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Killzone 2 Hands-On Preview
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:35am 13/08/08 | Comments
Sequel to the poorly received but ambitious Killzone for PlayStation 2, Killzone 2 sets out to do everything right on the PlayStation 3 delivering a fast-paced and action-packed first-person shooter experience with stunning visuals and an equally robust and strong multiplayer offering. But can it live upto its own hype? We go hands-on to find out...

If you played the first Killzone, you either loved it or hated it, which means you're either a PlayStation fanboy (or girl), or not.

I know that's a pretty cut and dry statement, but my time in the industry and my keen eye for watching over all areas of videogame feedback showed a very black and white picture for Killzone. I even bore witness - with my own eyes - to someone who, while playing and fighting every ounce of good gaming sensibility, convinced themselves the game was actually "alright". (He's now serving time... it's a long story).

Killzone was billed as the PlayStation 2's "Halo killer" in what was more likely an out-of-context comment from Sony that literally blew up; immediately slotting the game alongside Microsoft's killer FPS app as its direct rival. But the truth is there was no way it was every really going to win. Halo just had the momentum, the mainstream support and, to be more than fair, the solid gameplay.

It's no wonder after a fumble like that Killzone 2 somewhat fell off the map. Sure Sony made a reasonably big deal out of it at both 2006 and 2007's E3 expos, but at this year's Sony E3 press conference the game never even got a mention barring around 20 seconds of video airtime in a compilation reel.

This was most likely a decision based on the fact Killzone was actually playable on the show floor, and making a big deal out of something before the media at large had a chance to see for themselves could have had some pretty nasty results - it's looking like Sony are slowly learning their lesson.

The Story So Far*

Two years after the Helghast assault on Vekta, the ISA is taking the fight to the enemy’s home world of Helghan. The ISA goal is direct: Capture the Helghast leader, Emperor Visari, and bring the Helghast war machine to a halt. Assuming the role of Sev, a battle-hardened veteran and a member of the special forces unit known as the Legion, players will lead a group of highly trained soldiers on a mission to take out the Helghast threat. For Sev and his squad, the invasion of Helghan is just the beginning. Tasked with securing Pyrrhus, the Capital City, the team quickly discovers that the Helghast are a formidable enemy on their home planet. Not only have they adjusted to the planet’s hostile conditions, they have also harnessed a source of power they can now use against the ISA. Sev discovers his squad isn’t just fighting enemy forces – their fiercest opponent may be the planet itself.

*Taken from the official game Fact Sheet
So I did get hands-on with the game at E3, and played right through the supplied demo. But we held off getting too fevered about it because Sony Australia also gave us some pretty solid access to at this year's PAUSE event (an Australia-only Sony media occasion), where I really took the game through its paces to see whether or not the hyperbole from the first Killzone finally had some foundation.

The first video shown for Killzone 2 was “running in real-time” according to Sony, prior to the PS3’s release, and this statement shook the industry. For one, said video was pretty impressive, visually. Two, if the PS3 was actually capable of handling real-time visuals like this, were the Xbox 360 (and PC’s) days numbered?

I can tell you now no, they are not (numbered, that is). Killzone 2 looks damn impressive – this much I cannot deny, however, there’s very little here in the way of imagination. Moreover, from what I’ve played so far (and what I’ve been told), the whole game is going to rely very heavily on scripted events. This means you’re not ultimately going to be coming across any vast open areas replete with all the detail you can muster ala Assassin’s Creed, it means for all intents and purposes, this is a corridor shooter.

It’s also a pretty uninspired visual treat. It looks fantastic, for what it is, but what it is, is a wasteland environment. Everything looks drab and dead, arid and cold. Areas are predominantly grey with very little life in sight – hell; even your soldiers and the Helghast are all colourless in design. I know it’s meant to be a war zone on another planet, but it doesn’t really wanna make me fight if the world around you isn’t worth fighting for.

That said, I did only play through a single level. There’s a whole game yet to be unveiled, and as I stated above, it does look fantastic for what it is.

So beyond the visual, what else has changed since the first game? Well, you can now jump (the first thing they added after cries of "shenanigans" from gamers who played through the first title), though it still feels pretty sluggish. There’s a duck and cover system, as well as blind-firing. You can carry up to two weapons ala Halo/Call of Duty 4 and hot swap them as you see fit. There are weapons strewn about the game also, and in equal keeping with trends set by Call of Duty 4, specific events (such as destroying tanks) will usually reveal a grenade launcher or bazooka lying around nearby.

The level I played had my character working with another soldier running through tight corridors, breaching open warehouse-type areas and suppressing/taking fire from across distances from Helghast on mounted weapons, or doing the same to them. Scripted moments saw me watching one of my men killed at point-blank range (I restarted the checkpoint to see if I could save him but I couldn’t), or simply shooting at the face of a building until it collapsed with Helghast inside.

The action was pretty intense, and I found the AI to be more than passable, but the real issue here was the standard in gameplay, ie; we’ve been here before with countless games.

There wasn’t anything original on offer barring the game’s story, which unless you played through the first and the PSP offering, Killzone: Liberation (a great game, I might add), you’re probably not going to care *too* much about. For all its visual glory, Killzone 2, as far as I can distinguish thus far, is just another standard shooter.

Adding to this, I can reveal there’s nothing comfortable about the way in which the game controls. It feels sluggish and mechanical. There’s nothing swift or decisive about movement, nor does it ever feel fluid or organic. I hate to continually compare new FPS titles to Call of Duty 4, but there just hasn’t been a game capable of topping it, least of all (thus far), Killzone 2.

