Killzone 2 Demo Impressions

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Hey FPS fans! I was going to save my impressions for the weekend, but decided the hell with it and post it now.

In short: the demo was awesome.  Short, but sweet, and I think it perfectly incapsulates the phenomenal  gaming experience Killzone 2 is going to be when it hits Playstation 3 consoles in just 3 short weeks.

A more detailed look after the jump

The demo features just a portion of the first mission in the game and broken up into two parts; Corinth Sands, and Stahl Arms Warehouse. You’re playing as Thomas “Sev” Sevchenko, as he and his Squad, led by Rico from the original Killzone, are attempting to land on the planet Helghan for what they hope will be the final assault against the Helghan Emporer Scolar Visari. From the moment the demo starts, you find yourself plummeting to the bank of Corinth River, expletives flying as you leap from your wrecked craft and make your way to the thick of the action, where the previous squad is being repelled by very angry Helghast.

The first thing you notice right away are the visuals. Mere screenshots don’t do this game justice (hence the gif above to help give a sense of the amount of detail and care put into the game). It truly delivers on the high expectations set by the target render, and then some. Character models are some of the best I’ve ever seen, as well as character animations.

But even more striking than the characters is the battlefield itself. Rife with detail and atmosphere, from the lapping of the waves at the river bank, to the ISA ships flying overhead, to the massive towers and Helghast structures moving about in the upper atmosphere. Vast Helghast weaponry can be seen in the sky off in the distance, hovering, and blasting ISA airships out of the sky. It’s almost impossible to describe all of the detail going on in this short taste of Killzone 2, but it is staggering, and overwhelming.

Not only do I believe that Killzone 2 is the best looking FPS title on any console, I believe it is the best looking video game on any console. Hands down, no exceptions.

Now that the visuals are out of the way, how does it play? In one word: superbly.

Since that’s probably not enough, I’ll say that the controls are unlike any FPS out there, because of it’s strict adherance to realism. People will say the controls are “sluggish,” and that may have some negative connotations to some, but I think it depends on the game. In this case, Killzone’s controls aren’t so much “sluggish,” as they are “heavy.”

Guerrilla Games opted for heavy characters, carrying heavy weaponry, and the controls respond accordingly. This is no twitch shooter, where you can pull a 180 turn at the drop of a dime. The way Sev moves, the way the guns recoil (in particular the pistol), and the way he interacts with the environment has a weight and realism to it that I’ve never experienced in an FPS before. Killzone  2 is hands down one of the most immersive games I’ve ever played in terms of making me truly feel like I’m inhabiting the body of my character. I don’t feel “floaty,” or “loose,” I feel like I’m a person trapped in a warzone, heavily equipped but outnumbered, and I have to fight like nobodies business to get out alive.

The controls work is what I’m ultimately getting at. I think any other shooter, a shooter not aimed at near absolute realism would be remiss to go with this type of control system, but here, it just feels right.

I also have to mention the unique to Killzone 2 first person cover system. It’s exactly what it sounds like: you take cover while never leaving the first person perspective, and while it took me a bit to get used to, I quickly learned that it is your lifeline. Proper use of cover will save you almost every time. Improper use? Well, let’s just say you’ll be back at your nearest checkpoint in no time. The mechanic is rather easy to use: you hold down the L2 trigger, and you will cling to any cover, where you are protected from enemy fire (excepting grenades, of course).

When you want to pop off a shot, you can do it one of two ways: you can either simply press the fire button and Sev will pop up and fire off a few blind shots, or you can press up on the Left Analog Stick, to manually pop Sev up, and take carefull aim, before firing off. I found during my playthrough that a mix of the two worked rather well.

The demo features four weapons to play around with – the ISA assault rifle, the ISA pistol, the ISA Rocket Launcher, and the Helghast assault rifle. In my opinion, I think a gun is a gun, and they are fundamentally the same, but here, each weapon has a unique feel to their handling, recoil, and power, just like in the real world.

The pistol packs quite a wallop, and can generally drop a Helghast in 3 to 4 shots, with the catch being that it has a massive recoil that takes a bit to get used to.

The ISA assault rifle is probably the easiest to use in both shooting from the hip, and in iron sights, but works best when you fire in short bursts, so the recoil is lessened.

The Helghast assault rifle is a bit more powerful than the ISA rifle (or so it seemed to me), but it’s iron sight view is a bit more difficult to use, and it’s overall accuracy doesn’t seem to be as precise as the ISA rifle.

The Rocket Launcher is pretty self explanatory, and works like you’d expect (and hope), a rocket launcher to work.

The weapons are all very fun to use, and I learned that a nice mix between using Iron Sights, and shooting from the hip was effective in taking out the enemy.

As you work your way through the Corinth River, you find yourself in the Stahl Warehouse, and that’s when the demo really starts to show off how intense firefights will be, as you are quickly ambushed by a squad of Helghast. It is up to you and Garza to take them out, and work your way to the control room, where the demo ends.

Helghast appear from all corners of the warehouse, leaping over banisters and taking up offensive positions, and soon it is up to you to defend Garza while he hacks a control panel.

This brings me to one of the most important aspects of  an FPS: enemy AI.

Squad AI is fairly decent. They didn’t get in the way, and they certainly didn’t take all the kills, and they watched my back more than just once or twice.

Where this demo really shines is in it’s enemy AI, which is rather remarkable. The Helghast are a viscious, cunning, tenacious, and ultimately worthy foe. The demo is set on the “Trooper” difficulty (Normal), and that proved rather challenging, especially when multiple Helghast are involved and begin employing tactics like flanking, suppressing fire, grenades, and everything else in their arsenal so they can take you down.

I was taking care of three Helghast on the beach near an enemy tank, when I was flanked by a fourth, who meleed me to death. I couldn’t leave my cover, because the others were throwing grenades and suppressing my movement with their cover fire. I only died once during that first demo playthrough, and by the third playthrough, I managed to make it through unscathed by death, and only using the Pistol (i wanted to see how hard it would be with just the pistol – it was).

This taste of the game, combined with my time with the Killzone 2 Multi-player beta has me convinced that Playstation 3 owners are in for quite the treat come February 27th.

Share your own demo impressions in the comments section below.

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4 Responses to “Killzone 2 Demo Impressions”

  1. they really could have done more with the demo. The graphics were amazing, but it didnt seem to let the player do enough. I know for sure im gonna love this game, but the demo was pretty lame. 😦

  2. i understand what you mean, but i thought the demo did what it was supposed to do: give the gamers a taste of the game.

    i’ve been reading so much on the message boards things like “well, it LOOKS good, but how does it PLAY?”

    i thought the demo was enough to shut those people up, who had doubts about it.

    considering that the game is only a mere 19 days away, i enjoyed the preview of it quite a bit.

    why was the demo lame?

  3. I agree that the AI is the most advanced I’ve encountered, it’s a great game. If you;re interested check out my (spoiler free) review below.

    ———————————————————————————

    Check out my Killzone 2 review: http://greghorrorshow.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/killzone-2-review-ps3/

  4. I thought the demo was good , yes short , but it was a solid sneek peek at whats to come . I liked their attention to the small details like aiming your rifle and running out of ammo to scope out and reload to scope back up , that was a nice feature . As for controls , I found what worked out really well and smooth was the last control setting type , think its called advantage 2 and than make your sensitivity half , that made for a effective play. Also liked the timing on gas barrels , the detail of shooting the boxes for the canisters to fall out and than explode , could make some nice timed kills with that .

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