfully, many of the weapons actually seem like modern-day rifles and pistols. It quickly became cliche for every first-person shooter to give you some plasma rifles and make you shoot some bug-like alien creatures with them. The Helghast army resembles heavily-armored human soldiers, and they'll be shooting bullets at you...not lasers. It's a welcome departure from the genre and it's nice to see an FPS that stays away from the obvious weapon choices.
Like the recent Call of Duty titles, the campaign is short but sweet. It isn't padded with fetchquests or unnecessary objectives meant to artificially lengthen the experience. It's short, to the point, and intense from start to finish. You may be able to beat it in 7-8 hours, but the real lasting aspect of Killzone 2 is its multiplayer. Like COD, you'll be continuously rewarded with ribbons, medals, and perks for playing well. It features a basic levelling system, as well as specific medals which you can equip that have in-game effects like more grenades or increased ammunition. The most intriguing aspect of the multiplayer is definitely how it handles switching game types. Rather than simply picking Deathmatch or Search and Destroy, it switches on the fly. That means you won't be seeing a final score tally, only to have the game load a new map and completely new session. Instead, it simply ends one gametype and seamlessly blends into another. This simple feature makes sure no multiplayer session becomes repetitive, and lets you play in a variety of different ways every time you start a round.
I wasn't the biggest fan of the original, but I'm completely sold on Killzone 2. It's not a revolutionary title, it's just extremely well-made in virtually every aspect. From the beautiful visuals to the engaging multiplayer, it features just about everything you'd want out of an FPS.
First Play: 9.5
Replay Value: 9.5