ESRB RATING: M
Killzone 2 is here. The biggest and best hope of PS3 owners has arrived, and over a million people have already bought it and are currently playing it online. But is it all it’s cracked up to be?
The game picks up right after the events of both the original Killzone and Killzone: Liberation
(the superior 2004 PSP game), which focused on a war where the evil
Helghast empire was beaten off by the ISA
(Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) when they tried to invade a planet. Now the ISA has taken the war to
the Helghast home planet to finish the fight!
You play as Sev, the strong-browed grunt that seems to be doing most of
the ISA’s work. In fact, you and your Alpha Team appear to be the only
people doing anything of use. Everyone else you meet gets blown away instantly, and you handle all the important missions personally. Besides the last level it never feels
like you’re a soldier in a massive war the way it’s supposed to be,
you’re just a single guy handling everything yourself, sometimes with a
mostly useless teammate by your side. All they’re good for is getting
shot and forcing you to go pick them back up again. But when you die,
that’s it. Hardly fair!
The Helghast are a inhuman menace, an evil force that must be quelled.
It doesn’t get any more black and white than this. How evil are they?
Well barely see their faces because they’re covered up by scary gas
masks, their eyes glow bright red, and their Nazi-esque uniforms are
only backed up by their German accents. No better way that that to dehumanize
your foes and make you feel no remorse about blowing away hundreds of them, I suppose.
CHUDTIP- If they ask for your papers, produce them- fast.
To put it bluntly, it’s got a shit story. You don’t care about these
characters or the missions they’re engaged in. It’s also got the most
offensive black stereotype this side of Cole Train (“Look at all- this-
juice!”) and the requisite melodrama that shooters seem to love nowadays.
The campaign is decent and you’ll have fun with it, but nothing in the game hasn’t been done better before. Struggling to get off a sinking ship that’s tilting back and forth? Call of Duty 4 did it better. A level where you drive a mech as you slaughter hundreds of foes? Gears of War 2 did it better. Fighting in a city immediately after it was nuked? FEAR 2 did it better.
There’s also the problem that with the exception of the last few levels, the game just isn’t that exciting. It’s about as average an experience as you can imagine, and it doesn’t help that the game seems tailor-made for a co-op experience (what with you frequently fighting alongside a fellow soldier) but is only a solo affair.
It handles incredibly well, however. They went for a more realistic shooter here- you can only carry one weapon at a time, but every weapon comes with a ton of clips. Your backup pistol is a beast and will get quite a workout, something that usually never happens in a shooter. But since it takes a while to reload your main weapon, sometimes your best bet is to whip out the pistol to finish the job.
CHUDTIP- Use that melee! You’ll run through that clip awful fast.
The weapons themselves don’t offer a huge amount of variety but wait until you see the awesome electricity and fire effects on some of the guns. There’s a minor cover system you have where you can crouch behind structures and the corner of walls and aim on your foes.
But the gameplay is like any other shooter. You’ll enter an area, kill all the enemies, and then go to the next area by opening a door or hitting a switch. Once in a while you’ll man a turret. It’s standard and boring and the AI doesn’t do a good job of making battles feel any different. There’s also a distinctive lack of variety in the enemies- you’ll face guys with helmets you can blow off and guys with helmets you can’t blow off. Oh, and big guys with big guns.
The controls are solid and the graphics astounding- this is definitely a great engine. It just needs to be in a better game.
The game is absolutely beautiful. While it’s the usual drab, gray world, it’s the smoothest drab gray world you’ve seen on the PS3. This is the one to show off your HDTV’s with, folks. The sound’s no slouch, either, with an orchestral soundtrack that does a great job of getting you pumped to kill off those Nazis. I mean, Helghast.
The cinemas are action packed and exciting, and better than anything you actually get to play. Turns out that E3 trailer was prophetic!
CHUDTIP- It doesn’t help you any when you shoot a Helghast helmet off, but it’s good for a laugh at their pasty Vader heads.
Oh, and then there’s the multiplayer. The glorious, glorious multiplayer.
While the game gives variations on the usual stable of game modes (deathmatch, capture the flag, king of the hill, etc.) in a stroke of genius they’ve decided to throw them all at you at once. In the main game type Warzone, you’ve got up to 16 vs 16 player battles that contain 7 missions each. Rather than selecting a game mode you’ll get them all! You’ll be given an objective and then go out and try to complete it before the other team can. It might be as simple as assassinating a member of the other team or guarding a point from them as they try to plant a bomb. Whether you win or lose, the game will jump right into the next objective.
It’s frantic, hell of a lot of fun, and there are a ton of unlockables that you can grab as you play. Eventually you can obtain new classes and badges that can do everything from revive teammates to give yourself a cloaking ability.
CHUDTIP- Careful of enemies who dress up as members of your own team. If you don’t see a green radar blip on your map that means they’re in disguise!
This is where Killzone shines, and where all the enjoyment of the game comes from. There are eight great maps to play from now and Guerilla Games has promised more on the way, with vehicles as well! So there will be plenty of incentive to keep playing.
Killzone 2 is a fine game that you’ll have lots of fun with, but Resistance 2 remains the best PS3 exclusive FPS. Both have pretty lackluster campaigns but for my money the online co-op experience for R2 can’t be beat.