And so it’s finally here after years of hype, that disasterous first showing at E3 and a lot to answer.
Sony are still looking for the next big exclusive which will shift consoles. The last one was Metal Gear Solid 4 last year. LittleBigPlanet, for all it’s critical acclaim, solid fanbase and stable sales, failed to grab the hearts and minds of gamers. One could argue that it’s simply because LBP is too bright and lacks guns and explosions to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but I digress. Killzone 2 is meant to address that. A First person shooter exclusive to the PS3, sony are hoping that it will help reverse their systems poor track record.

The first game was released on the PS2 and was touted as a halo killer. It wasn’t. but sony stuck by the game and the sequel plays very much like a mixture of several well received FPS games. There’s a lot of Call of Duty 4 in there, some Gears of War (ok, so that’s really 3rd person. so sue me) and a few others in there. Question is, does this almost frankenstein of a game work well, or does it collapse into a horrible mess? A: works well.

The game puts you in the role of a grunt by the name of Tomas “Sev” Sevchenko (terrible nickname, but it beats “soap” from CoD4) who is a part of a special forces unit which comprises of 3 other members and Sev. Several characters from Killzone 1 make an appearance in the game but you will “be” sev throughout as you fight your way through the planet helghan in order to bring down the leader of the sorta-nazi-like helghast and bring an end to the war they started.
The game feels a little slower paced than most FPS games and certainly doesn’t match the blistering pace of the CoD games, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lost any of it’s intensity. It also utilises a cover system which is more like Gears of War, with Sev clinging to walls and allowing you to peek through and take safer shots at the enemy from cover as opposed to the cover = crouch approach in CoD.
The environment, unfortunately follows the trend of “all the colours of the rainbow, so long as it’s grey or brown” approach often seen in this current generation of games but the level of detail still manages to make it one of the most beautiful games out there. everything looks worn in but unctional. Weapons are also geared heavily towards the realistic side of things with only 1 gun heading into the realm of science fiction (the lightning gun).

Multiplayer wise, the game borrows heavily from CoD4 with a level up system for playing. Each match gives you experience which allows you to rise up the ranks. Ranks allow you access to different roles and weapons which can change the way you play. They also included a squad mechanic which allows a small number of players to function in very specific roles together.

So, what do I think about the game?

Loved:

The graphics – I’ve said it above, but the graphics really are stunning. Easily one of the best looking games on any console. It’s a realy shame that 3rd party publishers aren’t able to come close to this level of visual candy and stick PS3 owners with often inferior versions to their 360 counterparts.

The Helghast – Even on the easier settings, the helghast are damn smart. Games like Halo have been lauded for their enemy AI but I never felt that they were too smart, even on the harder settings. In killzone 2, you really notice it!!
They’re really creepy looking and intimidating too!

Battle intensity – You really feel like you’re just a grunt in this game. A cog in the war machine and the set pieces are brutal with explosions throwing bodies around and some intense firefights. I haven’t had such an experience since CoD4!!!!

Hated

Controls – I often complain about the 360 pad and how they are ill suited to play anything other than a FPS. Well, guess what, Killzone 2 is a FPS and I was almost wishing that I had a 360 pad to play it. The DualShock3 just isn’t up to scratch. The analogue sticks aren’t sensitive enough so turning and fine tuning the aim is a chore.

Weapon selection – In Killzone 2, you are allowed to hold 2 weapons at a time. That would normally be fine, but one MUST be a pistol, which is pretty pants, so in reality, you are only able to hold 1 weapon. Given how most are naff except for certain situations, you almost always end up defaulting to the assault rifle, making the rest rather pointless.

“From the hip” aiming – Killzone 2 follows the grand tradition started by Rainbow 6 on the PC where the targeting reticule increases in size the longer you fire and/or you are moving. Normally, that’s fine but they got the balance wrong so the reticule increases in size really really fast. don’t even think that you can hit anything after 3 bullets from the assualt rifle and the pistol is pretty hopeless from the start.  After a few repeated shots from almost any wapon, you won’t be able to hit Gabe Newell with a shotgun from 3 paces away!

Rico – What an Asshole!!!

Despite having less originality than an AC:DC song, and some niggles about the controls, I really enjoyed playing the single player section of Killzone. The multiplayer aspect has the same problem as many other FPS games, in that the good players completely dominate over the weak and doesn’t always allow you to get better gradually. You learn or die!!

It’s definitely a game which will appeal to the masses, but I don’t think it’ll reverse the fortunes of the PS3 just like that, simply because of the timing of it’s release. If it was a year ago, it would have done some serious damage, but money cautious gamers may still baulk at buying a premium product for this game, even if they really want to play it.

Shame, because they would be missing out on quite the game, and one which will be around for a long time. Maybe a fight back to the definitive second place in this console war isn’t impossible, but the revolution isn’t quite here yet.