Killzone 2 PS3 Review

The original Killzone was the best FPS game on the PS2 as far as I’m concerned, it was only held back by developer, Guerrilla Games, massive ambitions, whilst the aging internals of the PS2 also meant that the game put a lot of heavy strain on the system. With Sony’s almighty PS3, Guerrilla now have the ultimate proving ground to flaunt their talents as well as the true ferocity of the Helghast.

Killzone 2 picks up the plot two years after the events of the original game: the ISA have decided to invade the Helghast planet of Helghan in order to show their gasmask wearing, red-eyed enemies who the boss truly is. The story may be decent enough, although it isn’t going to win any awards for storytelling or characterisation, ties to the first game have been near severed (some characters return, whilst others aren‘t even mentioned), and annoyingly, like the vast majority of action games, it’s seemingly geared towards the easier to please teenage audience.

Ever since the first trailer of Killzone 2 was shown off back in 2005, we’ve all been wondering how the final game would match up to the target render, the answer is actually admirably well. Sony’s flagship shooter is not only artistically beautiful but also technically as well, and it’s a game that really displays the amazing power of the PS3. The graphical problems, be it tricks or glitches, from the first game have been completely eliminated, therefore lighting is some of the best I’ve ever seen, animations are wonderfully natural and the whole visual package contributes to making Helghan feel like the dangerous place that it’s supposed to be. It may not completely match up to the bold target render, but it’s still one of the most attractive games that I’ve ever seen, and quite possibly the best looking game on the market today. It also sounds nice as well, with decent enough music and enough bangs and yelling to make you think that a war is going on.

Guerrilla have obviously been doing their homework of how to make PS3 games, such is the visual splendour on show here, but fortunately Killzone 2 isn’t merely style over substance, thus the most time and effort hasn’t just been invested in making it striking to the eye, it also plays really nicely as well.

The clue is in the recharging health, the shoot and blow things up missions, and being restricted to carrying two weapons at once, yes, Killzone 2 offers few real surprises and is generally a by-the-numbers FPS, but I’ve always been of the mindset that if it feels good to shoot something (be it people, animals or otherworldly creatures) in a game, then I’ll be pleased. The shooting in Killzone 2 is extremely satisfying, not only in the manner that bullets cause Helghast bodies to jolt forcefully but also in the powerful feeling that each gun brings with it.

The main quirk of the game is definitely the cover system, here the game stays in first person rather than flitting into third person. Sticking yourself to cover allows you to move along its length, and being an FPS you might even have to do some shooting as well, firing from cover by peeking out and using it exhaustively to avoid the flying bullets of the nasty Helghast.

The game also makes intelligent use of the SIXAXIS motion sensing to plant explosive charges, to turn valves and to keep your rifle steady whilst sniping. It’s a satisfying manner in which to use these actions and they also work as well as one would hope. SIXAXIS, you are deserving of more praise.

Also deserving of praise are the Helghast, the red eyes now have the brains to match their intimidating looks, something which was promised in the original game, but lets be honest now, as individuals they had as much intelligence as a lemming (this made me wonder what the atmosphere of Helghan or wearing those gasmasks all the time had done to their brain cells) and were at their deadliest in numbers. The more intelligent Helghast of this sequel now use cover extensively, flush you out from your own cover by tossing well placed grenades, and just generally act as if they are putting up a fight when you’re shooting at them, loosely moving around and making few laughable mistakes. It’s a shame then, that your accompanying team-mates aren’t the sharpest knives in the draw, and on the higher difficulties in particular, they prove themselves to be not much help at all (this is why co-op would have been so welcome). A heavy action section in the closing stages of the game (on whatever difficulty) is frustrating and annoying enough, but when you add in a partner that constantly needs revived, it makes it even more so. Fortunately, as a whole, Killzone 2 is much more forgiving than the original game, thanks to better spaced checkpoints.

It may not have co-op, but Killzone 2 still has a brilliant multiplayer mode for up to 32 players, curiously lacking the cover mechanic of the single player campaign though. Multiplayer is team based and, like recent Call of Duty’s, you’ll level up the more you play. Levelling up will earn you access to new weapons, skills and classes (uniquely, a badge system allows you to mix and match two of them) and there’s various modes included, which can all be played in a single match. Like the levels in the single player campaign, the maps look and feel great. If you can’t play online or would just prefer to go up against the AI, an offline skirmish mode is also an option.

Killzone 2 was certainly worth the long wait, the cover-based single player campaign may be a tad short, although it’s certainly memorable and has a smart opposition army to contend with, whilst the multiplayer is up there with the grandness of the likes of Call of Duty and Halo. Overall then, if you’re a shooter fan and have the means to play it, you should do so as quite simply this is one of the best yet.