Killzone 2 Review

If you haven’t heard of Killzone 2, you must have been in a coma for the last few years. Sony’s much-hyped PS3 game has been one of the most anticipated games for years — ever since its first (questionable) E3 video brought the game and its graphics to the world’s attention.

With the release coming nearer and nearer each day, I’m glad to say two things: Killzone 2 doesn’t disappoint, and graphically it’s just as incredible as most fanboys hoped.

Now, if you’ve played a lot of the upper tier FPS titles the last two years, chances are Killzone 2 won’t do anything too new; you won’t have any moments going “Wow, what a great feature!” That’s because, like Halo, Killzone 2 doesn’t innovate the genre or introduce new features that will be copied for years to come. Instead, the developers took tried and true mechanics, and combined them into a game that may not do anything new, but is spot-on and near-perfect with everything it does do.

As many people know, I’m a stickler for games with great presentation and entertainment; if a game isn’t fun, what’s the point in playing it? In both areas, Killzone 2 delivers in spades. Outside of the technical prowess of the graphics, the art direction of the game is spectacular. Taking place on the planet of Helghan, the environments are familiar enough to earth that we recognize them, but at the same time little nuances throughout make it clear that this is in fact a foreign world-and that it’s a world in the midst of a massive war.

Character animation for both enemy and friendly troops is spectacular, and the ragdoll physics as enemies (and allies) are killed, topple from their places, and hit the ground with a sickening crunch are always entertaining. If there’s one area where the graphics fall a little short, it’s in the appearance of the Helghast troops. While they do look great, there just isn’t a lot of variety like you would expect from a game of this nature. Most of them look like one another, and a wider variety of enemy types would have been nice.

Of course, the prettiest console game in the world would be nothing without an equally impressive audio presentation. In Killzone 2, the environmental sounds are loud, hectic, and easily bring to mind big Hollywood (and foreign) war movies. Bullets collide with structures and cover, enemies grunt and make noise as they exert themselves and die, and the voice acting is largely done impressively. A few minor characters phone-in their lines, but it’s not enough to detract from the other characters, and the pure visceral nature of the game’s audio more than make up for any brief voice acting shortcomings.

When it comes to entertainment and fun, Killzone 2 hits the right notes. Now, if you’re a fan of epic stories that could easily be turned into novels, Killzone 2 isn’t the game for you. Instead, think of it as a big-budget action flick. It’s entertaining, but not incredibly deep or thought provoking.

In my opinion, that’s just what it needed to be. The last several big-name FPS games have had great stories; the timing is right for a game that is 100% about the experience itself, not what’s going on in the background. It’s also a good move because, to be frank, a large portion of those getting Killzone 2 will have never played the first Killzone. The game makes sense without knowing the the first game, but a lot of small things here and there won’t be noticed, and the beginning portions of the game are just confusing to newcomers. So sit back, enjoy the ride, and have fun while playing. No need to try to make sense of the metaphorical meaning of the plot here. Just blow stuff up, shoot some people, and laugh maniacally as both enemies and the environment are destroyed by your guns of righteous fury.

Gameplay wise, Killzone 2 puts the emphasis on taking intelligent cover, much like Gears of War — except it’s in first person. Almost all battles later on (or on higher difficulties) will require you to utilize cover. If you don’t take cover when you’re under fire, the enemy is going to exploit that and kill you in a spectacular-looking way. Likewise, when the enemy sees you they’ll hightail it to the nearest cover in order to survive.

The enemy AI is easily one of the highlights of the game. It’s not dynamic like Left 4 Dead, but it’s a lot better than the AI in games like Gears of War 2, Halo 3, and Resistance 2. Not only will enemy units regularly take cover, but if you’re entrenched in the same spot for too long they’ll lob grenades or flank you to make you move out of safety so their fellow troops can mow you down. Likewise, if you try to hit them with a grenade or flank them, they’ll counter you and move to a new location. The constant moving and assessing of the AI makes each scene of battle hectic, and even in the first level you’ll likely end up dying a few times if you bump the difficulty up.

Your team’s AI is also smart, but not quite on the level of enemies. In most stages, you’ll be accompanied by several friendly soldiers who will fire at the enemy, take cover, and do all of the normal things. Unfortunately, they don’t seem as intelligent as the Helghast, and the instances where my own side would lay down covering fire or lob grenades were far fewer than when the Helghast would do so. As most people know, despite the fact that you’re almost always surrounded by friendly troops there’s absolutely no co-op to speak of. I’m not faulting the game for a lack of co-op; rather, I wish that it were present (and wondering why it isn’t) so that there would be a better reason to play through the campaign again. The campaign will take between 7-10 hours to beat depending on your skill, and going back to find all of the hidden items or unlock all the trophies will certainly extend that, but being able to play through with a friend would have been a great addition, especially since your ally AI doesn’t seem as intelligent as the enemy’s.

Thankfully, the online multiplayer that’s offered is fun and will give you plenty to do with your friends. (As long as they’re not in the same room with you.) There aren’t as many modes available as there are in a lot of more recent titles, but the expected modes (Death match, CTF, etc.) are all present, and with up to 32 players in each match they’re a larger scale than most other console shooters.

Warzone is the unique offering in the multiplayer arena, and it’s a class-based online mode that allows players to begin as a basic soldier, improve their military rank, and then specialize their character by combining aspects of the online character classes, allowing you to create your own unique type of character. If you want to heal, but also want to use sentries or snipe, by playing, winning, and earning points you can ultimately build a character to suit your playstyle and needs.

Many people wanted Killzone 2 to be the greatest game on the PS3. In the end, it’s not quite good enough to claim that title. The good news, though, is that the game was much better than I thought it would be, and in my opinion it’s still easily one of the top 5 games on the console. The single player campaign may be on the short(er) side, but the entire journey is action-packed and adrenaline pumping without any noticeable downtime. And the multiplayer may not offer all of the different modes some gamers are used to, but Warzone’s unique customization capabilities offset that nicely.

If you own a PS3 and enjoy FPS titles, Killzone 2 is a must-buy. It’s not the best game on the PS3, but it is the best FPS, and unless your expectations of it were ridiculously high you’re not going to be disappointed.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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