Sony just sent over the demo of Killzone 2 so we could try it out and let you know what we think. The demo’s currently only available to people who have preordered it from Gamespot (or who live in Europe) but it will be available to everyone on February 27th. That’s the same day it releases in North America, which seems a little strange to me, but then again we all know PS3 owners are going to be all over this.

Even at 1.2 gigs it’s a very short demo, with just two levels that appear to make up the first portion of the game. Killzone 2 takes place after both the PS2 and PSP games, and is located entirely on the Helghan planet. These are the guys that invaded your territory last time, so you’re off for a little payback and to (ahem) finish the fight. You play as a Segeant nicknamed Sev and grab a rifle to kill as many of those damn Helghast as you can.

First you’ll be storming a beach of the Helghan capital Normandy-style in your futuristic assault vehicle, jumping off to kill off any enemies in your way and taking out a bridge emplacement with your rocket launcher. Afterwards it’s time for a little indoors action as you team up with one of your fellow soldiers to raise a gate and allow the rest of your team through. It’s fun stuff, and it is a very pretty game (gorgeous, really) but what’s to differentiate it from any of the other shooters out there?

Well… not a whole lot. There’s a cover system in place that allows you to hide behind any walls or structures in your way, and pop out and shoot at your discretion. You’ve got an annoying sidekick for some of the demo that shouts stuff like “Ouch! That HAD to hurt!” and “Special delivery!” when he tosses out a grenade. There are red barrels that explode when you shoot them. You can look down the sights of your rifle, and when you get hurt the screen turns red with blood and you have to take cover till it regenerates. You can heal your teammates when they’ve been knocked down, although they apparently can’t do the same to you. Oh, and of course- you’re fighting with a bunch of loud-talking space marines against a shit-talking alien race (they call you “Outworlder”).

So yeah, there’s a lot of familiar ground being tread here, but to its credit, it’s still a very solid shooter. The hit detection is great- you really feel like you’re punching holes in your enemies and the death animations are pretty entertaining… they go down heavily and sometimes pull down any objects around them. The cover system is one of the best, as well. You’re not stuck to the wall completely, you hold down a button to stay down and can move around as you wish.

One thing that might annoy a lot of people is that you’re stuck with one weapon, a backup pistol, and your knife. The pistol does do a fair amount of damage and has unlimited ammo so you’re never left without, but it’s a bit of a bitch when you’re used to having at least two weapons to switch between. It may be more realistic, sure, but it’s a shame to not be able to carry the usual rifle/rocket launcher combo.

The demo also doesn’t show off any of the more exciting areas of the game, such as the one I tried at E3 which had you on a turret taking out a bunch of Helghast at a building across the street. You’ll kill dozens of them till  the whole building is bombed, and let me tell you, watching it go down was pretty damn awesome- even if it was completely scripted.

When you finish the demo you’ll get a highly amusing montage of kills, showcasing some of the more awesome weapons you’ll handle in the full (flamethrowers and tesla weapons? Nice.) all set to a soothing, relaxing opera song.

The demo for Killzone 2 is a nice taste of the final thing, but hopefully things will change up a bit more over the course of the game. And of course, there will be the multiplayer that allows you to choose seven different classes of characters and gain experience like every other shooter in the market.  32 player matches mean that there’s going to be some huge battles, and you’ll have eight maps on the disc… with more coming as DLC.

Killzone 2 hits North America February 27th and Europe on February 25th.