Killzone 2 Review

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Killzone 2

Platforms: Playstation 3

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe/ Sony Computer Entertainment America

Developer: Guerilla Games

Release Date: 2.27.09

The hype that surrounded Killzone 2 was out of the ordinary for a sequel to an underwhelming, disappointing Playstation 2 shooter. A pre rendered trailer later, and the whole world goes crazy either claiming the second coming, or calling bluff on Guerilla and Sony. “Does Killzone 2 live up to the hype?” I’m not touching that one with an answer, because that is a ridiculous question. A more reasonable question would be “Is Killzone 2 good?” And my answer to that is a resounding yes. “How good,” you ask? Killzone 2 is not only the best game on Playstation 3, but Killzone 2 is the single greatest, most viscerally enticing experience yet to be had this generation.

It feels good to get that off of my chest. Killzone 2 is a modern masterpiece. There’s a large number of things that make it so exciting. Starting with the visuals, it’s initially breathtaking to put your eyes on Killzone 2 for the first time. The battle raging through my mind while playing (and this still gets me) is if the art was better than the technology on display. That is pure preference. Killzone 2’s textures, lighting, animation, draw distance, and effects are all the best in the business. However, Killzone 2’s art might be the reason it looks so great. There’s something to be said for when you look out on the street on Salamun Market, or when you sprint through the ash in the final battles in Pyrrhus, and you see in the vista, two glowing, staring red eyes, and you realize that they’re looking at you. It’s war, and he is your enemy. The environments themselves are just breathtaking, and the urban, bleek, destructed setting is rich with atmosphere. People have been complaining at the grey color palette, but they too can rest easy. Killzone 2 utlizes colour near perfectly, and you’ll never feel overwhelmed with dark blur. Beginning with the red eyes of the Helghast, or the sandy tone of certain levels, or the tint levels have to them, Killzone 2’s colour palette is diverse and varied. When you take the most technically advanced achievement, and riddle it with one of the most distinct art directions, you get what might just be the best looking game ever made.

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The sound design reaches as high a bar as the visuals. The sound effects of the weapons are perfectly recorded, and you’ll be able to decipher the sound of an SMG from an Assault Rifle in no time. The voice acting from all characters is nicely done, and even the orchestral score is so epic and so fitting, it’s one of the highpoints of the game. When you hear the cries of a fallen enemy, that’s when you’ll fully appreciate the work put into the sound design.

The suffix in Killzone 2 implies that there may have been a Killzone 1. That’s definitely true, which means that the setting and art match up pretty nicely. In the previous games, (Killzone and Killzone: Liberation), the British-Nazi-Alien-like Helghast invaded the planet of Vekta, looking for blood. This time, Vekta and its inhabitants are fed up with the constant flow of attacks, and the ISA (Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) finally takes the fight to the Helghast homeland of Helghan. You play as Sev, a sargeant with a nice hairstyle. As part of Alpha squad, your main objective is to capture the Helghast Emperor, Visari. While the setup seems rather cliche and actually quite simple, the overall quality of the narrative is exceedingly high. Whether you look at the excellent voice acting, or the greatly directed cutscenes, it’s all magnificient. The game focuses heavily on the consequence and triumph a war platoon can face. The four men in Alpha squad, Sev, Natko, Rico, and Garza are a brotherhood, and it really shows. The game gets you to truly care for the soldiers and their survival, sucking the player in from the opening cutscene to the end credits.

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So it’s safe to say that the story and presentation are incredible. To be as cliche as possible, it’s the gameplay that counts. Killzone 2 doesn’t have that many new ideas to bring to the table, but what it does, it does at the top of its class.

It’s tough to pick a place to begin describing why Killzone 2 is such an incredible piece of software. The weapons themselves pack a devastating punch, and each of them feel unique. While the controls certainly take a lot of getting used to, due to the heaviness of movement, it doesn’t take too long, and in no time, you’ll learn to love the different feel Killzone 2 has. The combat is incredibly satisfying. This is mainly due to the presentation. Everything just looks and sounds so incredible, that when you mow down an enemy with a machine gun, the blood splatter followed by a non scripted animation, and a gut wrenching scream are more than enough to bring a smile to your face. Perhaps when you hit an enemy with a shotgun, and their head explodes, or when you pour 25 bullets into his torso, ripping him to shreds, that you’ll understand why the gameplay is so rewarding, addictive, and just plain fun.

The weapon design is awesome. There’s your standard set of assault rifles that are fit for just about any situation, there’s your rapid fire sub-machine guns, a sniper rifle that utlizes steady hands to aim properly, but then there are some truly magnificient guns, such as the flamethrower, bolt gun, or the lighting gun. Yes, the names of those weapons describe them perfectly. The stream of fire that comes out of the flamethrower sets enemies on fire to stunning effect, the bolt gun knocks enemies off their feet and then blows them up, and the lightning gun (which you get to use for a long time), obliterates enemies and shocks them.

