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Killzone 2 review

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Summary

Our Score:

9

Platform: PlayStation 3

Let's be clear right from the start: I have never been all that excited about Killzone 2. I remember all too well the 'Halo killer' hype that surrounded the PS2 original, not to mention the disappointment that followed on release. The whole fiasco about pre-rendered footage at E3 2006 left a sour taste in my mouth, and subsequent reports on the game didn't fill me with much confidence either. Frankly, I might have expected Killzone 2 to be a pretty game - to be an accomplished demonstration of the PS3's prowess - but did I expect it to be a great game. Nope.

So when I tell you that Killzone 2 is extraordinary, it's not wishful thinking, fanboy enthusiasm or a case of getting blinded by the visuals, it's simply my honest opinion of the game. Would I - like some others - go so far as to say that this is the best console shooter ever? No. But it would certainly figure high in my top five.

With all the garlands and rose petals being hurled at Killzone 2, it's important to stress that it's not a landmark title in gameplay terms in the way that, say, Halo, Far Cry or Half-Life 2 were before it. Killzone 2 is not particularly innovative; the overall feel is of a slick synthesis of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Halo 3 and Gears of War, with the Infinity Ward classic making up the main part of the ingredients. The majority of the levels are fairly linear and the action is heavily orchestrated. Where Gears of War and its sequel stole ideas from other genres - notably survival horror and the Resident Evil series - Killzone 2 plays straight to the standard-issue FPS template. The storyline is classic 'men on a mission' stuff, without the dense sci-fi backstory of the Halo games or the melodrama of Gears of War 2. I'm not sure I can think of anything that Killzone 2 does that you won't have seen before, and a lot of it will be very familiar indeed.

But the key thing to understand is that you won't have seen it done so solidly and so expertly outside of a handful of titles, including those mentioned above. What Killzone 2 brings to the party is believability, coherence and consistency. Everything, from the incredible visuals to the taut pacing to the generally superb AI, is in place to create one of the most visceral and convincing all-action experiences you've ever had on any games platform. When the game is running at full power it's almost impossible to tear your eyes from the screen.

It's a fearsomely bombastic game, kicking off with a massive-scale assault on enemy soil, as the forces of the Interplanetary Space Alliance invade the planet of the militaristic, neo-fascist Helghast in the aftermath of Killzone 1. Even in the first game, the Helghast has the potential to be an iconic adversary, with their totalitarian imagery and trademark, glowing orange goggles. Here that potential is realised, the game not stinting to put dozens of them on screen at a time, taunting and boasting in a range of slightly thuggish English accents that make them seem half anime villain, half sci-fi Millwall supporter.

smc8788

February 8, 2009, 6:00 am

Thought you might have a review of this up soon, and a good one it was as well. From what I have played of it (the demo and about 30 hours of the beta) I would say it deserves around a 9. Sure it doesn't reinvent the FPS genre, but then it's hard to reinvent something that's been around for so long and hasn't seen any real innovation for a long time, after all, Crysis or CoD4 didn't reinvent the genre, they were just incredibly well executed, and so is this game (as it should be after being in development for so long). Perfection is obviously subjective, but for me it doesn't quite deserve a perfect 10.





As for the multiplayer, only time will tell but if they fixed the issues that were present in the beta (which they apparently have) then I certainly think it will have the potential longevity of CoD4, which I still play to this day (a rare feat for me as I seldom find myself playing games more than a few months after their release).

Ahlan

February 8, 2009, 6:05 am

While there's nothing really new about Killzone 2???





what do you people expect from a FPS game?





oh and what about cover system? anyways





i played the demo, the enemy AI is magnificent, very smart, they help each other, for example, one says covering fire and reloads and the other covers him and shoots at you, oh and they react to grenade when they see you throwing it, not like any previews shooters they react to it when its on the ground.





visuals are stunning, filters, effects, motion blur, the most realistic FPS on the market.





some people complain about the controls, but you can go to the options and change the controls, for me the best is Alternate 2.





