The much hyped saviour of PS3 has been in the works for half a decade and the final game has finally emerged – not blinking into the light like a newborn baby but bursting out armed with a pump action shotgun struggling to fight off the weight of expectation.
Following on from the first Playstation 2 game and Killzone Liberation on the PSP, Killzone 2 picks up the story as the ISA (Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) decide to take the fight to the Helghast on their own planet after the Helgans attempted to invade Vekta, the planet the ISA calls home.
And it dumps you pretty much slap bang in the middle of everything, as anyone who’s played the demo will know.
Unfortunately for you and your ISA buddies the Helghast aren’t quite as beaten as your superiors would have you believe.
So is Killzone 2 as good as, the pretty much universal, top scores it’s received?
Let’s start with the graphics. Yes this is the best looking game I’ve seen – the way the light falls and the smoke effects following explosions are fantastic. The whole game looks amazing and in particular the deaths of the Helghast stick long in the mind with their brilliant motion capture stumbles, slumping to the floor as their legs give way. There are quite a few different animations as well so it doesn’t get too repetitive.
Which brings me on to the sound. The score is superb, wratcheting up the tension as you try and blast your way through another fire fight.
One of the things that got me was the cries of your fallen comrades. You can revive teammates when they fall with a tap of circle next to them. It helps with the feeling of panic as you’re penned in by enemy fire and across from you your buddy is on the floor crying ‘help me! Medic! Please! Help me!’
As well as that the Helghast themselves had some brilliant death groans – and some particularily gruesome screams if you set them on fire. They don’t die instantly from the flamethrower, instead failing around for 8 or 10 seconds desperately trying to put themselves out.:eek: The Helghans also had some good dialogue. It was nice to hear them shout ‘grenade’ as it’s usually just your own side who let you know about incomings!
Which brings me on nicely to the enemy AI. This is easily the most advanced AI I’ve encountered. From the simple (scattering out of the way when a grenade is thrown at them rather than just sitting there waiting for it to go off as usual) to the difficult (flanking you, flushing you out) it’s all done so well that it leads to some genuinely tense fireplay. You’ll need to keep them penned in with cover fire otherwise these guys will actually come and find you – and kill you probably.
The Helghast are not sitting ducks whatsoever. You feel like you earn each kill and the sense of achievement is excellent after a tight skrimish in enclosed conditions.
You also care what happens to your colleagues – I often found myself exacted revenge for fallen buddies, whether it was a main colleague or one of the many army back ups from the bigger gun fights.
The singleplayer campaign is short but sweet – clocking in at just over 8 and a half hours on medium. I found medium to be more than difficult enough for me but that’s down to personal preference. I’d rather get through a game on medium than get annoyed with it from dying too much on hard. As it was I died plenty on medium!
Multiplayer isn’t ‘live’ yet but there is a singleplayer ‘Skirmish’ mode against up to 15 other ‘bots’ for practice. Very cool mode, with a new objective every 5 minutes. So it’ll be assasination (one team protects the other tries to kill) or capture the flag-esque objectives. After 20 minutes a winning faction – Helghast or ISA is announced and you start again. Obviously it was only against bots but they were pretty leathal on Elite setting.
As I mentioned in my previous first impressions the stutter is still there when loading the next section but after the third or fourth level I kind of stopped noticing. Would’ve been much better if this had run smooth all the way through but it’s a small complaint.
I also found my buddy AI improved as the game progressed which had been a gripe in my initial hands on with the game.
One thing I would’ve found helpful is a little bit of direction. On occasion I found myself without a directional marking and no idea what I was supposed to be doing/killing so a friendly ‘it’s over there’ or ‘get rid of the tank’ would have been nice.
Very small picky things which I suppose goes with the territory when looking at something as hyped as Killzone 2.
I’m not sure whether this game will revolutionize first person shooters – there isn’t much here that develops the genre. However it could be something to revolutionize the PS3 itself as it really showcases what a powerhouse the console is.
Killzone 2′s biggest achievement is, possibly because of the brilliant graphics, sound and AI, that you feel involved and become embedded in the Killzone universal whenever you pick up the pad.
In one particularily frantic battle I ducked into an alcove on the verge of death and a second later a Helghan backed into the entrance. I let off a round into the back of his head and it wasn’t until he fell that I saw he was ISA not Helghast. It sounds ridiculous but I actually felt my stomach go over a little when I realised what I’d done. That’s how much this game sucks you in.
It’s not perfect by any means but it’s easily the best first person shooter I’ve played and I recommend anyone with a remote interest in this genre to check this out immediately when it’s released on the 27th.