Killzone, as a series, began back on what now seems the dim and distant past, on the dim and distant Playstation 2. Its combination of frenetic first-person action and otherworldly setting fused to create a unique and thrilling gaming experience. This was continued on the Playstation consoles little brother the PSP, with Killzone: Liberation, which although changing some of the intrinsic game mechanics of the original Killzone still garnered very high reviews.
The original Killzone however did have its problems, with a dodgy framerate, jumpy controls and a number of glitches detracting from what was still a very good game. So, as you can imagine, the anticipation for the new Killzone game was fervent, with gamers wondering if it could take the good things from the previous titles and bolt them on to a new, fresher gaming experience, without the problems of before encroaching at all. The pressure must have been on, as pre-order figures topping a million would attest to.
However, it would appear that the Sony-backed Guerilla developers from Amsterdam have pulled it off. Killzone 2 has refined and accentuated all the fine points that the science fiction first person shooter always had and improved on it dramatically.
In the game you play not Templar, the hero of the first two Killzone games, but the battle-hardened ISA special forces veteran Tomas “Sev” Sevchenko, who is part of a team sent to the planet of Helghan. This team will often be of assistance to you in the game, intelligently providing cover fire and picking off enemies that you may not have seen at first look.
The planet itself is a hellish place, dusty and with violent thunderstorms, and it is there you must battle the Helghast, whose leader Scolar Visari you are tasked with capturing. As the battle unfolds however, you realise the Helghast are a much sterner test than at first imagined, and that the planet itself is an enemy to be feared.
I suppose you could be forgiven for assuming it is the same old sci-fi schtick, but the story is actually quite engrossing,with underlying themes of fascism and the cost of war driving the plot and action on as you battle your way through with your team. The gameplay will be familar to anyone who has ever picked up a first-person shooter, and as someone who started a million years ago with Doom, I felt straight at home. It is adrenaline-packed and fast paced, with an intelligent and implacable enemy that makes for compelling gameplay. The missions are set up as a series of objective and checkpoints to reach, and take in ambushes, house to house fighting and, especially cool, vehicular combat. If you run around blasting however, you will not last long, and taking advantage of the cover option using L2 will lead to you surviving a lot longer.
The overall presentation of the game is of a superlative quality too, with the cut scenes leading in to the levels really setting up the danger and precarious situation you will soon find yourself in. In with this are the little added touches of realism, such as the destructible environment, which underscore the havoc you are wreaking, and things setting on fire and turning to ash. Though not ostentatiously noticeable, they are still fine touches that immerse you into the game further. The clever use of the SIXAXIS controller, for instance holding it steady when using a sniper rifle, is also a nice little effect, and much better than merely holding a button down like in other games.
Of course, these days a game must also come up with the goods in the multiplayer mode too. Skirmish is the offline edition, in which you essentially take on bots to practise. Warzone is the real meat though, with 8 maps and all the usual game modes, from team deathmatches to a mode that is much the same as a capture-the-flag type game. There are also the now standard and ubiquitous ranks, of which there are 12, from lowly private to general, gained through earning online points. These can be added to with specialist medals for thing like judicious use of grenades and kill streaks. All in all, it is great fun and a rewarding online experience.
So, in short, this game is a nigh-on perfect first person shooter, giving the PS3 stern competition against the likes of Gears of War and Halo. Although one strange thing is it being all run from disc, meaning occasional small loading times as you pass through areas, all in all this game has been plenty worth the wait and plenty worth the anticipation it generated – truly excellent.