BTW, after playing killzone 2 demo over 10 times, i installed cod 4 again on my PC, and let me tell i felt like i was playing a previews gen game, i mean Kz2 looks 10x time more realistic then COD4. killzone 2 its a real next gen First person shooter game.





when you play Kz2, every "FPS game" will feel average.





Must buy.









adoniteINK

February 8, 2009, 6:15 am

Excellent review. i got around playing the demo this weekend and WOW! the game looks really beautiful regardless of the stage at which the demo build was made. Although, i felt some of the facial character models where slightly subpar especially when you compare it with the level of detail in the atmosphere and environments.





The problem I have with this game is that unlike Halo which has masterchief or gears of war which focuses on Marcus Fenix were the entire story revolves around them, I dont think killzone has that type of character. A sole catalyst so to speak. It is more about the beauty & epicness of war were the characters seem more like victims due to the large scale of it all..I might be wrong about this because i havent played the previous killzone titles but from what i have read and how sony has portrayed it, makes me come to the conclusion that it is more of a call of duty which is definitely not a bad thing, it just that there is no real hook as to what exactly is the drive of the story. I know its about an invasion that took place on earth and then earth decided to repay the visit but It is a bit too open-ended. Maybe its story has a bit more flesh to it, well i guess the only way to find out is when the game comes out 2 WEEKS FROM NOW!



Guest

February 8, 2009, 4:02 pm

I think GoW did reinvent FPS (ok, that is a bit third person as well, but you know what I mean). The first time I played it I was blown away. So reinvention is possible - but hard.





As for KZ2, well I have played the demo and agree that it looks excellent. Better than anything else? Hmmm, can't tell from the demo alone, but it is certainly up there.





As has already been mentioned, my only issue was the controls. I agree "Alternate 2" was the best (with "Zoom Hold" on as well), but even then the controls didn't feel quite right to me. All the other FPS's I have played recently just work from a control point of view (COD, Far Cry 2, GoW2, Battlefield Bad Company, etc) - but KZ2 kinda doesn't for me. Hopefully I will get used to it.





The rest of the demo was good fun, but nothing mind blowing. Without the visuals it would have been distinctively run of the mill. I hope the full game isn't as linear as the demo and suffer with too many obvious "hidden trip wire" game mechanics to move things forward.





Must buy? Probably yes. Looking forward to playing the full game.


Makes every other FPS game feel averaged? Absolutely not.





(Obviously my opinion is based just on the demo)

Wilfried

February 8, 2009, 4:24 pm

After playing Killzone 1 and learning to hate every aspect of the said game, my expectations for Killzone 2 were not flying really high. When the first footage of the game came out, I, like thousands other people, were blown away by the visuals and epic scale, only to be told later on that it wasn't gameplay footage, only CG. Like TR mentioned in their brillant review, it also left me with a "sour taste". Since then, I had no intentioned to look into buying or even trying Killzone 2.


Then came TR's review of the game, I can genuinely say that they got me excited about the game, I think that I will reconsider playing Killzone 2, maybe as a try before you buy basis. Can't wait for the game to come out now.

Impulsi0n

February 8, 2009, 7:37 pm

I havn't played the game yet, but ever since i first saw the E3 trailor in 06 i've wanted to play the game, i will definitely purchase it.


One question though, would you say the graphics are better then crysis and do they actually look as good as the trailer seen at e3?

Ahlan

February 9, 2009, 2:30 am

@azza21





look for you self, check out this link i made, kz2 demo my ps3, Crysis on my PC at very high, Cod4 my PC.








http://img17.imageshack.us/img...

Guest

February 9, 2009, 3:06 am

@arra21 - Can't comment on Crysis as I don't bother with PC gaming anymore. As for the e3 06 trailer - lol, they are not even close! But, that is hardly surprising as that was 100% CGI! Keeping it in perspective though, they are very good, up there with the best of them.

Matthew Bunton

February 9, 2009, 3:39 am

@Ahlan





Not exactly good comparison pics as both PC shots are dull and don't really show each game in its best light.





