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    Killzone 2

    Game » consists of 8 releases. Released Feb 27, 2009

    Take the fight to the Helghast in this first person shooter from Guerrilla Games.

    All these years later I don't understand why Killzone 2 was so beloved. And I hate the DS3!

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    bigsocrates

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    Edited By bigsocrates

    I should start off by saying that I never played Killzone back when it was relevant. My first experience with the series was in 2014 when I played the HD PS3 version of the first game. I kind of enjoyed that game.

    I then tried Killzone 2 in 2019 and...I really didn't like it. While Killzone 1 was sort of an interesting throwback shooter from the PS2 days, slow paced and not quite like anything "modern," Killzone 2, at that point, just felt like an inferior version of a standard console FPS.

    I'd like to point out, as I always do when complaining about these things, that I do have recent experience with games contemporary to Killzone 2. In recent years for FPS alone I've finished The Darkness 1 and 2 and the original Bioshock. I enjoyed all of them, clunky though they were at times. If you want to expand it out to include third person shooters the list is much longer and includes generally ill-regarded games like Fuse and Inversion, along with the pretty good Shadows of the Damned (which they are now remastering.) I just finished the Switch version of Bayonetta this month and enjoyed that quite a bit. I rehash this to head off the criticism that it's not fair to compare Killzone 2 against 2024 games, and it's not. It is, however, fair to compare it to The Darkness or Bioshock, both of which are two years older and much, much better (admittedly Bioshock is considered an all-time classic, but The Darkness scored 9 points lower on Metacritic than Killzone 2 did.)

    So what don't I like about Killzone 2? It's not so much the visuals, though they are ugly and desaturated like so many shooters from the era, or the story, which is "What if Gears of War was a lot more boring with characters you didn't care about at all?*" Neither are great, but they're far from unforgivable. The real problem I have with Killzone comes down to two things. The Dualshock 3 and the insane inaccuracy of the guns.

    I've never liked the Dualshock 3. The Dualshock 1 was an incredible controller when it was released. I actually remember going to the store to get mine (mostly because I helped an old man who had fallen when I was on my way back home) and I will support it as a better overall controller than the The N64 trident. The Dualshock 2 was also very good for the time. I thought it was inferior to either Xbox controller (I WILL DEFEND THE DUKE) but on par with the beloved Gamecube controller and clearly better than the kind of bad Dreamcast controller.

    But by the time 2006 rolled around the Dualshock design was old and outdated**. Admittedly it's better than the Wiimote for most traditional games (what isn't?) but it was thoroughly outclassed by the Xbox 360 controller, especially when it came to shooters. For a game like God of War 3 or Mortal Kombat 9 (which I played on PS3 because of Kratos) the Dualshock 3 is adequate, and I can understand why fighting gamers in particular prefer its more responsive shoulder buttons to Xbox's triggers. But for racing games the lack of good analog triggers was an issue and for FPS games those loose, stubby, analog sticks just weren't adequate. I've never understood how people could actually like them. The Dualshock 4 isn't my favorite controller by any means and I've had my issues with the Dualsense, but both those controllers at least manage to have tight enough sticks to allow precise control. Trying to aim with the Dualshock 3 makes it feel like your crosshair is sliding over a layer of butter. Every time I go back to that tiny little piece of plastic and those loose sticks I get angry all over again.

    A lot of PS3 shooters compensate for this in various ways. The Infamous series (and I played Festival of Blood last October so I have fresh memories of it) gave you a lot of abilities with explosive effects meaning that precise aiming wasn't overly important. Uncharted's "stop 'n pop" style of gameplay and ability to move quickly and shoot from the hip or use stealth and melee meant that it was only a major problem when sniping. But Killzone 2 doubles down and is pretty fast paced with your character being fragile AND has incredible amounts of scatter on all the guns. Aiming in Killzone 2, even if you get the reticle dead on target, often feels like you're giving vague suggestions to the bullets as to where they might want to go. And those bullets are drunk and hard of hearing. Gunfire just sprays all over the place, everywhere but on target, and it sucks. You can sort of aim down sights by clicking in the left thumbstick (what a horrible system) but even then your accuracy is crap. Combine that with the bad controller and you have a shooter game where IT'S NOT FUN TO SHOOT. It's frustrating, even when you're not dying. Thanks, I hate it.

