Never has a game brought so much controversy, never were expectations so high and tense. The pride of PS3 owners, the parade horse of Guerrilla and the system seller of the PS3. Since the infamous E3 trailer from 2005 Killzone 2 was praised (or the contrary), Sony pumped millions of euros in this game and… Killzone 2 would and had to live up to the immense hype.
For a few days already I’m thinking how I would be able to write down my first encounter with the game. Words unfortunately are not enough when I want to describe the intro movie. Giant ships hang between clouds, rockets are flying all around and hard explosions are testing the bass of your 7.1 surround sound set. Hundreds of pods leave the bass on their way to the red planet, not Mars but Vekta, the world of the Helghan, to end the battle. It’s up to you, Sev, to finish the Helghan once and for all.
The single player of Killzone 2 is a hellish experience that’s best compared with a high quality action movie. This is of course partially thanks to the graphical beauty of this game but there’s also a subtle technique that helps. Your viewpoint is smaller than in other shooters which makes it look like the already huge battles feel even more immense and make you feel even smaller. It’s like someone has turned on the zoom function of your TV without telling you which makes Killzone 2 so intense, so adrenaline pumping and so claustrophobic. When you get hit and the color of your screen becomes grey you feel very lonely but o so involved.
Despite its sci-fi setting Killzone 2 strives towards an experience that’s as realistic as possible. The single player is a bit short (about 11 hours without counting the times you have to restart due to death) and contains 10 missions. During those hours you shouldn’t expect a moment of pauze, no breaks, no boredom and a large variety of missions. Killzone 2′s campaign is a hellish rollercoaster ride with death as result. Eventhough the level structure is as linear as can be, it doesn’t get noticed.
Then there are the controls that at first feel so bad when playing the game. Zooming with an analog stick, hitting with L1 and ducking with L2? Especially with the Sniper Rifle this caused issues. While looking for cover with L2 you had to zoom with the right stick, but if you want to zoom further you have to press the D-pad up. You immediately look for solutions to change the combinations but in the end you come to the conclusion that Killzone 2 has to be played as Guerrilla wanted. For those that have played the demo and weren’t satisfied with the controls: don’t change them! Your brains will do the necessary to memorise the combinations and in the end everything will fall in its place.
Also the AI can be called sublime, especially on the higher difficulty degrees. The Helghast are extremely clever and even risk their lives to kill you. Forget rushing through the game as you won’t be able to get further than a hundred meters. Using the cover system is absolutely necessary. They’ll seek cover like you, they’ll flank your troops as you wanted to do with theirs, they press, they regroup… they do everything you were thinking of! Don’t expect them to show their heads every two seconds so that you can hit them like in a game of whack-a-mole. The Helghast thinks, the Helghast is.
Maybe I should also state that the graphics are quite pretty… or even better, they’re the best on console until now! Grey isn’t just grey in Killzone! Everything looks awfully detailed, the characters move realistically, the explosions of gas bottles, the destruction of walls, a never before seen sharp and incredibly beautiful horizon, bullets that hit limbs will bring forth the correct reactions, the light that comes through small holes, … it’s all an art by itself and the reload animations are so well-done that they even take away your concentration whien you would do better to look at what’s going on around you. And also nothing negative can be said about the sound. The game supports 7.1 Dolby Surround and really sounds as it should!
Killzone 2 isn’t a perfect game though and in my opinion does lack a couple of basic things. During the single player mode there’s no possibility to finish this with your friends while in-game you’re constantly accompanied by at least one of your colleagues of your squad. It even looks like this game was made to support co-op but that this feature was dropped in the end. The story isn’t bad but doesn’t have the necessary depth eventhough that’s not what really counts in Killzone.
Killzone 2 is seen as the Halo killer but I don’t really see this as a compliment. Killzone 2 for me is more Sony’s answer to the Call of Duty series. A rock-solid single player and a great multiplayer. The latter got the name Warzone and can be played with up to 32 players. The objectives constantly change so that you go from Search & Destroy to Assassination to then move on towards Body Count. It keeps the pace high in the game and brings a nice variation. If the dynamic changes aren’t something for you then you’ve got the possibility to change just about everything you would like. If you prefer Deathmatch only with grenades, or if dismantle the bomb with only medics is your cup of tea… it’s all possible.
Online there are seven classes that can be unlocked by gathering XP. Next to the usual XP also Ribbons can be earned which an be traded in for more points per kill, armour, damage and other specs. The Ribbons later on become badges with which you later on can unlock other stuff to create your ideal character. In other words: merge TeamFortress 2 with CoD4: Modern Warfare and you’re halfway the depth of Killzone 2′s XP system. It looks like the multiplayer part of Killzone 2 will be played a lot on the PS3.
Killzone 2 is after LittleBigPlanet the second game for the PS3 that manages to fulfil the hype despite huge pressure. Killzone 2 truly looks amazing, plays swiftly and has one hell of a multiplayer, but on the other hand it doesn’t have co-op and is in the end never innovating. There are currently 18 million PS3s sold and probably this game will reach about 5 million sales. In other words: this game will make you buy a PS3 and if you see how expensive it is, this is a huge compliment for the game!