Thursday, August 12, 2010

Killzone 2: Take a Ride Into the Killzone

It’s been billed as one the greatest shooters of its time. The PS3’s answer to Halo. Maybe even better. And since it recently attained Greatest Hits status, now seems like as good a time as any to review this bad boy. Does it live up to the hype? If you’re a fan of explosive, high octane shooters then buckle your seatbelt and take a ride into the Killzone.

In the first Killzone, your home planet was invaded by the Helgast, a race of red eyed robotic soldiers. In the sequel, you invade their home planet to capture their mad dictator Scolar Visari. The story is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s enough to motivate you to play through to the end. The characters truly shine, however. You play as Sev, a soldier in the ISA. He’s built as more of a silent protagonist type; he does speak, but it feels like his greater purpose is to serve as the player’s eyes and ears to the action.

Rico is a bullheaded commando with a short fuse. He’s sometimes prone to act without thinking. Imagine Barrett if he was in a kick ass shooting game. General Radec, the leader of the Helgan army, is a real piece of work. Killzone’s villans are nefarious and cold, calculating dictators but at the same time are very charismatic and have a magnetic personality. When Scolar Visari boasts that “Generations yet unborn” will feel the wrath he’s about to bestow, you know you’re not dealing with any cookie cutter madman.

As solid as the cast of characters is, the sense of immersion Killzone 2 delivers is even more dynamic. Imagine you’re entrenched behind a few metal blockades with a handful of friendly troops trying to push through against wave after never ending wave of Helgast. Virulent explosions rock the battlefield, while the deafening buzz of gunfire cuts through your speakers. It does a fantastic job of making you feel like you’re actually in a warzone.

The technical aspects of the gameplay are presented similarly to many other FPSes. The controls are a little bit slow compared to some other shooters, and that many be an issue for some players. They don’t feel very crisp or quick, but it’s a minor complaint overall. The guns are pretty standard for the most part, but later in the game there’s an electricity gun that allows you to blast high voltage electrical surges at your enemies. I had quite a bit of fun with that gun.

Graphically, Killzone 2 excels as well. Whether you’re trying to push through the downtrodden streets of Visari Square, defending a desolate desert outpost, or infiltrating the pristine halls of Visari Manor itself, everything looks crisp clear and clean. Upon observing the grandeur of Visari Palace for the first time, Garza remarks, “Look at this place! The rest of the city is a shithole.” “Figures,” the other guy replies. “The only thing the Higs care about is training troops.” This pretty much sums up most the environments you’ll be fighting through. They’re dark, dingy and dirty. But they look fantastic.

The online experience also delivers. Aside from your standard deathmatch, there are seek and destroy missions, missions where you protect an objective from an enemy team, king of the hill type missions, and assassination missions where you gun down a specific member of the enemy party. There are also your standard bevy of unlockable ribbons, rewards, and ranks that open up new abilities.

There is certainly the potential for creating intense edge of your seat type matches. The community is still alive, but I had some difficulty finding games with people around my rank, and it’s hard to find games for some game modes. But you can usually hop into a game that cycles through the different game types.

In any type of online FPS replay value is obviously going to be near infinite; earning all those badges, accumulating ranks and gaming with your clan can provide countless hours of gameplay. But the single player experience can also keep you playing for quite a while as well; each level has its own collectibles and Helgan artifacts for you to destroy.

If you want to try beating the game on elite difficulty, good luck. It’s said to be one the hardest FPS campaigns in recent memory. I myself wasn't gutsy enough to try it; so I wouldn’t doubt elite is a kill zone for all but the most hardcore FPS aficionados. All in all, Killzone 2 is a destined to be a classic and compares favorably with any FPS this generation has to offer.

Score: 8.5/10

No comments: