Killing in the Zone
November 12, 2008 – The first-person shooter is no stranger to this generation of consoles. To some, there are already way too many of them and not enough variety in the other genres. I tend to agree with the latter and want more from a game than the run-and-gun attitude. However, there are a few that I find enjoyable and feed my need to kill friends and other participants online. Sony, for a while now, has been promoting Killzone 2 as the best of the best. The rumblings on the net are that it could very well be the “Halo Killer.” Recently, I got to spend some time with it to get the answer for myself.
I’m not going to cover the depths of the impending campaign mode. Instead, I am going to give you the grittiness of the multiplayer. First off, I have to comment on the graphics. Lately, when you hear words like phenomenal, amazing, superb, etc. when referring to graphics, you kind of wash it off with an “Okay, sure” attitude. Well, I can say there needs to be a new word for Killzone 2’s graphical power, maybe “phenomamaziperb”. There is something about a game, when you feel like you are sucked into the world just by observing the visuals. Do they look like you are standing in the world in real life? Maybe not quite, but there is an ambiance that feels so close to real life that I have yet to experience in another online multiplayer game. That is how I feel about the environments.
When it comes to the character models, there are a few things that leave something to be desired. While decent in their own right, they tend to look bland and very standard. Simply put, there’s nothing in their design that we haven’t seen in one form or another. One other problem that I had, and it is a small one, was the blood splatter. I know that shouldn’t be a big deal, but when I shoot something, I need to see that realistic blood spray! Unfortunately, there is something about the blood that doesn’t seem quite right. Literally, the blood looks like cel-shaded blood packets exploding during Halloween.
Blood complaints aside, seeing the little smoke trails from the shell casings sent satisfying shivers down my spine. It made me want to expend more rounds on my enemies in whatever gameplay mode I was in. This is one area at which Killzone 2 excels. While I spent the majority of my time in Warzone matches with varied rules and set missions, I was able to experience a plethora of these modes. Usually in online multiplayer games, you have to select one game type, capture the flag for example. Killzone 2 offers seven different types of gameplay in each match: Assassination, where either one of your team members must be protected from the opposition and vice versa; Capture and Hold, where you find three locations and have to secure them from the enemy for a period of time; and then my personal favorite, Bodycount, which is nothing more than killing the enemy more than they kill you.
The simplicity of the controller layout is easy to get used to. It specifically caters to players who have grown accustomed to the Sony controller layout. So, in a way, the controls are designed for the lovers of the controller, which is a good thing for me. Without having a great control scheme in the game, you’d feel like you were playing Duck Hunt all over again!
As far as weapons are concerned, I have to admit, with all the chainsaw attachments and other various harbingers of doom that several other games have brought to the table, I expected a weapon to make a difference between Killzone 2 and the rest. Unfortunately, at least in the time I had with the game, I found no such weapon. Instead, what I found were fully fleshed-out, stronger representations of traditional weapons. There are several weapons planned for the game, but I really liked and preferred the standard issue assault weapon you receive when you first spawn in the map. After all, your weapons are only as good as the first one you receive.
The sounds of the game, even down to the somewhat annoying commander that barks orders for your group, are all well done. My favorite thing, however, is that with certain weapons you can hear when they’re getting hot from firing. There’s also a certain level of satisfaction from the bullets entering your enemies and hearing a little impact squish. Other than a few moments that will make you smile, the sounds are traditional to the first-person shooter genre.
All in all, Killzone 2 is shaping up to be one of the definite must-buys of early 2009. With this fun online multiplayer, it will be hard for PS3 owners not to pick it up when it comes out. I can honestly say that unless the single-player campaign mode destroys the fun you can otherwise have with the multiplayer modes, this is definitely one I plan on picking up.
Sony’s Answer to
Gears of War 2?
August 8, 2008 – The original Killzone for the PS2 was one of the system’s more popular FPSs, and fans of the game are no doubt happy to know that the PS3 is getting a sequel early in 2009. It may be easy to overlook a title like Killzone 2 with more-hyped games such as Resistance 2 on the horizon, but this is not one to pass by. Killzone 2 is shaping up to be a blockbuster FPS, and if you’re a fan of the genre, this is a game that you need to get excited about.
