01 Apr

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Singleplayer Review

Before playing Killzone 2, I did my best to avoid all reviews, previews and screenshots in hopes of not ruining the experience when I came around to play and review it. With all the hype surrounding the game, it was no easy task. I can happily say K2 deserves the attention it gets. K2 is a fantastic first person shooter that exceeded my expectations on a number of levels. It has its flaws like any video game but the overall positive gaming experience far outweighs its foibles.

Killzone 2 is beautiful. Actually, K2 is beyond beautiful. It’s a game that I thought I’d be seeing out on the Xbox 720 or Playstation 4. If another game comes out on either the 360 or the PS3 with better visuals, I will be beyond impressed. Currently, there are few games on the market that can compete with its visuals, even on the PC. Crysis and Crysis: Warhead are the only two titles that come to mind that look as sweet. The game has a few semi-obvious low-resolution textures, but you’ll only see them if you’re looking for them, like I do. The game is very dark, so if you have an older television set with a dieing color tube, you might have to jack up your brightness and contrast up manually to compensate. The game offers an in-game gamma correction, but even on my 6-month old Samsung flats screen television, it wasn’t bright enough until I manually increased the contrast and brightness by about 15%.

K2‘s story is a little lacking, but it serves its purpose. Basically, you’re the good guys. The weirdos with the red eyeball helmets are the bad guys. Here’s a gun. Go get ‘em soldier. There are hints of a back story, but back story isn’t necessary because you play the role of an enlisted Marine. Your role is to do what you’re told and not get caught up in the details of politics and war-making decisions anyway. Toward the end of the game, your character does go rogue and makes a few decisions for himself, but otherwise, you do what Colonel Templar, your commanding officer, tells you to do.

Story aside, the gameplay experience that K2 presents is astounding. You’ll feel like you’re part of a war. The last time I felt this engrossed in combat in a video game, I was playing Call of Duty 2. If there is one major complaint I have about the game it is that the controls are horrendous for the most part. Reloading, firing, jumping etc, all seemed to be mapped to reasonable buttons, but the response time set by the game isn’t fast enough to respond properly to the ever-expanding threat that grows around you. Even with the controls on maximum sensitivity, you’ll die a thousand cheap deaths simply because you couldn’t turn your head fast enough to see who was shooting at you. Even on the normal difficulty setting, your firearm isn’t very effective against your enemies giving you an even bigger handicap. Pistols, SMGs, LMGs, and assault rifles all feel roughly the same. They all delivery poor damage to your enemy and they’re all highly inaccurate, even when crouching and looking down your sights. Some enemies will require almost a complete clip of ammunition dumped into them before they fall. In the future, apparently our weapon technology took a few steps back. At first this can be annoying, but you learn to compensate and ignore it by about half way through the game.

The sound design is another strong point in K2, so I recommend playing the game through a surround sound system. There are several points in the game where sound is imperative too, because some of your enemies will move so fast, the only way to know their exact position will be by sound alone. The voice acting is believable for Marines, but even for military personnel in wartime, they seemed to swear more than a natural amount and I’m certain there is a LOT of swearing in wartime. The game drop the F bomb more than real bombs and it can jar you from the believability of the situation very quickly.

For brand new game, K2 is on the short side. It took me only 7 hours to complete. The game does have much more to offer with its multiplayer options, but I generally don’t buy single-player-centric first person shooters for their multiplayer capabilities. There are 4 levels of difficulty, so depending on how much you love first person shooters you will probably find a good amount of replay value here.

Killzone 2 is a great entry game to the Playstation 3’s already fantastic library. If you aren’t a hardcore gamer, the autosave points are frequent enough so you can pick up the game and put it back down in a matter of moments and still feel like you’ve accomplished something. Certainly, it’s not something you want your kids to play. Nor is it a game that you’d want to share with your spouse, but it is a fantastic “Saturday Matinee” kind of game. If you are a first person shooter junkie, don’t delay on purchasing K2. If you’re more of a casual shooter fan, K2 is a great rental game. When you’re done, you’ll want more.

Multiplayer Review

By Mats Paasche

Although we already have a review for Killzone 2 up, our gloriously handsome leader Randy didn’t include the multiplayer portions of the game into his considerations. And so this review is a companion piece to his original review.

Some might argue that the multiplayer is the real focus of the game, and the true reason to buy the game. I don’t entirely agree with this, but it is a very substantial and excellent part of the package. The multiplayer is very different from the single-player portion of the game, and is substantial enough that it could easily stand on its own as a multiplayer only game like most of the Battlefield series.

You’ll find the same level of graphic and sound polish as found in the  single-player version. Unless you’re intentionally looking for errors, the game looks just as good. That being said the frame rate can drop a bit during hectic cluster battles where there are 20 grenades all going off at the same time, but given how good the game looks that’s easily forgivable.

Control wise it plays almost just like the single-player game. S ome say there are slight differences in the sensitivity of the aiming; but if there are, then they’re too minor for me to notice.  Even though the controls are very similar, the cover mechanic found in the single-player version of the game isn’t transferred into the multiplayer game. This is where the real big difference is made. Without the cover mechanic you are forced to improve your aiming and tactics. This changes the whole dynamic of the battles and the game becomes reminiscent of Call of Duty 4. At first it’s chaos, but as you rank up with the other players it becomes much more organized and fun.

Much like Team Fortress 2 the multiplayer game is built around classes, and these classes are obviously homage to the TF2 classes. You start off with the Rifleman class which at first can only use one of the two assault rifles of the game as well as a handgun and single grenade. As you progress you’ll earn badges through playing the game in a variety of ways. Once you have earned enough of a single badge type, you’ll be rewarded with a secondary class ability or an increased amount of ammo and grenades you spawn with. It’s always useful and welcome. Rather than go into the details of each class, I’ll just say that they’re all fun to play and have their own little semi-original quirks and abilities.

You’ll also rank up during the game. The rate of which you are promoted is calculated by how much you contribute in each match; whether it’s through kills, team play or completing objectives. This is where my first big complaint comes in. Since you only unlock new classes and weapons through ranking up the game can seem a bit shallow at first. Unless you’re constantly one of the top 3 players of the match this can take quite a while. For the average gamer, it might take 5 hours or more. It was clearly a conscious design decision made by Guerrilla, and it’s one that I’m not sure will pay off in the end. It forces players to learn the game properly, but it also scares many of them away.

The matches themselves are almost all made up of great maps with multiple levels and interesting possibilities, though some are a little generic. The different match modes are where the game really shines. They’re standard-fare capture the flag and death match modes, but the game seamlessly alternates between them during each match, creating and interesting dynamic and always keeping you on your toes. After each mode is ended—either by a team win or time limit expiration—the players are left aimless for roughly 30 seconds, free to tactically reposition themselves for the next match or go on killing sprees. The game then randomly picks one of the modes and the next objective starts.

Killzone 2 is one of the few games on PS3 with long term multiplayer legs. It has convinced me –someone who doesn’t normally play multiplayer games on consoles— to stay active in the Killzone 2 community and keep playing. Because of the PS3’s lack-of-microphone dilemma, I’d advise getting a group of friends together in a clan and play with them since they’ll mostly have gone and bought microphones for themselves. But the game is still immensely fun even if none of your teammates have microphones. I’ll echo Randy’s earlier sentiments and say BUY THIS GAME!

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Killzone 2

Platform: Playstation 3
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Developer: Guerrilla
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: Februrary 27, 2009

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