This is where I start raving about Killzone 2 and my readership that prefers Xbox 360 either turns their head or rolls their eyes. Let me be the first to say that up until about the beginning of February, I had the same immediate reaction to Killzone 2. After the reviews starting pouring in, most of which stayed above the 9/10 fold, I started paying closer attention and began to get excited about the game Sony’s been touting since long before the PlayStation 3 has even been in our hands. It seems the wait was worth it, and the PS3 finally has its great exclusive shooter. Frankly put, Killzone 2 is fucking awesome!
Let’s Not Beat Around the Bush
I’ve sat through the intro movie almost every time I’ve sat down to play Killzone 2. Sure, it looks fantastic. But it gets me pumped to play, something fierce!
Now that your interest is piqued, let me tell you that that is only the tip of the iceberg. There isn’t a massively deep story backing Killzone 2, but what story there is, is entertaining and ends with a climax that has me wanting another sequel… like, now!
The basis is this – The Helghast are human descendants who left the colonies to inhabit the planet Helghan. Due to the planet’s harsh environment, they were forced to adapt physically and mutate to the point where they can no longer be classified as human. In the first game, the Helghast invade the planet Vekta, which is the ISA‘s stronghold. I assume by the end of it, the Helghast were driven away. This time around, the people of Vekta are invading Helghan after a hostile video by the Helghan Empire leader, Scholar Visari, is broadcast. The first chunk of the game takes place in mostly dark and dingy streets of the surrounding area of the Helghan capital. The end goal is to reach and secure Emperor Visari, but of course, things get FUBAR in no time and you find yourself trekking all over the Helghast home world.
Phew, I Need a Breather!
Killzone 2 is intense! And not like that gum that makes your eyes water, intense. I’m talking, non-stop action for 20-30 minutes at a time. Barely enough time to reload or scrounge for ammo between gaps in fire fights. You’re constantly out-numbered, completely surrounded at the best of times, and forever fighting an uphill battle. It’s just great!
Enemy AI are pretty well educated in combat mechanics. Especially evading incoming fire, which is more than I can say about most shooters. You shoot in their direction and they’ll duck, run, or even dive for cover. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself being flanked on a regular basis, as the Helghast are fairly quick on their feet and hardly stop moving long enough to pop in a fresh clip.
Killzone 2 is a very satisfying shooter. There’s a gun for every preference and style – they’re big, loud, and do all kinds of damage on your enemies and the surrounding environments. It’s definitely a cover shooter, and you’re actually able to take cover behind objects and pop up or out just like in Gears of War. The difference being that you’re in first person perspective and it’s not quite as elegant. The left trigger is the “duck” button, which also makes you hug nearby surfaces. Normally, I prefer using the left trigger (or bumper on the PS3) for aiming down the sight, but constantly using the left trigger and bumper felt quite awkward. After a short time, I switched back to the default control scheme, which uses a click of the right stick to aim and left bumper for melee. Obviously, that took a bit of getting used to, but honestly wasn’t a huge hurdle. During online play, you don’t often use cover, so the Call of Duty control scheme works just fine.
Short, But Worth It
The single player campaign is almost shockingly short. I finished it in about 6 and a half hours. I don’t normally find games to feel short, even if they are. But Killzone 2 definitely felt like it was over too soon. That said, it’s a very enjoyable campaign and there’s lots to keep you busy on further play-throughs. There are enemy intel cases to be found, and Helghan insignias placed through-out the environments to shoot down. Of course, there are Trophies for finding all of the collectibles as well as completing the game on the different difficulty settings.
My only other beef, is that the game feels a bit on the linear side. There were moments when I knew something was supposed to happen, but it wasn’t happening. This was usually caused by a Helghast in hiding. Often, the next event won’t trigger until all of the baddies in the area are disposed of.
Fantastic Online Play
It’s no secret that I don’t spend much time playing multiplayer games. I prefer flying solo, chipping away at campaigns or playing co-op far more than fighting against friends or strangers online. But Killzone 2 seems to be one of the rare exceptions where I’ve really been having a lot of fun playing online.
The game types are pretty standard, and all team based. What makes Killzone 2 different is the sheer size of the matches, for starters – with support for up to 32 players. 16 on 16 games are a ridiculous amount of fun! There’s actually only one game type, called Warzone. Depending on the server you connect to, it can be any number of the five main game types, or all of them combined. How it works, is by rotating the game type every few minutes without so much as a brief interruption. Every so often you’ll hear your commanding officer give you a new object, which might be to retrieve a propaganda speaker, or assassinate a target, or defend an area, or just slaughter the opposing force. Each time the round takes a new turn, the winning team is awarded a point for their victory, and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins. You earn XP along the way, which is multiplied if your team wins. There are plenty of unlockables in the form of character classes, weapons, and even perks ala Call of Duty. I’ve only played a few games so far, but I’ve had an immense amount of fun each and every time I’ve sat down to play.