Sequels can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, you have an established fan base who experienced the original for what it was worth, embracing the flaws and revelling in the highs.
On the other, you have newcomers who have heard the hype and are foaming at the mouth for the gaming experience of a lifetime.
Bearing this in mind, Killzone 2 is the much vaunted sequel to one of the most hyped games in recent memory. While it’s not without it’s issues, I’m glad to say Guerrilla have delivered a thoroughly enjoyable, beautiful and exhilarating game. Killzone 2 is, in a word, awesome.
Killzone 2 is a game which gives war a glorious edge. The cinematic style of the single-player campaign brings forth memories of classic war stories as an elite group of four soldiers battle against a malevolent enemy.
The PlayStation 3 certainly comes to the party, providing the platform for emotive graphics and rich, deep sound. In fact, the set-piece cutscenes and ‘on-rails’ sequences throughout the game serve to develop the characters and location so well, it really feels like playing along with a Hollywood film. This includes one-liners and quips straight out of a B movie.
When I loaded Killzone 2 for the first time, I did so anticipating a soulless shoot-‘em-up, but was genuinely surprised with the quality and humour of the scripting and voice acting. While not crucial to a good game, these elements are crucial to a great game.
After the scene is set, you are launched into what feels like a living, breathing warzone. The planet Helghan is not a nice place. In fact, you wouldn’t book your worst enemy a holiday there. Toxic winds swirl dust around shanty towns as crippled aircraft hurl into the dirt around you. The environs you do battle in really add something to the feel of the game, hardening your senses against the faceless enemy. By the end of the second mission you have been treated to some well crafted and thought out level design, again helping with the immersion which makes Killzone 2 so enjoyable to play.
Now for the guts, the all important gameplay. The core of the game involves you completing objective based missions in a small team, usually consisting of you and 2-3 AI players. Missions range from clearing choke-points of grunts to opening gateways and rescuing allies. Combat is what this game is all about and it’s pulled off masterfully. While I’m not usually a big fan of console based FPS, Killzone 2 kept calling me back for more. Anyone familiar with Gears of War 2 will be pleased to see a take cover system in place, allowing you to harness the aforementioned terrain to get your kill on. Smart controller setup gives you full control on the battlefield, L1 launching a melee attack, R1 lobbing grenades and L2 for taking cover. Within a few short minutes even a novice should be sprinting to cover and flinging grenades across the landscape like a pro.
Weaponry is often seen as the sweetest fruit of the FPS genre and Killzone 2 doesn’t disappoint. An array of rifles, sub-machine guns and heavy artillery are supported by some fun additions such as an explosive bolt gun and (later in the piece) a rechargeable lightning gun. Couple the hand held weapons with mounted machine guns, devastating anti-aircraft guns and tanks laden with rockets and you have an arsenal any war criminal would be proud of.
While none of the weapons are particularly original, they feel balanced for the most part. Few things in life are more satisfying than strafing around a shipping container and launching a rocket into a group of unaware enemies, especially on an engine as beautiful as this.
As I mentioned there are vehicles at your disposal, even if they are fairly restricted in terms of availability throughout the game. Even though you can’t rumble across the whole map with your heavily armed mech, the time you spend in vehicles still feels worthwhile.
As you have stormed their planet with the intention of killing their leader, the Helghast are, understandably, quite miffed with your presence. This is backed up by some solid feeling AI which sees enemy goons duck and take cover, popping up from hiding spots in a fashion that can lead to some surprisingly realistic battles. The good AI makes up for a lack of variety in foes, which I see as a pretty good trade off. For the most part, you’ll be fighting standard grunts with the occasional heavy duty soldier to dust off. Even on a moderate difficulty setting the Helghast provide a challenge, and overall the main campaign should take eight to twelve hours to complete.
While the Hollywood look and feel of the game engross you throughout the single-player campaign, the enemies are sharp and the weapons feel good, Killzone 2 is not without its flaws. The set-piece sequences which lead you into the more major elements of the game occasionally fall victim to triggering issues which prevent you from progressing. AI members of your squad can be left behind or race ahead, essentially turning them into dead meat. While not significant enough to make you give up on the game, in such a linear title it is disappointing to see glitches like this exist.
Overall however Killzone 2 is an absolute delight, and we can safely recommend this as not only one of the best shooters made for the PlayStation 3, but one of the best made for any platform.
To see Killzone 2 in action, check out our video review:
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