Weekend Special: Killzone 2 Review

One of the purest FPS experiences you’ll get


It’s been a long time coming, but Killzone 2 is finally here. After spending the past 5 days with the games single and multi-player, I feel I’m finally ready to hand in my verdict.

In short, Killzone 2 is an epic, intense, and overall satisfying FPS experience, and I can’t help but recommend it to everyone that is into FPS titles, regardless of the platform you own. If you are a fan of the FPS genre, and never saw reason to pick up a PS3, then this is it.

First, I have to address something about this game: outside of its visuals, it is not a flashy, showy experience. There are no gimmicks present in this game. No alien arsenal of weapons (although there are a few guns later on that push more towards the Sci Fi end of Killzone 2’s spectrum), no ability to slow down or rewind time, nothing to slap on the back of the box to say, “Hey, look at me, I’m different!” It is a first person shooter. In my opinion it is the first person shooter of this generation so far.

It is pure, visceral, and excellent in its execution. The campaign mode is hefty, with excellent enemy AI, intense scenarios, a few surprises, and some segments that will truly drop your draw. I’ve already covered everything you need to know about KZ2 here concerning its story and features, so I’m just shooting the shit and sharing my thoughts with you as a gamer, not as a reviewer.

It goes without saying that the visuals are the best on any console this generation. They are also the best graphics for the FPS genre on consoles. It may surprise people that the game is not all gray and brown, despite the numerous trailers showing just one of the locales you traverse across its 10 missions. I don’t want to ruin anything for those that have yet to complete the roughly 10 hour campaign, but during the last few missions, you almost want to just sit the controller down and stare at the visual spectacle of it all. And then you get shot in the head by Helghast who are apparently unaware of the graphical feast that is their homeworld.

The environment is rich with detail: swaying power lines, dust and mist swirling about the air, carrying with it the debris of the battlefield. Texture work is generally very sharp and detailed, although there are a few areas where it’s low resolution, usually on some of the pillars or crates you may find yourself taking cover behind during your mission. The overall affect, however, is nothing short of stunning. If you aren’t at least a little bit impressed by the technical whiz bang of this game, check your pulse, you may be in need of some serious medical attention. I never got tired of the insane attention to detail, and each new level resulted in my jaw lowering ever so closer to the floor.

Enemy AI is very smart, retreating when taking too much damage, flanking, rushing, and even sneaking behind you and stealth killing you when you aren’t paying attention. On the normal difficulty setting, they prove to be a worthy challenge and I imagine brutal on the higher settings.

Story wise, I found it interesting and intriguing, and it kept me motivated from beginning to end. There are quite a few surprises in the narrative, though not as many as in the original Killzone. The ending was also highly satisfying, and while it left me eager for more Killzone action, it didn’t feel like I was cheated out of a real ending, just to hype up the inevitable third title in the series.

The dialogue is what I expect from a game set in the “theatre of war:” crass, melo-dramatic, and sometimes grating. I didn’t have a problem with the swearing, and even Rico’s grating personality. Brian Cox is great as Emperor Scolar Visari, and the rest of the cast portrays their roles well. Besides, I was too busy blowing the heads off of those vicious Helghast to pay too much attention.

The controls are solid, responsive, and have a weight and heft to them that flies in the face of most FPS titles out there today, which often feature lightning fast, twitch gameplay. This forces you to weigh your decisions more tactically. You can’t just run into a room, guns blazing and expect to be able to respond efficiently to a large number of Helghast who could be lying in wait. This results in a more methodically paced game, despite some of the hectic firefights that erupt, in particular near the end of the game.

Multiplayer

This is probably the heart of the Killzone 2 experience, and the area in which I feel it truly shines above all other FPS titles on the market. There are very few FPS titles that have XP systems, Class systems, an in game currency, and more, but Killzone 2 combines all of those into one spectacular online package, while offering a few new twists of it’s own.

To answer the question of what Killzone 2 brings to the table that others don’t? Multi-player is it.

The valor system allows clans to earn points by winning matches, then wager those points against other clans in matches.

The badge system is like the class system in FPS titles like Team Fortress and Resistance 2, but the twist here is that players, after earning all the badges, can then mix and match their primary and secondary skills to create a soldier that suits their own particular play style.

The Warzone mode, which allows gameplay modes from Bodycount, Search and Destroy, Find and Retrieve, Assassination, and more to seamlessly segue from one to another without having to break to the lobby is a masterstroke, and keeps the action fresh, and feeling like a real battle, where objectives often change on the fly.

Unlike a lot of other FPS titles, Killzone 2 is not a run and gun, arcadey experience in its multi-player outting. Teamwork and tactical thinking are truly paramount here. Running off, guns blazing, trying to be the hero will get you a trip to the morgue real quick. Communication with your teammates is key.

Thankfully, Guerrilla Games understood that 32 player matches can get quite hectic, and have therefore implemented a Squad system, where 4 players can break off and form their own squads within their team, replete with a squad leader, and communicate freely with one another. It helps cut down on the chatter clutter that can often occur with numerous players at once.

Rounding off the multiplayer gameplay are in game friends lists and invites, and most importantly, bots. Yes, Killzone 2 features AI controlled bots that an be added to multiplayer games when players can’t find enough live folks to play with.

Killzone 2 lives up to some nearly impossibly high expectations, and I had an absolute ball with the title.

VERDICT: BUY. This is hands down a must own for fans of the FPS genre. It’s visuals, immersion, and most importantly, multi-player is some of the best in the industry. If you own a Playstation 3, buy this game. If you don’t own a Playstation 3, reconsider that decision.

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4 Responses to “Weekend Special: Killzone 2 Review”

  1. namelessshe Says:

    Generally, I hate FPS games. I can’t play them and when I try it’s hilarious for everyone else watching. But I couldn’t look away. It looks great, and I agree that the enemy AI is eerily good. I can’t get over how they move when you aim at them, at just the right time.

  2. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

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  3. Hey Fig. I’ve been away for a few weeks due to the passing of a family member and a lot of traveling because of it. I just got back access to the rest of the world a day ago or so and already have my rental of KZ2 waiting for me to see if I can get through the control issues I had with the demo….though from what I have been reading it seems it is still there as well as some other Online MP issues, but I am still (after all this) giving it my best chance! Either way I won’t pass up on the SP Campaign for a game of this stature. TTYL

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