Killzone 2: Official Review
by Gauss


Basic Information:
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
North American Release Date: 2/27/2009
European Release Date: 2/25/2009
Trophies: Yes


Overview
Lets get this out of the way before anyone has a heart-attack. Killzone 2 is a realistic/tactical shooter. I am going to warn you right now before we continue, Killzone 2 does not try to be anything else, nor does it add anything that will convince a hater of this genre. I acknowledge this, but ultimately feel its inconsequential to the experience of Killzone 2.

Killzone 2 is a sequel to Killzone 1 that takes place several years after the events of Killzone 1. The Helghast have been forced off Vekta and now the ISA is invading Helghan to capture Emperor Visari. Unfortunately for the ISA, the Helghast were prepared and what was originally thought to be a in-and-out operation becomes a drawn out and painful conflict for both sides.

Gameplay
Killzone 2 is unabashedly a modern shooter, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. This game takes many elements already established in the genre and improves them. Things like how this game really makes the guns feel powerful, much more so than your Call of Duties, all while keeping plenty of sci-fi twist in weapons like the Bolt-gun make gameplay much more riveting.

One of the big additions though is cover, which is surprisingly awesome. No more will you be ducking behind a crate wondering if you are covered or not because the game will allow you to glue yourself to it, moreover it will allow you to pop out and toss grenades or shoot then quickly duck back in without fiddling with the controller and asking yourself again if you are covered correctly. Its not perfect, I would have loved to have seen a blind-fire option, but none-the-less it is a marked improvement over other modern shooters in this department.



My only major complaint is the decision to have only a main weapon and a fixed side-arm. While your pistol is quite powerful and has infinite ammo, with the setup chosen the game really feels like a 'one weapon game.' Whats more is they are removing your ability to arm yourself strategically, you can't carry both a specialized and general purpose weapon unless you are willing to use your pistol, which is a bad idea. The pistol is a good emergency weapon, but not reliable in a stand-up fight. It actually forces you to spend most of the game with just the assault rifle until you become familiar with the levels. You can't afford to pick up that Sniper Rifle if the next section of the level is a close-quarters fight or if you have to destroy a gun emplacement.

Ultimately though the gameplay is tight and well-designed, providing an overall great experience for a FPS fan.

Singleplayer
Killzone 2's story is a great action story, you won't be challenged with any deep philosophical ideas or alternative views on reality and life, but the story does a great job of driving the action and keeping the adrenaline going. There are a fair share of twists and some moral ambiguity, but at the end of the day there is a very clear bad-guy and very clear good-guy and you move from fire-fight to fire-fight in an effort to thwart the bad-guys' plans and the only twists and turns are involved in what exactly those plans are and just how prepared the Helghast were for this invasion.

Some of the high points of the story are the vehicle sections, which are absolutely awesome. Particularly the level before last where you find yourself in a Mech fighting waves of tanks as you try and fight your way back into the city.

The characters here are a mixed barrel. While Rico curses to the point of irritating and Natko needs to have his voice-box torn out with someone's bare hands, Sev, Garza, Radec, and Visari are all very well done in this story. I will say this now too but Brian Cox and Sean Pertwee are two of the most under-rated voice actors in gaming, and in this game they really shine, capturing their characters perfectly.

Multiplayer
The Multiplayer for this game is fantastic. While I am not going to put it up against the likes of some PC-exclusive MP experiences like TF2 and CS, I will say this is the best FPS MP on a console currently.


It employs a class-based system where you pick a class at the start and this dictates multiple things such as health, weapon load-out, and abilities. Where this game separates itself is the abilities part. Each class has a primary and secondary ability, which can be mixed and matched to create customized classes. This is where the Multiplayer really opens up and truly allows you to play to your style, while still keeping the balance that these classes bring.

The second element that separates this game from others is the manner in which matches are done, there is no pre-defined game modes. Rather each map cycles through all the game modes in a single match, although the game-creators are capable of disabling certain ones. This keeps various matches from dragging on for too long while at the same time injecting a hefty helping of variety into each match.

Within these individual modes are traditional team death-match called Body Count, a play on capture-the-flag, called Search and Retrieve, where an item appears on the map and you must bring it to another point on the map. Search and Destory where one team is given two tactical targets to destroy, while the other team must protect them. Capture and Hold, which is a play on King of the Hill, there are three points on the map and for each one held by your team you get a certain number of points a second. Finally there is Assassination, where a target is picked and your team must either protect that target or assassinate that target.

Each of these are cycled through each match, and it really does wonders from keeping the individual matches from getting boring. Every few minutes your objective on the map changes. This really keeps the MP fresh for much longer.

Technical
There really isn't anything to complain about here. Of course there are always little things to nitpick about, such as some of the use of pre-rendered backgrounds. These are all small complaints that are levied in an attempt to ignore how amazing the detail is in this game.

Make no mistake, this is one area where Guerrilla did a job better than 99% of the industry, and as a result should be praised for it. This game still, over a year and a half later, is easily one of the best, if not the best, looking games on the market. The way they cast textures and built the environment make phenomenal use of the PS3's power. There are no framerate drops, even when the action is its peak.


This game is absolutely beautiful and immersive, everything was thought of and as you play through you really get the sense that people live here and how ultra-industrialized and utilitarian this culture is. Particularly now that the game is only 30 USD, just how well this game is done technically warrants a play through.

Trophies
The trophies for Killzone 2 are your usual mix for a shooter. I will say this though, the one shining area this list has is its multiplayer trophies. I don't know why more developers haven't cued off of this, but there is no real grind-box trophies in Killzone 2. The primary MP-gold trophy for getting Honor Rank #4 will easily net you most of the others and only take a week, and getting the medals just requires using the skills your class provides you. Be warned though, Elite difficulty is no joke.


Gameplay: 8.5/10
- Brings its fair share of new ideas to the table, and adds some improvements on other staples of the genre. Unfortunately the 'One-gun' design choice is an issue.

Singleplayer: 9/10
- A pretty simple story, but its built around the gameplay very well and does a great job of driving the experience. Its what you would want out of a comparable action movie.

Multiplayer: 9.5/10
- Top-to-bottom I still, to this day, think this game has the best MP for a console shooter. It has a great class-based system with plenty of room for customization.

Technical: 10/10
- Still one of the most immersive environments in all FPS-dom and to this day holds the crown for graphics.

Overall: 9.25/10
Overall this is a very difficult game to review. The reason being this game was really designed to be a "shooter's shooter," for lack of a better phrase. Ultimately I am siding with what Killzone 2 is meant to be, a phenomenal shooter, as opposed to try to fit it into another box. All the innovation and attempted innovation here is catering toward FPS fans. This results in an almost flawless shooter, but this is not going to change naysayers' minds about the FPS genre like say a Fallout 3 would.