After completing Killzone 2 last Saturday afternoon I had two thoughts. The first was "Wow,the game was damn near perfect" The second was "I really wish I could have played it with John". Killzone 2 raises the bar graphically for the industry or that the story was one of the best we've seen for a first person shooter in a while (OK, the bar's not that high) but the lack of co-op gameplay sticks out only because it's the one checkbox the game can't mark complete. I can't shake the feeling that the game would be just a smidge better if I could have played it with someone else. That's not a knock against the excellent AI in the game but rather just something I've come to expect from modern shooters.
Killzone 2 starts with the ISA invading Helghan to put an end to the war between the ISA and the Helghast. You play Sev who as a member of the ISA's elite Delta unit are tasked with capturing the Helghan commander Scolar Vissari. This is viewed as a way for the ISA to quickly turn the tide of the war. Unfortunately for the ISA the Helghan have more than a few cards up their sleeve. What I liked about the story of the game was that while the framework of the story was action movie generic the writers at Guerrilla took some time to flesh out the characters of the game and added enough twists and turns to keep the game interesting. I really dug that the writers took a few chances and didn't feel the need to tack on meaningless side stories to the plot.
As I mentioned in my first impressions I do wish Guerrilla had provided some more history on the fight between the ISA and the Helghast as this is my first game in the Killzone universe. Something to let me know why the two sides were fighting and why the Helghast troops have to wear re-breathers and wear eye gear that makes them easy to spot would go a long to helping new comers to the franchise.
The game does a fantastic job of managing the pacing of the game as you move from firefight to firefight. You'll take part in large scale battles across strategic points of Helghan as well as close room to room combat in some of the cities. The game also tosses in a few vehicle sections to break things up a bit. Unlike a lot of other games these feel organic to the plot of the game and don't feel t bolted on. I do wish there was an additional mission or two in the mech you get to pilot in the game though.
Of course all this banter about plot and pacing would be meaningless if the controls were crap but this is another area were Killzone 2 shines. They take a little bit of getting used to and the game never really walks you through the cover system but once you get the hang of them they work very well. This is a shame as the cover system in Killzone 2 is top notch. To take cover you click the L2 button and Sev latches on to the nearest cover or crouches (sometimes both if it’s low cover). To shoot over cover you push the right thumbstick up and he aims around the cover. Moving left or right while in cover strafes you left and right and releasing the thumbstick immediately drops you into relative safety. The cover in the game is a bit more natural than that of say Gears of War 2 as the Helghast haven't placed short walls along every road and path and there don't appear to be any indigenous cover worms roaming the area. There are a lot of bombed out cars, destroyed walls, and various other things that you can use for cover though.
I'd also give a tip of the hat to Guerilla for coming up with some interesting ways of using the SIXAXIS motion control. It's used vary sparingly in the game as you only use it to open a few doors and to arm some explosives. It does add a little bit to the game but more importantly it doesn't take anything away by forcing you to use it a lot. They also added some SIXAXIS motion control to the loading screens which resemble those 3D lenticular movie posters. Again it's a nice touch but not something that takes away from the game. It also helps mask the loading times which are maybe a little longer than they should (this might be due to the fact that we were running a pre-release copy of the game and not a final build)
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