    Booting up Killzone 2 again I remembered exactly where I was. At the end of the Salamun Bridge level where you have to take down a gunship on a rooftop. This encounter isn't super hard or anything (the trophy has a 42% completion percentage on PSN so it's something even casuals can do) but it compounds all of Killzone 2's problems. The way you do it is by shooting these blue electrodes sticking out the side of the roof to stun the gunship and then shooting it with a rocket. Repeat 4 times (at least on normal) and the boss is dead and the level passed. Sounds straightforward and there's in game dialog telling you what you should do so it's not confusing.

    It's an awful experience. The first time I got to this point I tried it a few times and I just put the game and walked away. FOR FIVE YEARS. The second time I had to readjust to the controls and scenario but was immediately and viscerally reminded as to why I stopped playing. The fight requires you to grab a rocket launcher from the ground to shoot at the gunship and while I think you can use your assault rifle to shoot the electrodes and then grab the rocket launcher (you can only carry one long gun at once) to shoot it I think the better way is to use your pistol to shoot the electrodes and use the rocket to damage the gunship. The pistol is extremely inaccurate though, even aimed down sights, and things are made worse by the fact that the gunship often hovers out of range of the electrodes and also fires missiles that create smoke and particle effects that make it impossible to see them. It's a battle that leans into all the worst aspects of the game and often involves getting killed from nowhere or being in situations where you can't do anything for the smoke to clear or the gunship to swing back to where you can stun it (if you shoot a rocket at it while it's not stunned it dodges.)

    It probably took me fewer than a dozen tries to finish the battle, but it felt so chaotic and random I had to grit my teeth through the whole thing. Just an awful encounter. And it's not the only example of a Killzone 2 area that annoyed me. There's another part where you have to fight endless respawns until you do something to trigger a cut scene, and that one the game does not really explain to you and it really made me miserable.

    I know Killzone 2 was mostly popular for its multiplayer, which is long dead, but I can't imagine this inaccurate shooting was more fun in that mode. Killzone did some interesting multi-mode hopper stuff before most games so maybe that was part of it, but the shooting in a game has to be good for the modes to matter, and I really hate Killzone 2's shooting. I'm confident the multiplayer wouldn't have saved it.

    I'm well aware that you can use a Dualshock 4 or Dualsense with a PS3 now, and that might resolve part of the issue. I'm also aware that I can just not play Killzone 2. It's a 15 year old game that Sony hasn't even bothered to remaster or, last I checked, stick on PS3 streaming. Guerilla Games has moved on to the Horizon series, which I really like. Nobody cares.

    But Killzone was a major franchise and I want to understand why I don't like it. I'm also stubborn and I don't want this game to "beat" me. I like playing older games sometimes and the Hellghast are cool enemies. There are also some times, such as when you're using a shotgun where accuracy isn't necessary, where the game is okay. I don't know, I make bad gaming decisions. As many complaints as I have this is far from the first game I've ever played.

    I just don't understand why it was so beloved. To me it's at most a 6.5 or 7 out of 10, not a 91/100 (the metacritic average.) It has nothing on The Darkness in any area except, perhaps, the multiplayer. And I'm not even going to bother comparing it to Halo.

    I got a PS3 in 2010 but it was by far a secondary system for my HD gaming that generation. The controller was a big part of it. I did enjoy Uncharted, inFamous, God of War 3 and even Ascension. I also really enjoyed smaller Sony projects like Flower and rain, and of course Journey is an all time classic (some of those I played on PS4), so it's not like I consider PS3 a bad console. But I played the vast majority of my multi-plats on Xbox 360 and the Dualshock 3 is the main reason why. And I never tried the Killzone franchise because I thought I'd hate it with that controller. Now, 15 years later, I know I was right.

    *Killzone 1 predates Gears so the setting isn't a rip off, but the storytelling in Killzone 1 was very different from 2, which is clearly heavily influenced by Gears.

    **I never used the Six-Axis but everyone seems to have hated it.

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    GTxForza

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    I would like to see Killzone 1, 2, 3 & Shadow Fall get remastered for PS5 and PC plus have gameplay mechanic improvements, ideal for those who never played them or wanted to relive their fun memories.

