bshirk's Killzone 2 (PlayStation 3) review

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Do Realistic Firefights and Visuals Make For A Great Game?

If you're a fan of first-person shooters, there's a good chance that you have a Halo-playing Xbox 360 or a computer with a beefy one-thousand dollar graphics card. By the rare chance that you don't own either, it's likely that you spend your time gripping your Wii Zapper gangsta-style while playing Rayman Raving Rabbids, or you might even use those weird Playstation 3 analog sticks -- on games other than first-person shooters.

If you're one of those unusual first-person shooter fans who owns a PS3, then you know that it's your duty to make use of that oft-ignored right-analog stick. I mean come on, it hasn't received any love since Resistance 2.

Really though, your right analog stick's past use matters little, because Killzone 2 will work your thumbs harder than a bodybuilder's weight routine. Not only will Killzone 2 give you carpal tunnel syndrome twenty years down the line -- it'll also win over your precious eyes -- whether they're bloodshot or crystal clear.

Anyone who has paid attention to Killzone 2's development process is likely aware of the intense scrutiny the dark title's visuals were under. This was due to an impressive early trailer developed entirely with CG revealed a few years ago that was meant to demonstrate the PS3's strengths. As a result, first-person shooter fans had high expectations for this title's visuals. Despite all this pressure, Guerrilla somehow came through and delivered one of the most impressive looking titles of this console generation.

The amount of environmental detail in Killzone 2 is simply stunning. Its dark, gritty environments really do their part in making you feel like you're in a chaotic warzone. Even when considering shooting-game juggernauts like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Gears of War 2, Killzone 2 stands out in providing a realistic urban warfare experience.

It's not just the chain link fences, dilapidated buildings, and surges of lighting that make Killzone 2 visually appealing, however. Killzone 2's well-animated, gorgeously rendered character models also play an important role in the experience. The creepy Helghast and their glaring red eyes make for a frightening reincarnation of the Nazis. Okay, so technically they aren't Nazis, but they're the next closest thing to demons, which is what makes them scary adversaries.

Your own characters are not as visually distinct, but they look as if they could be real people. Their realistic appearance is partly a blessing, because it makes them more relatable to the player, but at the same time, it's a curse, because they're not as memorable as characters of many other video games. What you think of them will probably depend on your feelings towards bald space marines.

Okay, so now that we've gotten looks out of the way, how's the actual game? Killzone 2 is a solid shooting experience that will likely appeal to fans of games such as Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Gears of War 2. The controls and general feel of the game are quite similar to that of Modern Warfare. Your character can sprint, wield a knife, lob grenades, bash enemies with a rifle butt, and carry two weapons at a time. Oh, and he can crouch, which is important for anyone that wants to get their tea-bag on.

To anyone that has played Modern Warfare or Halo 3, that stuff is all standard, so what's different with Killzone 2? What's new in this FPS is the distinct feeling its moving and aiming provides. In Killzone 2, each of your character's animations are quite realistic -- from reloading a weapon to fixing your sights on an enemy, and the game's controls follow suit. Instead of being able to quickly aim and dispatch your foes with the benefit of auto-aim as in Halo 3, Killzone 2 makes you feel as if you're actually holding a gun.

As a result of this realistic feel, it's considerably more difficult to target enemies. With your gun wavering and movement having a greater affect on your accuracy, it takes awhile to get used to this set-up. Those who prefer realism in their war games will probably appreciate this control style, while fans of Halo will likely cry foul at this loss of precision.

Solid controls are essential for any first-person shooter, but the player's arsenal is equally important. Fortunately, Killzone 2 delivers an assortment of weapons that will please players of the Call of Duty games. Many of the game's guns feel like standard modern military fare (i.e. the assault rifles and pistols), but it's the later weapons that are special. It's not like weapons such as flamethrowers and electricity guns haven't been used before, but here, these weapons are not only useful -- they actually look impressive. It feels great slowly roasting an opponent while watching flames envelope the floor. Likewise, it's fun frying your opponent with a well-aimed, charged blast of lightening.

None of the above weapons are the best part of Killzone 2's weaponry, however. The most enjoyable weapons to wield are the game's plentiful turrets and large armored vehicles. It feels great to mow down swarms of pesky Helghast soldiers with a rapid-fire machine gun, and it's even more fun stomping into enemy territory with a bipedal battle tank.

