Yes, I’m once again behind the times on this game review, but I’m hard pressed these days to get quality time with a PS3, much less enough to play enough of a game where I feel like I can adequately discuss its merits.
Well, fortunately, I found time to play though nearly all of the PS3’s future-shooter opus, Killzone 2, which is universally agreed to be one of the system’s best games. After a rocky start, I really started to love it, and now I just need a few more hours to see it to completion, but I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of it at this point.
Honestly, I had never even heard of Killzone when the sequel came out, and couldn’t tell you if it was a game for PSone or PS2 or even ever existed at all. I would have thought to lump it in with the “generic shooter” category of games like Resistance and Red Faction who don’t have particularly loyal fan bases.
And the fact is, Killzone 2 is a generic shooter, but it’s the absolute emperor of all generic shooters, and executes its gameplay nearly flawlessly, to the point where almost no critiques are even possible.
How the game feels would best be described as Call of Duty set in the year 2400. The aiming, running, crouching, grenading and shooting is nearly identical to Modern Warfare, which is without a doubt a good thing. In Killzone 2 however, the enemies appear to be a bit smarter and more ballsy, often sneaking around behind to knife you while their buddies distract you from afar.
The only real complain in gameplay is that when shooting someone, it doesn’t quite feel as real as it did in COD. Enemies took fewer bullets then, but their pinpoint accuracy and sheer numbers made them dangerous anyways. Here, you can often empty four or five bullets directly into a Helghast’s skull before they fall, but then on other occasions, one pop from your generic pistol will drop them.
Even though most of the weapons in the game are pretty generic lead shooters, the variety in power, firing speed and accuracy make no two guns all that alike. There are a few fun ones tossed in like the flamethrower (the best executed version of the weapon I’ve seen in a game) and what I like to call the “**** you “ gun, which quite literally shoots a bolt of lightning instantly frying anything nearby.
But outside of one or two cool armaments, there is nothing inherently original or innovative about Killzone 2 in the least bit. This is best demonstrated by the incoherent story, where a bunch of generic grizzled humans fight a bunch of Nazi ghost aliens who are all voiced by a British Darth Vader and have the misfortune of having a uniform designer who thought it would be a good idea to put glowing lights on all of their faces. A “please shoot me in the head” sign would have been more subtle.
The Nazi aliens are building a giant lighting weapon to do…something, and you have to trek through a series of environments which range from grey and destroyed to brown and super destroyed in order to stop them. I didn’t see how it turns out, but I’m guessing there’s room for a sequel.
The main selling point of the game from the get-go has always been its supposedly revolutionary graphics, but honestly, that’s the aspect of the game I noticed the least. Yes, everything looks pretty great, but honestly, I saw no difference between this game and Farcry 2 or Gears of War 2, and even on a 1080p LCD TV, there weren’t any scenes where I found myself in revered awe of the scenery. It looks good, but it’s not going to change your life.
But polish and plot aside, is Killzone 2 fun? Yes, absolutely, it’s a blast. It’s a much more in your face shooter than “hide behind this and pop out” Gears of War or “jump up and down like a goof in order to not die” Halo 3. I felt like I could be more of a Rambo, running around kicking ass and taking names, rather than a cowering infantry grunt forced to hide behind a parked car until everyone else ran out of ammo.
It’s a definite notch in the PS3’s belt, which is in desperate need of worthwhile exclusive franchises as most of its old staples jump ship. There’s no reason why Killzone might not hop over to Microsoft for the next sequel, but for now, Sony should relish their victory.