In many ways, Killzone 2 is a fairly traditional FPS. The controls are basic, with shoulder buttons for firing and tossing grenades, as well as the ability to sprint, take cover, jump, and a variety of other actions. The game features a ton of weapons and emphasizes the importance of working together with your squad. Enemies work together to take you down, so helping out your allies and keeping them alive is critical to your success.
The story here picks up after that of the original, and it is clearly not a main focus of the game. It really is a typical sci-fi plot involving a brave human army fending off a massive alien-esque invasion. Oh boy! Still, players who enjoyed the pacing and storytelling of the original Killzone will be happy this time around; you’ll again take control of Sev, a member of the Legion, and square off against the Helghast. The story is more than an excuse to shoot stuff and, as a result, is typical of most FPSs. Killzone 2 is going to be a story-driven game, and that’s something nice in a genre where plot has been tossed aside.
The A.I. in Killzone 2 is great, to the extent that you’re not going to be babysitting your squad mates. Keeping them alive is important (though you’ll be able to revive them if you get close enough to a fallen comrade), but at the same time they’ll happily help you out if you’re in a jam. This title challenges players to be a bit smarter about their gameplay strategy: It’s easy to die in Killzone 2 and running out with guns-a-blazing is a sure-fire way to get you killed. Taking advantage of cover and outmaneuvering the foe is the way to ensure a victory.
In a market full of FPS titles – some good and some not-so-good – Killzone 2 does have some particularly redeeming features that do a good job of making it stand out from the rest of the pack. The strong, squad-based fighting mechanics are one such item. Another is Killzone 2’s incredibly meticulous attention to detail. The game is chocked-full of destructible environments, enemy soldiers, and tons of little touches that make Killzone 2 one of the most realistic, life-like shooters out there despite the decidedly sci-fi premise.
Hot off the Grid!
August 29, 2006 – This is so hot off the press, my retinas are burning. Look at those visuals. Wow. While the first Killzone didn’t exactly ignite the gaming world on fire in the gameplay department, no one could accuse it of being an ugly duckling. The PS2 worked like a dog to bring you graphics like that, while the PS3 simpy purrs like a kitten and delivers jawdropping eye candy like the images laid out before us.
The Killzone 2 footage shown during Sony’s Pre-E3 Press Conference still hasn’t been confirmed as realtime gameplay. Many of us consider it to be excellent looking CG until proven otherwise. The official word from SCEE VIP or Development Phil Harrison states that some of the trailers shown during the presentation were rendered using the ingame assets. If it is revealed to be CG, Sony just shot themselves in the foot. If the real game doesn’t appear to be anything close to the majesty of what was shown, there will be a backlash from here to Japan. Many of the rabid PS3 fanboys who have been hunkering down in message boards everywhere raining on the Xbox 360 fanboys parades, will have to eat a whole lot of humble pie. Perhaps a worse punishment would be too force them to play one of 989’s sports titles on the PSone. Shudder……
We haven’t learned much about Killzone for the PS3, in fact, we’re just assuming they’ll call it Killzone 2. Guerilla Games has mentioned that they are being extremely diligent about creating realistic behavioral AI which will be completely aware of the surrounding environments, even if the lay of the land changes. In general terms this could mean that if the environments suffer realtime damage, the AI will respond accordingly and for example, may not continue running into a wall that is no longer present. The relationship between your character and the NPCs will also be far more realistic. If a teammate goes down in battle, other NPCs will race to him and try to get him out of the line of fire. Guerilla also mentioned that NPCs will toss you a weapon if you happen to run out of ammo.
Taking a rib from Halo and Tribes, Killzone for the PS3 will also feature a multitude of various land, sea and air vehicles which can be commandeered and used to turn the tides of battle or simply get you from point A to point B. Finally we learned that the gameplay will be very openended and non-linear for each of the games levels. We’re not quite sure just how non-linear they intend, but it certainly sounds interesting.
Guerilla Games didn’t quite manage to knock Halo 2 from its perch atop the FPS hill this past fall, but anything goes next year when the PS3 comes knocking. With such buzz surrounding the visuals, Killzone 2 will be one to watch over this next year.