by Joseph Barron
reviewed on PS3
It's finally here!
It's been a long time coming, but after a 4 year wait, Killzone 2 is finally out on store shelves. Developed by Guerrilla Games, this is a PlayStation 3 exclusive sci-fi FPS, set in a galactic war between two human colonies, the ISA and the Helghast. This time around, the ISA are launching an invasion of the Helghast homeworld in response to their invasion of the ISA planet Vekta in the original Killzone.
Ok, so let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. Killzone 2 looks beautiful and is comfortably the best looking console game ever made. The graphical fidelity is mind-blowing, right from the gorgeous opening cinematic which very clearly sets the tone for the rest of the game.
The textures and models are very gritty and realistic and the visuals really give you the impression that you're in a filthy battlefield which is being ravaged by warfare. There are a huge amount of particle effects going on as well, from billowing clouds of thick black smoke which blows in the wind, to fire which sends sparks and embers into the air. The smoke in particular is some of the most impressive ever seen, often making the visibility poor during explosive fire-fights. The lighting is equally stunning with NPCs and the environment casting beautiful shadows.
The most extraordinary thing about the graphics is that the framerate never dips even slightly despite everything that's going on and that really is a compliment to the PS3 hardware as much as it's a compliment to Guerrilla's art team. What everyone wants to know, though, is how the game holds up against that infamous E3 2005 trailer. I can say that it certainly looks as good as that footage and it often looks much better. It is a truly amazing feat to behold.
I only noticed one problem with the visuals, which was that the lip-synching was a bit strange on occasions, but that's an incredibly small issue when everything else is so awesome.
The sound is terrific as well, with extremely intense battlefield sounds and a very well produced orchestral score. The voice acting on the other hand is very basic, except for the Helghast leader, who is performed magnificently by British actor, Brian Cox, who many of you will know as Ward Abbot in the first two Bourne movies.
The story of Killzone 2 very much follows the trend set by the voice acting in that it is very generic. It is paced very similarly to Gears of War and like Gears, you won't really find yourself emotionally invested in what's happening. That said, it does a good job of explaining what's going on, especially to people who didn't play the first game.
The graphics might be incredible and the story might be functional, but without great gameplay, this wouldn't be the killer game that the PS3 needs. Thankfully, Killzone 2 delivers this in spades. The shooting and the feel of the weapons is very solid and often reminded me of Call of Duty 4, which is no bad thing at all. Where this game really differentiates itself from the FPS crowd is with its movement controls.
Moving in Killzone 2 is designed to convey to the player the sense of being weighed down by a large amount of military gear. Turning in particular takes a lot of getting used to, because you turn faster the longer you hold the stick in a direction, rather than the further you push it (which is the FPS norm). It's a very strange feeling at first, but you'll gradually get used to it and you'll find that it controls just fine. There's also an interesting first person cover system where you remain in first person view while in cover, unlike other FPS titles which have used a third person camera for cover, such as Rainbow Six Vegas and Quantum of Solace. Like many things in the game it's uncomfortable to control at first but works brilliantly once you adapt to it.
In the campaign the level design is of an extremely high quality and there's enough variety with the enemies and weapons that the pacing doesn't become awkward. Many of the weapons are very traditional, such as the standard assault rifle with red-dot sight, shotgun and rocket launcher. Killzone 2 certainly has some other outstanding tools of death though, like the Boltgun which can pin enemies to walls (and then explode!), the sniper rifle which requires you to hold the six-axis still to steady your aim and the über-powerful Lightning Gun.
No Pros and Cons at this time