Killzone 2 PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Guerrilla
Without a doubt, the most hyped PlayStation 3 game to date has to be Killzone 2. Personally I find the amount of hype that has been generated for this game to be unbelievable. The original Killzone was dubbed as a 'Halo Killer' and in many respects the description couldn't have been further from the truth. The game was graphically impressive but in other respects it was mediocre at best. Most people seemed to be excited by some pre-rendered E3 footage rather than the quality of the first game however. Since Killzone 2 has been released it has received some stellar reviews. As someone who didn't enjoy the original game that much I didn't think I'd find a lot to like in Killzone 2 but whilst I wouldn't agree with some of the celebratory reviews out there, I have to admit it's the best FPS on the PlayStation 3 so far.
The major difference between Killzone 2 and the disappointing original game is that it delivers a quality FPS experience with great graphics and it manages to keep the action flowing with explosive action. In Killzone 2 you'll play as an ISA soldier, called Sev, who's part of an assault on the Helghast's home planet of Helghan. That's pretty much all there is to tell about the game's storyline (at least until the latter part of the game and to reveal any details from there would be spoiling the game for those who haven't played it). The game is one where you're forced to make extensive use of cover and there are some intense shootout sequences throughout the course of the game. One of the requirements of a great FPS is that there must be a satisfactory range of weapons to use and here Killzone 2 does not disappoint and you'll find variants of the machine gun, rocket launcher and sniper rifles etc. You're limited to one primary weapon so, as in the Halo titles, you'll find yourself having to occasionally swap your assault rifle for a rocket launch or another weapon that will be beneficial at a specific moment. Competent FPS players will probably finish the campaign in around a dozen or so hours (it took me longer) which certainly isn't bad in terms of length.
Killzone 2 is an impressive FPS and one that all fans of the genre who own a PlayStation 3 should definitely purchase. That said, the game stumbles slightly in its single-player content. The main problem with the single-player game is the storyline, or rather the lack of it to be exact. Killzone 2 doesn't do a good job of fleshing out the storyline or its characters. With this being an FPS it's not exactly a problem, but it's nice to have a quality storyline running throughout the course of the game in order to give some reason to the action. Likewise it's good for the characters in a game such as this to have some depth. Halo had the Master Chief, Gears of War had Marcus Fenix and Half-Life had Gordon Freeman. All of these other games had characters who were interesting and added something extra to the experience. It's almost impossible to feel any kind of attachment with the characters in Killzone 2 and that's disappointing. It's also worth pointing out that for most of the game the enemy AI isn't as good as it could have been, which is a shame. The difficulty comes with the amount of enemies you'll have to deal with, and at times the action certainly gets rather tasty because of this.
Killzone 2 is an impressive FPS and one that all fans of the genre who own a PlayStation 3 should definitely purchase. The main reason for this is the multiplayer side of the game which is up there with some of the best multiplayer experiences you can have on a console FPS. The multiplayer mode in Killzone 2 allows up to 32 players to fight on eight of the maps. Each of the modes are team based so you'll be part of a team consisting of up to 16 players. What makes the multiplayer mode so addictive is that it encourages you to invest more time in it. Initially you'll have very few options in the character classes you can choose and a really small amount of equipment to select. As you rank up, you'll begin to have more and more options open up to you. This is a very rewarding experience and really keeps you coming back for more. The game contains five game types that you'd expect from an FPS such as Capture & Hold, Body Count (essentially Team Deathmatch), Assassination, Search & Retrieve and Search & Destroy, but it does things a little differently from other games in the genre. Rather than have each of these game variants divided up into separate game types, matches are played over a number of rounds and for each round a different game type is used. This is actually a good way to go about things because it mixes up the action quite nicely and allows every player the chance to shine in their preferred game rather than having the monotony of being confined to just one game type that you aren't that keen on.
Where Killzone 2 is undoubtedly impressive however is in the quality of the visuals. It's arguably the best looking FPS on any of the consoles to date and whilst it's not as impressive as those pre-rendered visuals that were shown at E3 several years ago, it's certainly close enough to satisfy most people. The game has its fair share of dark and gritty environments and it's a look that really helps to make you feel as though you're part of this dirty, drawn out war and that really adds to the experience. The frame rate is mostly impressive too. There are some moments when the frame rate drops but it's not too noticeable and certainly never problematic.
Killzone 2 is a bit of a mixed bag for deaf gamers. The game does offer subtitles and they are enabled by default. All of the important dialogue in the game, mostly giving you orders, is subtitled and the speaker's name is displayed alongside the subtitles. However, the opening movie that plays when the game first loads isn't subtitled. There's a fair amount of peripheral dialogue that isn't subtitled although it's not really a problem being unaware of what's being said here. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled at any time by pressing the select button. Pressing up on the directional pad will show you a location marker for your next objective which is quite useful if you happen to lose your bearings. The game could have done with some visual representations of important sounds. For instance when a grenade is tossed your way, there are beeping noises emitted to alert you to the fact that you need to get away from your current location as quickly as possible otherwise you're going to get blown up. Deaf gamers will have no such warning and at times this can be frustrating.
Unlike the original Killzone, Killzone 2 is actually a great FPS and one that is worthy of praise. The game's one action sequence after another and the pace of the action rarely eases off. Sure the AI could have been better and the storyline could have actually been worthwhile but these are only minor complaints. On a more serious note it could have been more deaf gamer friendly and it's unfortunate that it's not. Still there's no denying that it's a great FPS with a great multiplayer mode that ensures that the replay value will remain high long after all of the hype has gone away.