Faceoff! Resistance 2 vs Killzone 2

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I have to say that this weeks Faceoff was another challenge. I’m a huge fan of both Resistance 2 and Killzone 2, and they offer two very different perspectives on the FPS genre. Even so, it’s fun to compare the two premiere shooter franchises on the Playstation 3, so without further babble from me, let’s get this ball rolling!
STORY:
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Resistance 2: Set in an alternate World War 2 history, Resistance has earth being invaded by an alien race called the Chimera sometime in the 40’s before WW2 began. The human race sets aside their differences for the time being, and bands together to stop the threat. Players take control of Nathan Hale, an American soldier sent to help combat the invasion in Europe, and later he is recruited to the American “Spectre Unit,” a ragtag unit of hotshot commandos who are tasked with being the opposing force to the Chimera’s colonization of Earth. And that’s really the long and short of it.
Unfortunately, most of the more compelling narrative devices aren’t told through the story, but through the intel documents scattered throughout the chapters as you progress. I have to say that the story and characters are surprisingly well thought out and detailed. Developer Insomniac really put in a lot of work to make their world believable, it’s unfortunate that not all of it is told through the game. All the same, it’s still a fascinating story and level of detail.
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Killzone 2: Killzone’s narrative, which spans 3 games (Killzone on the PS2, Killzone: Liberation, on the PSP, and Killzone 2 on the PS3), is just as layered and complex as Resistance, but also fails to deliver much of the excellent background through the game, and instead it is also relying on gamers to collect intel, and actively pursue the backstory. The story is a futuristic war setting, with a more realistic bend to it as opposed to the usual Sci Fi trappings.
The story revolves around a race of exiled humans called the Helghast, who wage a war against the ISA. The gritty, harsh environment of planet Helghan is what turns these former humans into another race. They are stronger, faster, and overall more resiliant that a normal human being, and they are led by evil dictator Scolar Visari. Killzone 2 revolves around a group of soldiers tasked with assaulting planet Helghan and capturing Visari in the hopes that this will put an end to the ISA/Helghan conflict. They soon discover that the Helghast are in possession of a weapon that could turn the tide of battle against the ISA.
The stories of both Killzone 2 and Resistance 2 are deep, well thought out, and detailed, but unfortunately, most of it is hidden in the game itself, or through ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) spread out across the internet. It makes the experience more interactive, I suppose, as fans of both franchises become more active participants in uncovering the game’s narrative threads, but for an average joe that just wants to sit down and play the game and get a good story, they are only getting just that, “a good story,” and not really the truly epic conflict that both games actually embody.
I’d probably give the win to Resistance’s narrative overall, as it’s alternate take on World War 2 is very compelling, and feels more grounded in history (due to the twisting of current us history). Killzone 2’s story, while excellent as well, just doesn’t have enough meat on it’s bones in the end.
CONTROLS:
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Resistance 2: To go along with it’s out of this world sci fi premise, Resistance 2 features precise, “arcadey” controls. They are smooth, responsive, and intuitive. I can’t really say much else about it. Resistance 2 controls like most modern day FPS games like Half Life and Call of Duty 4, and shares similarities with those games control layouts. You are never battling the controls, and it never feels like you can’t hit what you are aiming at, due to a rather generous aim assist.
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Killzone 2: A surprising departure from typical console FPS controls, Killzone 2 does not try and mimic the precise movements of a mouse and keyboard. Instead, the game opts for a very heavy, “sluggish” feel to the controls. The characters are burdend with heavy armor and weapons, and they feel like it when playing the game. Some people love it (like me), some people hate it. Personally, I think they feel really tight and realistic. Since the game’s release, however, there have been patches and updates that have allowed players to further customize the sensitivity of the controls to their preference.
All in all, however, I’d give the controls edge to Resistance 2. The fast paced, arcadey feel puts the controls in the same category as games like Halo and Call of Duty 4, which are praised for their controls, while Killzone 2’s controls are split down the middle, with some loving it, and others hating it.
GAMEPLAY:
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Resistance 2: Naturally, Resistance 2 is a First Person Shooter, and in that respect, it’s similar to every FPS on consoles when it comes to exactly how the game is presented (hint: from the first person perspective). But where Resistance sets itself apart is with a few twists to the genre.
