Killzone 2 Review
BY Kalidh Mohamed | POSTED: 16 January 2009
The most definite representation of an interplanetary war!
Truth is, all my life I’ve been an ardent PC gamer that scoffed at inferior FPS experiences on the console. My colleagues always teased me for being a hardcore PC fanatic (fancy name for “fanboy”). It’s a given fact that PC gamers are much harder to please in terms of quality or gameplay and hence, console FPS ports are always a disappointment. Throughout the years, being an extremist that I am, console games like Halo 3 only managed a “hmmmm”, while few others like Resistance 2 and Gears of War 2 never went beyond the “meh” factor. After the recent buzz and hype behind Sony’s upcoming FPS, I decided to sit down and spend some quality time with the game and I cannot deny the truth… Killzone 2 has made me a believer!
Killzone 2 sees you take the role of Thomas Sev of the ISA, tasked with a nightmarish war on a planet called “Helgan”, home to a populace of pissed off half-humans called “Helghast”. For those wondering, Killzone 2 is not merely a shoot-em-up title involving big guns and brutal enemies. The game’s story runs deep and the enemies you’re fighting against have a long and sorrowful past of torture and repression. The first thing that becomes apparent when you land on Helgan is the beauty of destruction - A rigid, temporal wasteland that’s bathed in decay and looms in dust. The atmosphere is so thrilling and exotically crafted in such a way that you can almost feel that debris in your lungs. And you immediately start questioning the logic behind invading a hell hole. Once you’re done drooling at the realistic bunch of pixels pouring out of the screen, you will be introduced to your enemies – A marching callous fleet of beady red eyes. The subtle “pop” that Killzone 2 starts with only grows in amplitude as the game progresses, and all the digital chaos never seems to diminish throughout the game. You’ll be fighting alongside your AI controlled squad members and in almost every firefight, your team-mates act convincingly like human partners unlike other war games where you had a dozen AI team-mates that only manage to peek from their cover and shoot at blank infinity while you did most of the killing. Killzone 2 vastly depends on timed sequential events that lead to another set of objectives, be it blowing up a bridge or releasing a platform. The movements are fluid and the controls are smooth, making it “feel” real unlike Resistance 2 that had controls that made it feel more ”analog”.
Apart from your team mates, the Helghast can prove to be quite a formidable lot using cover effectively when needed while sometimes running crazy at you for a vicious melee attack. Though, you will be fighting in squads for the most part, you will sometimes be left to fend for yourself; that along with being tasked to revive squad mates make for a primordial war scene. Sev is able to wield one primary weapon in addition to a secondary pistol. From assault rifles to highly powerful bolt guns, Killzone 2 packs a plethora of firepower at your disposal. Enemies react differently depending on the type of ammunition used and the body part targeted – like, they knock back or go limp when shot in the face or you can make them fall forward by shooting the knees. While the game itself offers little in the way of being open-end, players can still access a playground of vast landscapes which makes roaming about much easier. At one point in the game, we encountered a heavy – a huge hunkering mass of armor that makes Marcus Fenix look like Mickey Mouse. Some of the boss battles can be hard & challenging and mostly involve a hidden technique to bringing down the enemy. Though the combat has turned out to be incredibly fun, we couldn’t help but be a little disappointed with knife kills. Sticking a knife through the Helghast did not feel as gratifying as a COD4 knife kill. While COD4 delivered a satisfying stab, Killzone 2 was more on the side of monotonous slashes.
To further raise the bar, Guerrilla Games has perfectly executed the use of Sixaxis motion controls for completing objectives like setting charges, turning valves or even steadying a zoomed-in sniper rifle, which brings us to our most loved level in the game where you’d be stalked by caped, hunch-back enemy snipers able to render themselves completely invisible in a venue that looks like a ravaged industrial graveyard. Couple that with their near fatal accuracy and gripping music, it produced one of the best gaming moments we have experienced in a video-game so far. If you thought Call of Duty 4 was amazing, you’ll find Killzone 2 to be electrifying!
As much as we loved Killzone 2’s absorbing single-player campaign, the meat of this title lies in its amazing multiplayer component. The game incorporates a class-based system where scoring kills and completing objectives will get you moving up the ladder. From Saboteurs to scouts, each class offers a different flavor of gameplay and much more when you take into account the ability to mix and match different classes into an amalgam of destruction. Though the multiplayer is reminiscent of Team Fortress 2, the game takes it one step further and offers an intense “on-your-toes” action. Packing in a vast array of weapons and classes, Killzone 2 proves to be the epitome of fiery fragdom offering hours of fun long after you’re done with the story mode. What really made us raise our brows is “Warzone”, a continuously shifting battlefield with different game-types chained into one EPIC online fragfest! Another welcome addition is the clan system that allows you to better network with you friends and organize tournaments albeit using an in-game system of “cash” to place bets. Combine that with a 32-player supported match and you have yourself a healthy dose of mindless violence. We can “cautiously” confirm to the fact that, with an extensive range of game types and an intricate clan system, Killzone 2 blasphemously trumps over Call of Duty games in terms of gameplay and replayability.
Graphically, Killzone 2 is the BEST looking game on a console so far. With its myriad post-processing effects and textures running on the screen, it’s apparent that the game is in a league of its own. Every little detail has been given attention like the sparks flying off when bullet meets metal or the intricately crafted gun models. To further up the ante, sand bags can no longer be used as fortresses and columns crumble realistically when introduced to a grenade. Your battle scarred rifle and the superbly rendered anarchy keep reminding you of a war far away from home. This is one of the few games that made us “believe” that we were engulfed in a war and it can only be witnessed when playing the game for yourself. Apart from the load times, the game ran smoothly throughout our session and didn’t stutter even during intense firefights or explosions. The environment is composed brilliantly with chaos always riding on your coat-tails. Reload animations are indulging and character physics is downright AWESOME! While baddies feel like a moving set of polygons in many games, Killzone 2 manages to make the characters appear like fully “stuffed” dudes instead of just a hollow image.
In-game audio is equally as good as the visuals this game packs. For those lucky enough to have a 5.1 surround system will experience a new dimension of audio fidelity. You’ll be able to hear every individual clank of expelled bullet casings while the rear audio channels keep you engrossed with choice epithets from your team mates. Though Sev is not too fond of talking, we can’t really complain at the lack of character dialogues. Besides, this game more than makes up for it in terms of environmental havoc and plentiful explosions.
At the end of the day, logic predicts that a game with an intense single-player campaign and a killer multiplayer element is a win-win situation in anyone's book. To be honest, Killzone 2’s secret ingredient is the fluidity in gameplay that we have come to enjoy more than its graphical prowess or jaw-dropping visuals. And that’s what games have always been about… We're surprised to see Killzone 2 blows our expectations out of the water with a memorable SP campaign and a stellar MP component. To put it short, this game makes Gears of War 2 look like a high school attempt at gaming and that is a HUGE compliment!