As for KZ2 the demo was enjoyable but nothing remarkable I will be purchasing it though as i'm sure that I will enjoy the final game.

smc8788

February 9, 2009, 3:57 am

@ azza21 - No current game has yet matched Crysis as far as graphics go (or other PC games - Far Cry 2 looked far better on the PC), and I don't think the current generation of consoles even have the potential to with their hardware (which is already outdated). Crysis was designed at the outset with full knowledge that it couldn't be played at it's highest settings at the time and would have to wait for the hardware to catch up to show it's full potential. That is why it is still the best looking game around, and current hardware still struggles to keep up, although partly because the game engine is not very well optimised.





@ Steve32. What do you mean not even close? Which do you think is better? I would say the actual gameplay looks every bit as good, if not better than the E3 trailer. Obviously they are different texture wise as such a long time has passed and facial animations aren't as good as the trailer, but I was certainly not disappointed by the graphics after playing the game. Besides, I wasn't exactly surprised when they said it was CGI footage - it's actually what I thought I was looking at when I first saw the trailer so I don't know why such a big fuss was made over it, especially when they've come up with a game that looks as good as it does.





I agree with you about the controls, they were much more floaty than I was used to from other games to start with. But trust me, from playing quite a few hours in the beta, you just have to stick at it and they will begin to feel more natural. It does take a while though as there isn't really another game that handles like it. I would also suggest trying to get used to one of the regular controller layouts, as that is how they intended the player to use them - they just added the Alternate 2 setting to appease CoD fans I believe (and with good reason, I suppose, as they were excellent controls). I can also see why they made them feel like that though, as once you get a feel for the controls they do feel more realistic than a lot of other games in the way the movements work (like how there is a slight pause before you jump to allow the character to bend their knees).





And as for the GoW comment, although I love the game and was also blown away by it, that does not mean it reinvented the genre. I think you are using the term too loosely there to mean any game which does what has been done before, only better, which is what GoW did. It didn't exactly bring anything new to the table which we haven't seen before. But that can be said for a lot of games really, and despite a number of excellent titles the FPS genre has been stagnating in recent years from a lack of innovation in my opinion.

Ahlan

February 9, 2009, 5:02 am

@Matthew Bunton, whatever you say man, Crysis i have it on my PC and i have it set at very high, Crysis has the best Texture ever made. but guns in crysis feel kind of plastic, very perfect not that real and crysis doesnt actually have an atmosphere, and post-rendering effects.








and for the few of you that said its nothing remarkable. well i don't know if you are a gamer or how many FPS game you played, take a real good look at kz2 again this game brings more real animation, and better physics for the gameplay, better mechanics, better lighting, its an evolution for first person shooter games.

Guest

February 9, 2009, 6:11 am

@smc8788 Which do you think is better? - that's a joke right? lol. We can only dream of the day that games can have as much going on as in that trailer! As for all the fuss - well there would have been none had Sony not lied and made out it was actual footage generated by the games engine! It was the lie that caused the fuss - not the trailer itself.





Controls: I am sure I will get used to them - but when so many other games manage to make controls feel just right, straight out of the box, it was mildly disappointing. (btw, I am more from the Battlefield crowd than CoD ;-) )





GoW - fair enough, "reinvent" was a bit OTT, but it certainly did reinvigorate the genre. From the demo, KZ2 feels like many others - just one that looks dam good!

Jones

February 9, 2009, 4:01 pm

Im not trying to stir up the fan boys into a frenzy, but unless KZ2 is significantly better than the likes of Resistance 2 (which was very average) I know I will be left fairly disappointed and with yet another sense of seen it all before.





Trust me, Ive been playing FPSs since they first emerged and the genre is largely stale. Other than superior graphics, each generation of FPS plays almost identical to the last and I havent played anything since Quake 2, COD 1 or Goldeneye that has left me thinking "wow" other than Gears of War 2 - which isnt a true FPS anyway!





I will be buying KZ2, I am in truth looking forward to trying it out, but I know that it will be more of the same - things Ive seen and done in a thousand other games. Hopefully it will be good I just dont really think it will leave me with multiple orgasms like it already appears to be doing so with some.