    I prefer Xbox 360's controller pad more than PS3's Dualshock 3. Well, Dualsense is my favorite PlayStation controller pad, because of its very Xbox-like feeling.

    Overall, I prefer the Halo series more than the Killzone series, which I'm more familiar with in terms of plot, characters, and gameplay.

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    ThePanzini

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    #2  Edited By ThePanzini

    Yeah, I never got the reverence for Killzone finishing 2 was a real struggle. The entire experience was giant blur of grey samey linear levels, all I remember is Brian Cox and the heavy clunky controls. I think the DualSense is the best controller ever made in straight contrast to the DualShock 3 being the absolute worst, I used the CronusMax and the 360 pad.

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    sombre

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    It was the solution to "PS3 has no gaems"

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    judaspete

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    #4  Edited By judaspete

    Look, I don't like throwing the fanboy/girl label around, but I do think it had an influence here. The first few years of the PS3 were kinda shaky for PS fans. They came off PS2 being the clear dominant "team", and were suddenly presented with an expensive console, that was losing out on exclusives, received oftentimes inferior ports of multiplatform games, and a year head start for the main competition. They NEEDED Killzone 2 to be the Halo Killer that the first game wasn't.

    To be clear, I don't think it was a bad game, it had a lot going for it (especially production values), just got a bump from the 1st party effect.

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    bigsocrates

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    @thepanzini: I can see an argument for the Dualsense as the best ever stock controller (there are better $200 controllers) despite my early issues with it. A lot of the fancy stuff is way underutilized though.

    But the DS3 is nowhere NEAR the worst controller ever. Even if stick to stock controllers it's better than the OG PS1 controller, every Atari controller, the CDI controller, the 3DO controller, the Amiga CD-32 controller, and even Dreamcast (not enough sticks/buttons for the period.) You can make an argument that it's better than the Wiimote.

    @judaspete: But why did so many reviewers give it high scores then? 1UP and Giantbomb both gave it perfect scores! Neither outlet was known for fanboyism.

    I agree it's not a BAD game, but while the production values are good for the time the brown and gray color palette sucks. Hellghast have fantastic designs though!

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    Lab392

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    #6  Edited By Lab392

    While I loved Killzone 2's campaign and multiplayer, the game doesn't match with everyone's sensibilities. Everything about Killzone 2 is slower, heavier, and more deliberate than most other FPSs. That philosophy connected well with some people, and it didn't connect well with others.

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    AV_Gamer

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    #7  Edited By AV_Gamer

    It's funny, because I tried to play Killzone 3, but couldn't. The gameplay was too sluggish for my taste. I never played Killzone 1 or 2, but I watched Lets Plays of them. But I did get and played Killzone Shadowfall when I got my PS4, and I think that game has one of the best single player campaigns in a first-person shooter. But a lot of people act like Shadowfall was not as great as those previous Killzone games, go figure.

    And as much as I like the Horizon series and look forward to the final game in the trilogy. I also would love a follow up to Shadowfall.

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    bigsocrates

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    @lab392: The issue is not the heaviness, which I think is fine, it's...everything else. Apparently there is a widely known input delay issue that Guerilla tried to address (I have to see whether I toggled precision control on) but a lot of my issues with the game are about design decisions like the choice to make the guns very inaccurate and level design choices like poorly marked permanently respawning soldiers and the bad boss fight I described where you're dealing with a lot of issues at once that combine to make the fight a pain.

    @av_gamer: I want to play Shadowfall's single player at some point. I did play a bunch of the multiplayer when the PS4 launched and I thought it was decent for a launch game. The single player is divisive but I'm curious, and I didn't have any of the issues I have with Killzone 2 when playing the Shadowfall multiplayer (and the evolving game modes were fun.) Of course I didn't have any of the issues I have with Killzone 2 with Killzone 1 either.

    I think there's zero chance we're going to get a new Killzone at this point. At least from Guerilla. It just doesn't fit with Sony's new philosophy of "guaranteed huge hits only." At this point the franchise has been out of circulation for too long. We may eventually see a PS5 remastering of the old games, though at this point probably not because Sony doesn't seem interested in bringing its old PS3 games back. We haven't even seen an inFamous collection, which seems like a no brainer.

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