First of all, Resistance features an array of creative, “fantasy” weapons, instead of going for gritty realism. For example, players can use a weapon that’s primary fire shoots through walls (while highlighting any enemies hiding behind them), and whose secondary fire will put up an impenetrable shield to protect the player. Other weapons, like a Magnum, fires a primary bullet that lodges into an enemy, but when the secondary fire is pulled, the bullet will detonate like a bomb.
Other weapons include a sniper rifle that slows down time, a Chimeran assault rifle that can “tag” enemies, making each subsequent shot target wherever the tag landed, and also a weapon that shoots out buzz saw type blades that ricochet around the room, decimating any enemies caught in it’s path. Each weapon is unique, and has an equally unique primary and secondary fire.
The set pieces in the single player are also exceptionally well done, and feel on par with any sci fi blockbuster movie (such as a particularly memorable battle with a 300 foot tall Leviathan; a gigantic beast with razor sharp fangs and claws, who is hell bent on destroying Chicago). There is a lot of variety in mission structure and locales, so you never really feel that repetitive sting that other FPS titles can suffer from.
But that is only one aspect of the Resistance 2 package. On top of the 12 hour single player campaign, there is a separate, 8 player cooperative campaign that has players progressing through a parallel story, and helping to repell the Chimeran fleet. In this mode, players can choose a “class,” which allows them to specialize in one of three groups: Soldier, Spec Ops, and Medic. These three classes have their own role to play in an effective team.
Soldiers are the main fighters of the team. They use a gatling gun called a Wraith, which is large and powerful, tearing through enemies, but is also capable of putting up a large protective shield that the team can use for cover. Soldiers take the brunt of the attacks, and generally kill the most enemies.
Spec Ops are the offensive support. They use an assault rifle equipped with a scope (like a Sniper rifle), and can pick off enemies from afar, but their primary task is to toss out ammunition and grenades to allies that need it. With the Spec Ops, they are able to help the Soldier class indefinitely keep his protective shield up, and Wraith firing bullets.
Medics are rather self explanatory. They are the main defensive support character, as their primary weapon allows them to drain health from an enemy and use it to heal enemies, as well as restoring the players own life. They are also the best at reviving downed teammates, and do it faster than any other class in the game.
On top of this, players gain what are called “Beserks,” which are specific to their class, and gives them an edge. For example, one Beserk for the Medic allows him to set up an area of affect healing aura that will automatically replenish any allies who stand in the way. Another allows him to use his primary fire to paralize whatever enemies the beam trains itself on, allowing for the other characters to get in some free hits.
Players gain experience points for killing enemies, doing things pertaining to their classing (healing, protecting, dispensing ammunition), and completing the missions they are given. These experience points add to their level, and as they increase in level, they will be rewarded with more options for how to customize their character, from physical appearance, to armor, to weapon loadouts, and even new Beserks).
That may seem like a lot packed into Resistance 2, but it still doesn’t end there. Also included is a 60 player Skirmish Mode, which allows 60 players to form squads and battle it out over a series of missions and game types that seamlessly stream from one objective to the other. Players could start a match with some Team Deathmatch, and have that segue into Assassination, or Sabotage like missions.
As far as FPS titles, go, Resistance 2 packs a lot onto that Blu Ray disc, and it’s all highly addictive and enjoyable.
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Killzone 2: Also a First Person Shooter, Killzone 2 is a decidedly more somber and realistic approach to warfare. The game never plays up it’s sci fi setting too much, and it feels more like you are playing a war game, just set in a future with space travel and flying military craft. The single player campaign is fairly lengthy, at least 12 hours or more, and the gameplay is frantic and frenetic. The game is a series of campaigns that main character Sev and his squad must complete in order to get to their primary goal, which is to capture Emperor Scolar Viscari.
The missions are rather varied, and the locales, despite being confined to just the planet Helghan, are also diverse and interesting. The muted color palette does nothing to dissuage this, it truly feels like you are a part of an epic conflict. Set pieces are also very well executed, with quite a few intense, hectic gunfights against literally tons of Helghast troops.
Like Resistance 2, Killzone 2 also features a rather robust multi-player offering, even if it is missing a co-op campaign, and no split screen gameplay. The game features 32 player matches, on a variety of maps inspired by the single player campaign.