Wilfried

February 9, 2009, 5:38 pm

Wasn't going to say anything but I just can't resist now. How can Killzone 2 and Crysis be compared graphically or in terms of physics? I have now played Killzone 2, and I must add it is a fantastic FPS, but I must put my foot down and openly say that I personally didn't think that it remotely was better than Crysis either in terms or graphics or physics. I would strongly suggest to some people up here to get their eyes checked.

simon jackson

February 9, 2009, 7:27 pm

@Wilfried: I think one key point is always missed in the oft-made comparison of console and pc gaming, and that's this: on the day of it's release, for the vast majority of the people playing it, crysis both looked and ran far worse than something like GoW on a console like the 360. I should say, before i'm pillaried on the altar of crysis fan-boy-ism, that i'm a long-standing computer nerd, and i've been building and overclocking them for years. In other words: I'm not anti-pc. But, what current gen pc visuals are CAPABLE of, is not what they achieve in practice for the majority of pc owners. As time passes and the cutting edge of pc hardware advances, the graphical equivalent of ps3 or 360 visuals on a pc gets progressively cheaper. However, if you examine the graphical performance of current gen consoles, consider that they've been doing it for a few years, and that they probably still outperform the "average" computer, you'll see that they do represent tremendous value for money (at least for the gamers amongst us). I guarantee killzone 2 will look a lot better than crysis on my own soon-to-be-replaced computer, and on the majority of my "casual gamer" friends' machines too.





On topic: I don't suppose they've included KB and mouse support have they? It's a constant source of frustration to me that hardly any ps3 shooters do.

Energizer Bunny

February 9, 2009, 10:33 pm

I've played both, and whilst Killzone 2 is very pretty (in fact its the animation that impressed me most) it isnt Crisis, or even that close to it. That's no huge criticism. I remember when Crisis came out John Carmack saying he thought it would be the best looking game in the world for the next 5 years. Looks like he might be right.





You have to disregard whether or not people's PCs were up to the job. On max settings, it was and remains breathtaking.





Loved the KZ2 demo, though it was over quite quickly and I found the cover mechanic less than intuitive.

simon jackson

February 9, 2009, 10:50 pm

@Energizer Bunny: That's probably true - who am i to question the mighty carmack when all said and done? ;) Having said that, i couldn't disagree more with your penultimate paragraph. For the vast majority, crysis was probably not experienced on the maximum settings. Thus, in practice, for many gamers crysis is NOT a better looking game than kz2 (or rather, wasn't better looking than it's console counterparts at the time of it's release - technology has advanced since then i guess) or indeed the best looking game they've ever played. It's pretty meaningless to say to these people "well, crysis would be the best looking game you've ever seen if your pc cost around 4 times more than you actually paid for it" because it didn't and therefore, it isn't. I'm afraid i'm a pragmatist, and a real world comparison makes more sense to me. The graphical quality of crysis is not judged by whatever it can do on the most powerful computer on the highest settings, it's judged by the individual on the basis of what it can do on THEIR computer compared with what their ps3 can do sitting under their telly.

Wilfried

February 9, 2009, 11:52 pm

@Simon Jackson: Our PC is top specs and we're running Crysis on top settings, since you seem to own and have played Crysis too, you cannot tell me that Killzone 2 is a better looking game. It sure is nice and a lot of attention has been paid to details but I stand by my gun when I said that BOTH the graphics and physics of Killzone 2 do not surpass those of Crysis.


PS: I'm not a Crysis fanboy, I rarely play PC games.

simon jackson

February 10, 2009, 1:07 am

@Wilfried: My answer to: "but I stand by my gun when I said that BOTH the graphics and physics of Killzone 2 do not surpass those of Crysis" is really just this: "it depends." In my opinion, it is illogical to judge the graphical quality of a PC game as if it's only ever played maxed out. Sure, that's how it CAN look, but not how it looks - for example - on MY computer. Ultimately, that's really the only comparison i'm interested in. I mean, think about it this way - why would i judge crysis by how it looks and plays on your machine, when i have to play it on mine?





