#938 Killzone 2

Posted: 17th September 2011 by Jeroen in Games
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85th game played so far

Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: Playstation 3
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Guerilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

And so we continue our journey into games defined by, well, shooting people. Thanks to the games we recently borrowed, we’ll be playing more of these… meaning we’ve been training our trigger fingers and been doing our best to train our reflexes.

Killzone 2 is a game by Dutch game developers Guerilla Games. I thought I’d put that bit in there just to show my allegiances. Anyway, even so, this is a shooter as we saw, where you are part of a team of soldiers who try to caputer the Helghast (bad guys) leader. There’s plenty of weapons and vehicles at your disposal. Good luck!

Our Thoughts

Out of all the games we borrowed, this was the one we had to finish early, as Chris asked to get it back when we were done with it – the others were less urgent. That sort of says something about the quality of this shooter and its attempts to draw you in. That or this was the newest game he lent us and therefore the one he probably hasn’t had a chance to properly play through yet.

Either way, this game is still very well done. Despite a few oddities that we’ll go into, I’ve rarely seen you sweat this much when playing a game, or ignore me as much as you did. I think that is because this is the first single-player game we have covered that demands near 100% attention, unless you enjoy having a grenade aimed up your jacksie. When you play a lot of platformers, puzzles and racers it is easy to forget the joyful adrenaline rush that can be experienced in a first-person shooter; especially one that gives you near-zero breathing space between skirmishes.

In a sense my playing style of carefully holding back was rewarded, as it gave me time to determine what to do, rather than charging in and being overwhelmed, which happened often. Enemies are plenty and strong and they seem nearly endless. It also ended up with you regularly running out of ammo and being left with only a starting pistol to defend yourself.

As Jeroen kindly mentioned I prefer a more headstrong approach where I charge in and smash the Helghast with the butt of my assault rifle, which I did fair enough with… my lower difficulty play helping as I’m not as used to these games (or controls). Compared to my regular deaths at a higher difficulty level where some enemies require multiple magazines to even knock his blasted helmet off. Still, it allows players at all experience levels to feel challenged which is great since gamers tend to complain how games are getting easier. That’s my excuse for it, at least.

Still, at any level the game is challenging – in general, the normal difficulty level would be considered hard in many other games. As said, the enemies have hit point amounts that are higher than most – one or two hit mooks in other games would often need five or ten times as much in this game. Possibly a slight exaggeration, but the enemies generally took a lot work… while there were very many of them. Grenades were incredibly useful when they were there… which wasn’t often, considering their rarity.

As with all successful first-person shooters there is a lot that can be said about the available weaponry. Regular weapons such as assault rifles and SMGs can be found with variations belonging to both your side and the enemy. Then there are the big fun weapons which include the missile launcher and sniper rifle. There is a lack of originality that can be seen in other sci-fi oriented shooters such as Timesplitters and Halo but there is enough variation to peak interest. Then there is the Boltgun which is FPS mana from heaven. Still there are enough variations on the theme to maintain interest but, with the exception of the Boltgun, not enough to inspire awe. I’d be hard pressed to name a favourite myself.

Like many other games in the genre, this also features some static weaponry – gun turrets and such. Unfortunately there’s nothing exciting here either. The feeling you get is of a solid set of weaponry – one they know works – without anything gimmicky that sounds interesting, but has no point to it and just clutters. This isn’t helped by the fact you don’t have a real inventory – you just have your standard pistol and a single weapon you pick up along the way. Some grenades, but that’s mostly it.

This lack in imaginative arsenal pales as a problem when compared to a lack of a non-online multiplayer. Call us old-fashioned but there are some game genres that should automatically receive a multiplayer mode, with first-person shooters being one of them. When the first instalment of the Killzone franchise was released the bigwigs in Sony’s marketing department attempted to have the gaming world believe that this would be their ‘Halo-Killer’. However, as of Killzone 3, which was released in Feburary, the developers at Guerilla Games have rectified this with an offline co-op mode… still doesn’t help with this game though.

One of the reasons why this jars is that the gameplay is a lot about team work… a lot of time has been invested in having guys around you who support you during the fights and who need your help defending and healing them. While this can get more annoying than fun at times, the AI is good enough to keep this fun. But it’s also a kind of gameplay that would transfer brilliantly to multiplayer, even in the same room – you can just see yourself shouting to the person next to you to help you out, warning them about threats. Now, however, you can only do so online right now, which still works, but isn’t as brilliant.

Here is the part of the review where we make a complete U-Turn since; in all honesty, this could be one of the best first-person shooters I have ever played. Fair enough there is no offline multiplayer or an imaginative armoury but who gives a flying fig when the game is as good as this one. Unlike the storyline of Halo, a game which (shock horror) I have yet to see the genius of, it is one that is immediately relatable and is undeniably engrossing. It is, in the basis, very simple, but through broadcasts and other info, you find a lot of depth in it – not necessary to understand what’s going on or why, but it adds to the world in an otherwise unobtrusive way.

Further drawing you in are the graphics. Not photo-realistic, they do present the idea of a simple, functional world. Nothing too alien, but the type of world you expect to see in this type of gritty sci-fi world. The opening sequence showcases the graphics in a jaw-dropping manner. It really makes you wonder what there is left to improve on before we faceplant into the uncanny valley.

Despite a few niggles here and there, the game works well, and the issues we have are more choices made during development than actual issues. The lack of coop multiplayer is a shame, as we were keen to try that, but other than that this was a good experience.

Final Thoughts

There’s a few other small additions that we could discuss here that were a fun addition – for example, there’s a nice feature in a few places where you open valves and such by rotating the controller – but mostly it’s a solid shooter. It doesn’t do anything creative, but does its job as a really good shooter, which is all we really want from it.

Possibly the best shooter we’ve played, even though future games might change that… right now this stands as the top of the genre for us.

  1. […] away is the lack of cover-based shooting, something which we became very well acquainted with in Killzone 2. On the other hand, the squad based gameplay, where you actually have squad mates with you who […]