Title: Killzone 2
ESRB Rating: M
Review by: Bill Jones
Hype is a double-edged sword. Attaining it is often easier to do than living up to it.
That’s the situation Guerrilla and Sony found themselves in after the now infamous E3 2005 trailer first elicited a mass response of “Wow!” in reaction to Killzone 2’s apparent achievement in graphics and the power of the PS3, then gearing up for its 2006 release. That response quickly shifted to “Hmm” when questions arose about the legitimacy of the content and made developers admit that the scenes were pre-rendered target video rather than actual gameplay footage.
The situation ultimately meant that Guerrilla had to either step it up and prove it could do what was shown in that video, or it would face certain scrutiny from the video game community at large upon release. Sony, likewise, had a lot riding on the game. The first Killzone somehow became a flagship title for PlayStation, hailed by fan boys, despite the fact that outside of its advanced graphics, it was a rather middle-of-the-road shooter. And even with great shooters on the console such as the Resistance series, Sony was still looking for a centerpiece title for its PS3 that could draw like Halo, which openly or quietly most developers of first-person shooters has been trying to beat since it debuted.
So the game went into hiding, with brief appearances here and there, during a long production process that finally came to a head this year. And the question remains – Does Killzone 2 live up to the hype?
To begin, the game is one of the most graphically impressive titles available today, not only living up to, but in some cases surpassing, that original E3 footage. The game exudes the highest levels of production value in every single crevice, from the story, to the cinematic presentation, to the graphics, to the sound (which is incredible in surround), to the AI and to just being an original game. Is this Halo? No, but it doesn’t try to be.
Killzone 2 is a masterpiece in its own right. The single-player campaign has its cliché moments and gameplay elements can seem derivative, but it is better than most and finds an original spot in the crowded genre by pouring attention into every last detail.
Killzone’s controls can feel a little awkward at first, presenting a small hurdle for players, but they’re easy to get used to. And it is important to note that they cater to the title’s gameplay. Killzone doesn’t have the same hairpin accuracy of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or as quick of gameplay as Halo, but while it works for those titles, Killzone is better off for it.
The design of the stages is incredible for the tactical gameplay and remain fresh throughout the campaign, which is well-paced and ramps up the difficulty as it hits the gamer with action, action and more action, followed by an interesting ending. But it’s important that the game still delivers after that ending with a solid online component.
Online multiplayer, much like the campaign, doesn’t deviate much from the FPS norm, but the overall high-quality effort on the part of Guerrilla shines through. The maps, the weapons and the gameplay modes have been reworked to a point that if true perfection existed in the realm of games, Killzone 2 would be knocking on its door, with class systems and the like to keep players busy for the long haul. Gamers get a seamless system where they pick their favorite modes at the outset and games just continue on the same map after each is completed, keeping the action going nearly non-stop, which is dangerous for anyone with a social life, because Killzone 2 is just the kind of game PS3 owners will want to keep playing.
Killzone 2 is not a perfect game, but no amount of detail was spared in its creation and it shows. The temptation is there to compare it to the genre’s best, but what matters most is that when Killzone 2 is running on the PlayStation 3, it is everything the gamer could ask. It lives up to the hype.
For more info, www.killzone.com