A PC game does not have an absolute graphical or gameplay standard, it has an (almost infinte) range of them, depending on the hardware it's running on and the settings used. It just doesn't make sense to divorce the judgement of its graphical quality from these factors. Every gamer who has the means to try both, is going to compare their own experience of crysis with their own experience of kz2. One of those experiences is standardised, one is not. How the game could look on a pc far more powerful than their own, is irrelevent to the vast majority of gamers.





I'm more than happy to accept that on your computer, crysis looks measurably better than KZ2. All i'm really saying is, that doesn't mean it's always a better looking game. It just means it has the potential to be on the right hardware. Oh, and i apologise if i caused offence with that "fay boy" comment - it wasn't directed at you! Just at the hypothetical legion of crysis fan-boys that i imagine are hiding out there somewhere ;)

Ahlan

February 10, 2009, 1:23 am

This is what makes Killzone 2 inferior to other FPS game (Graphically Speaking)








- real 3D particles, such as sparks from explosions that bounce around in the 3D game space.





- dust and sand particles picked up by the wind.





- fire and explosions affected by the wind.





- lens flare





- internal lens reflection





- up to 350 light sources per level, most games have between 4 - 10(example: Crysis)





- Brilliant AA, the best on consoles.





- Ray-casting bullet holes





- true colour and depth effects.






Wilfried

February 10, 2009, 4:01 am

@ Simon Jackson: You caused no offence, I only wanted to make clear that I am not one of them people playing, eating, sleeping, breathing Crysis. We bought it when it came out and took the opportunity to build ourselves a new PC from the ground up.


I see what you are saying but I do believe that it is logical to judge a game at its max out specs, as, in my opinion, it is the way these games are meant to be played.


Anyway, back on Killzone 2: If you like FPS and own a PS3, you'd be foolish not to own this game, a true masterpiece.

Jones

February 10, 2009, 6:33 pm

Since when was graphics the be all and end all of a game in any case?! Fan boys are almost as bad as Old Firm fans in their nonsense bickering.

simon jackson

February 10, 2009, 7:20 pm

@Wilfried: I'm definately looking forward to picking up a copy when it's released :) Hate having to wait though! Why can't the retail release date be the same as the date review copies are sent out?! I guess i'm just impatient. Also looking forward to playing crysis on a pc which can do it justice, at long last!

Wilfried

February 10, 2009, 8:39 pm

@ Simon Jackson: Ditto, I wish I could play the whole thing now!

virgopunk

February 10, 2009, 9:02 pm

Ok, I appreciate that a great many gamers need to have these quantum leaps in graphics for every new iteration (how else can they justify buying the latest NVidias etc!?) but I'm a sucker for gameplay and by that I mean good storytelling combined with excellent second-nature controls with a nicely balanced learning curve that let me flow through the gaming experience and come out the other end feeling as though I've actually been somewhere. My favourite games are ones that I think about later as real places I've visited. The original Half-Life (and it's sequels) was just such a game, as was Halo, but I equally enjoyed Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Deus Ex, Rogue Trooper and Mace Griffin. Most recently Bioshock really ticked my boxes, despite it's forgivable (IMHO) flaws. Oddly enough I think sense of gravity is also really important, the feeling that a move of the pad is instantly translated to movement on screen. Another thing is not too much chaos on screen. I really dislike not being able to enjoy the environment because I'm too busy being pushed through a level by a stupid amount of danger (or even worse, a ticking clock).


I've got the demo of Kz2 to play this evening and I'm really looking forward to it. FPS are unique in the world of gaming (with the possible exception of racing sims - imho)in their ability to do what we really want games to do and allow us to escape the real world for while. Whilst Guitar Hero and Rockband may be great fun they are, in the final analysis, nothing more that snazzy versions of Tetris. FPSs are where the lines between cinema and gaming are being blurred.


If the Kz2 demo rocks my socks then I'll be definitely handing over my shekels.

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