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While the weapons are incredible fun to use, it’d all be useless without the excellent opponent AI that sets a new benchmark for the FPS genre. For example, say you were having a firefight with a soldier 60 feet away. When he reloads, you run around the corner and get out of his sight. If you listen carefully, you can hear him mention he’s lost you. Now, he’s looking for you. The enemy AI never faulters, and always keeps a great challenge. They will call out your position to their allies, try to flank you, and they’re pretty good with a rifle themselves.

Because of the fantastic AI, Guerilla implemented a cover system in the single player campaign to give you a fighting chance. By snapping down on the L2 button, you can take cover on most of the low objects in the game, always maintaining a first person view. It seems to fit very well with the game, and is absolutely essential to survival. That’s not to say that you can’t kill enemies when not taking cover, but it’s to say that they will kill you should you avoid it.

There are some absolutely incredible set piece battles. In fact, most of the campaign will consist of one after another. The way that the campaign is designed, is that it constantly gets better and better. It stays consistent like that, always having a steady increase in quality, until the final battles at the end of the game, which are honestly the most exhilarating moments that I ever remember playing in a video game. There are a fair number of turret and vehicle moments that fit the bill as well.

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While the campaign is only about 7 hours long, there are several trophies to unlock, as well as stats that it keeps on you, like how many kills you have, how long a certain section took you to complete, and there are hidden collectibles strewn throughout the levels. The menu system is also quite generous in allowing you to revisit any section of the campaign quite easily. While it’s short, the reply value is actually pretty high.

The 32 person multiplayer component in Killzone 2 is actually quite innovative. The way that matches play out is seamlessly merging game modes together into one consistently raging war. There are five game modes, Search and Retrieve (which is a variant on Capture the Flag), Body Count, Assassination (which chooses on player on one team, and is up for assassination), Capture and Hold (which is a variant on Zones), and Search and Destroy (which is similar to Sabotage in Call of Duty 4). Matches where all game modes are featured, scrambles around the game modes in random order. So matches can start out with 5 minutes of Body Count, then quickly shift to Assassination. Since it’s all randomized, it can be a real rush to try to talk things out with your team about where to go and how to carry out the situation depending on the objective. Sometimes an Assasination is called out, and your team has just 20 seconds to figure it all out before the identity of the V.I.P. is revealed to the opposing team. It’s actually quite dynamic, and it keeps every piece of action of every match fresh. Some matches, given the two teams are competitive enough, can last up to an hour long. Now that’s hardcore.

There are 12 ranks in multiplayer, that unlock rewards such as the ability to join a clan, or unlock new weapons, or even new classes. The multiplayer in Killzone 2 is fully class based, with soldier being your only choice when you start out, as you play and rank up, you unlock more classes such as Medic (whom can revive fallen teammates, Scout (whom can go invisible), and many more. It’s an incredibly balanced and rewarding system. On top of the 12 ranks, there are ribbons that reward you with specific abilities such as more grenades or a higher running speed. Ribbons are handed out for performing specific duties on field such as getting 10% of your team’s kills in a game. So with the rank system, as well as the ribbon system, Killzone 2 constantly rewards you for shining light onto its multiplayer.

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If somebody asked me to tell them what Killzone 2’s issues are, I’d mention the 3 or 4 motion control sections that take 4 seconds each. That’s really all about it. Killzone 2 is the best shooter currently available. Its visuals and audio are the best in its class, its combat is viscerally exciting and satisfying, its story is top notch, its campaign is perfectly paced and full of awesome moments, and its multiplayer just keeps on giving. There is absolutely no reason not to play Killzone 2. That being said, should you play Killzone 2, play as much of it as you possibly can.

Story 9.2 out of 10 – Killzone 2’s surprisingly strong narrative heavily explores the consequences and moral effect war can have on a fleet of soldiers, with protagonists that you truly care about, and antagonists you learn to hate.

Presentation 10 out of 10 – While the tech and art clearly some of the best yet to be seen, the sound design doesn’t fall too far behind.

Gameplay 10 out of 10 – From start to finish, the campaign is consistently an intense and viscerally exciting experience, where its multiplayer’s innovative design has epic matches that can last up to an hour.

Value 9.5 out of 10 – The campaign may only be 7 hours, and it may lack cooperative play, the replay value is insanely high. The multiplayer on the other hand outdoes the depth found in Call of Duty.

Overall 9.8 out of 10

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~ by smithbubbajones on March 2, 2009.

One Response to “Killzone 2 Review”

  1. Right now I am thinking FPS are becoming a bit played out. Hopefully the PS3 motion controller can fix things

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