Killzone 2 provides players with a decent arsenal, but does the campaign mode deliver? It certainly gives off an impressive atmosphere with its intense firefights created through meticulously designed battlefields, magnificent enemy AI, and equally amazing sound, but unfortunately, the missions feel a bit mundane.

If you've played a first-person shooter before, you've pretty much done everything in Killzone 2. You've probably hidden behind cover, commandeered tanks, planted explosive charges, and fought teleporting bosses. The good news is that this doesn't matter much, because Killzone 2's superb sense of atmosphere and intense firefights will distract you from noticing its stereotypical first-person shooter gameplay.

It's unfortunate that Killzone 2's solid, but standard FPS gameplay isn't accompanied by an original story with better than middle school locker room dialogue, though. Most players probably won't care, but I found it hard to relate with a set of characters that seemed intent on taking down the "evil" Helghast without knowing more than the enemy was being led by a dictator. It was also nearly impossible to grow attached to the characters when they'd say phrases like, "F***, you mother******" nearly every other sentence. I understand that war is tough, and I've used words like these before myself, but when the characters utter these words randomly, it seems like shameless pandering to wannabe tough guys.

Despite all of this, the campaign is still fun, but how does the multiplayer fare? It's a great time for those who like Killzone 2's controls, chaotic matches for up to 32 players, and haven't gotten sick of multiplayer modes that are slight variations of those from long-running franchises like Halo.

Most of the modes are standard fare such as death match, keep away, territories, etc., but what's unique about Killzone 2 is that a mode such as Body Count (KZ2's slayer) can roll over into a brand new mode like Propaganda (KZ2's version of keep away). This feature is handy, as it allows you to play a variety of modes without having to enter a new lobby.

There really isn't too much else to say about Killzone 2's multiplayer modes. Fans of Modern Warfare will probably have a good time playing with their buddies, but players who prefer Halo might tire of Killzone 2's limited map and mode selection rather quickly.

Killzone 2 may feel like a grittier version of Call of Duty 4 at times, but I doubt that fans of that popular FPS will mind. PS3 owners who prefer the Halo series to Call of Duty may be disappointed with some of this title's design decisions, but their mourning will end once they realize that Killzone 2 is still a competent shooter. Killzone 2 may not be worth purchasing a PS3 for, but it's easily one of the system's best titles. If you own a Blu-ray playing grill and are looking for a tasty FPS, get down to the store and light this baby on fire!

Pros:

·          Finally a good FPS for the PS3 that isn't Resistance 1 or 2

·          Includes dark, gritty visuals that give the latest Batman flick a run for its money

·          The flame thrower and electricity gun provide for satisfying carnage

·          Who can argue with getting to stomp around in a walking battle mech?

·          Intense firefights brought to you by great enemy AI and sound effects

Cons:

·          Killzone 2's story is about as good as an 18 year-old figuring out two times two

·          The f***** dialogue is guaranteed to make you dumber

·          Killzone 2's characters are as bland as a bald space marine's head

.          The aiming is hard to get used to for those who've played too much Halo 

Other reviews for Killzone 2 (PlayStation 3)

    Dazzling technical display that should have been so much more 0

    Killzone 2 reviewed on PlayStation 3 It is generally considered that to criticise something for what it does not do is fallacious. After all, it deserves to be judged on its own merits in isolation from what it may or may not have been, and to do so could prove a disservice to its creators. Killzone 2 is ostensibly a shooting game and what it does, it does pretty well. The control scheme is adeptly tailored to the two stick set-up, its visuals are gloriously bombastic and the action itself is m...

    15 out of 18 found this review helpful.

    Guerrilla Delivers 0

    Killzone 2 probably has one of the most storied histories of any game in the past decade. In its now legendary E3 2005 premiere trailer it became the poster boy for the potential power of the Playstation 3. For the next four years speculation, and hype, or whether or not it could live up to this promise ran wild. Well, the game has finally arrived and I can honestly say that Killzone 2 has set the bar far above for any shooters to follow it on the PS3.You can't start any serious discussion witho...

    4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

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