The game also features a class based system that is much more in depth than in Resistance 2. There are 6 primary classes, each with a Primary Badge, and a Secondary Badge. For example, a Medic has a primary badge that allows him to revive downed players. His secondary badge allows him to throw out medi-paks that allies can pick up to heal themselves during battle.
Players will gain experience points for killing enemies, and they will gain ranks as that experience accrues. By ranking up in a specific class, and performing certain tasks within that class, players will gain those secondary badges and other perks.
On top of this, players are also able to mix and match a Primary and Secondary badge, to create a class more suited to their play style. For example, if the player wanted to revive allies, and request air support from a sentry bot, they’d combine the Medic’s Primary Badge, with the Tacticians Secondary Badge. Or maybe they’d like to be more cunning and stealthy, they could combine the Scout’s Primary ability of cloaking himself, and the Sabotuer’s secondary ability of throwing out proximity C4 charges, and sneak around planting bombs in key enemy locations.
Added to Killzone 2’s multi-player mode is the ability to also segue from one game type into the next (like in Resistance 2’s Skirmish mode, although in Killzone 2, it is called “Warzone”), and the ability to set up in game tournaments amongst clans, and wager “Valor Points” against other clans.
Killzone 2’s multi-player is ultimately more focused polished and paced, with an emphasis on teamwork and squad coordination (within a 16 player team, they can form 4 squads of 4, and work as a smaller group within a larger group to complete tasks), whereas Resistance 2 is more on the fast paced, with an emphasis on large scale, frantic battles (although coordination and teamwork is useful).
Both are excellent gameplay experiences, but I think in the end Killzone 2 is more polished in it’s overall offering, while Resistance 2 throws so much at the player it could easily become overwhelming (60 player matches, while a hoot, are crazy intense).
GRAPHICS:
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Resistance 2: Not a slouch in the visual department in the least, it is a step up from it’s predecessor in terms of texture detail, lighting, and animation. Weapon effects are impressive, and backgrounds are rife with detail and ambiance. While the game can’t stand toe to toe with the likes of Killzone 2 or Gears of War, there is some very excellent visual work going on in the game.
Even more surprising, is the fact that after the game is beaten, some extra options are unlocked, allowing players to turn on and adjust the intensity of effects like motion blur and depth of field. Toying with these settings actually improves the visual quality of Resistance 2 significantly, and I have to wonder why developer Insomniac didn’t simply turn them on as default.
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Killzone 2: A lot of hubbub has been generated over the years concerning Killzone 2 and it’s visuals, but all that matters in the end is the result. And what a result it is. Currently, I think it’s safe to say that Killzone 2 is the bestlooking console game of all time. Character animations, texture work, effects, ambiance, lighting, this game is simply a technical marvel, and it simply shatters any preconcieved notions of what a console like the Playstation 3 is capable of producing visually.
It has undoubtedly raised a bar that many FPS games will be held to in the future. I don’t think I’ve ever been as immersed in a game world as I was with Killzone 2. The level of detail in each of the environments is simply astounding. The only issue with the visuals I can immediately point out is that the lip-syncing is off during dialogue scenes. Considering how lifelike and fluid everything else is in the game, this sticks out like a sore thumb.
This is kind of a no-brainer, and a little unfair to Resistance 2. Insomniac’s Resistance engine is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but Guerrilla Games set out to show off the power of the Playstation 3, and in the four years it took them to develop Killzone 2, it has done just that.
No other game on the console compares (although games like Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and the upcoming God of War 3 and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves are certainly rattling Killzone 2’s throne, if not preparing to overthrow it), and, truthfully, no other game released on any console features the level of detail that Killzone 2 presents.
CONCLUSION: I’m still personally torn on this decision, as I truly love both games, and for very different reasons. In the end, however, I’d have to say that Killzone 2 is the more comprehensive game, featuring a great combination of visuals and gameplay that is simply unmatched in the FPS genre on consoles. The single player is epic, and the multi-player is deep and customizable, with some excellent features. It’d be easy for me to be partisan, and simply say, choose both, but if you only had to choose one, you can’t go wrong with Killzone 2. It’s a showpiece not just for the Playstation 3, but for the FPS genre on consoles.
WINNER:
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Killzone 2
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