I can’t only gripe about the game though. As I mentioned earlier, AI seems much improved over the first game, and the animation and ragdoll system for deaths is really pretty cool. There looks to be weight to the game’s bodies, so you’re not just watching a dead character fall to the ground limbs flailing madly.

The environment too, is far more engaging in that a fair chunk of it can be destroyed and interacted with, and we’re told to expect plenty of opportunities to exploit this in taking out Helghast (the aforementioned collapsing building aside) both spectacularly and strategically, offering up some out-of-the-box thinking that will hopefully break away from the many scripted game segments.

There’s also the multiplayer we’ve been informed of, which I didn’t get a chance to check out. I’m not overly confident about it yet, because the game itself feels too sluggish, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until a Beta or demo is released over the PSN.

The multiplayer class system is kind of cool though. Instead of being locked into a single class system with definitive attributes, players will be able to mix abilities from different classes to create a unique set of character tools based on the way in which they like to play.

It doesn’t sound overly different to applying CoD4 perks to a created character class, though the decision to create class roles, rather than strengths and weaknesses like CoD4 is a good decision (if taken from the Team Fortress/Battlefield model). At this stage, online skirmishes will be 32 players strong with the ability to create clans who can compete for in-game currency to be used in strengthening your overall unit.

As I mentioned though, how all of this plays out thus far is yet to be revealed, but if they can fix the clunky controls and deliver on the tangible class system, it could be a Call of Duty killer on the PSN. But there’s still a ways to go yet for Guerilla Games. It’s too early to comment on the overall art-direction of the game – it is set on an alien world, but we’re yet to see how creative the team becomes here.

All eyes are most definitely on this “Halo Killer”, and now with Halo well and truly out of the way and Call of Duty back on top of the heap, Killzone 2 has some mighty big shoes to fill.

There are some cool elements here, but overall the experience is nothing new, which in the very crowded field of FPSs, isn’t boding well. That said, we really have only seen the surface of a game that has been in development for the better part of the last four years – we really do just have to wait and see.





Latest Comments
Steve Farrelly
Posted 06:33pm 13/8/08
Feel free to sign up and post your thoughts if you're new to AusGamers!

last edited by Steve Farrelly at 18:33:40 13/Aug/08
eniork
Posted 08:51pm 13/8/08
zdf
ctd
Posted 09:07pm 13/8/08
Bleh. Just be any old FPS. I didn't buy a PS3 going 'OMGZ KILLZONE'
JeffH
Posted 10:35pm 13/8/08

Check your facts a bit before you post an article full of errors like this.

I won't bother correcting it, but you've gotten so much wrong about the history of Killzone.

Hohoho
Posted 12:09am 14/8/08
>>>It’s also a pretty uninspired visual treat. It looks fantastic, for what it is, but what it is, is a wasteland environment. Everything looks drab and dead, arid and cold. Areas are predominantly grey with very little life in sight – hell; even your soldiers and the Helghast are all colourless in design. I know it’s meant to be a war zone on another planet, but it doesn’t really wanna make me fight if the world around you isn’t worth fighting for.<<<

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=327270&page=57

read here, mate!
Lunch
Posted 12:47am 14/8/08
constructive first post heh.

I like the fact that already you are showing apathy.
lamby
Posted 01:46am 14/8/08
Some people, myself included don't necessarily want innovation in my FPS. I like the point they're at now with the likes of cod4 etc... There are only so many ways to alter the controls/physics/cover system/story before you break it and launch another genre. Why not polish up the current standard to the point where it is amazing. We always get one defining game in a particular genre before insisting it is time to move on. I personally love FPS and would happily play variations of cod4, ie, new story, characters, environments etc... Its not broken, dont try to fix it. I hope K2 does live up to the hype, it is obviously aiming at being a solid game incorporating all of the best elements of other games. Sounds good to me. I dont like K1 but to be honest, its so different from K2 that you cannot really compare them.
orakga
Posted 02:20am 14/8/08
Good thing you mentioned the controls. Most "hands on" articles fail to mention that when it's single-handedly the most important gameplay aspect of a console-FPS. My friend had the same comment after trying it out at E3. He said it was almost as bad as Turok, and nowhere nearly as good as CoD4.

CoD4 is the bare-minimum requirement IMO, and Halo has it perfected. Too bad these developers can't seem to figure this out after 7 years since Halo 1 first set the standard. KZ1's controls really sucked (I played it for 30 seconds then wrote it off), and the only thing I wanted to know was whether or not they fixed it. I guess they didn't.
Bah
Posted 04:23am 14/8/08
read here, mate!
Jesus, pick up your game ausgamers, these neogaf guys are making us look like noobs when it comes to trolling steve.
Steve Farrelly
Posted 11:08am 14/8/08
I've been crying myself to sleep at nights - hehe

can't we all just get along :P
reso
Posted 11:22am 14/8/08
F*****G ROFL @ NOOB STEVE FAILLY HA HA HA
mark
Posted 09:26pm 16/8/08
it looks very good
Strange Rash
Posted 10:07am 17/8/08
Don't worry about them steve, who cares about substance and meaning when all we want are inspiring visual treats.
Khel
Posted 01:43pm 17/8/08
I like the point they're at now with the likes of cod4 etc... There are only so many ways to alter the controls/physics/cover system/story before you break it and launch another genre. Why not polish up the current standard to the point where it is amazing. We always get one defining game in a particular genre before insisting it is time to move on.


Yeah, I have this argument with people at work all the time. Some people believe a good game, has to be a game that innovative and pushes the genre forwards. Personally I believe theres a lot of room for games which don't really innovate much but just perfectly execute what they're trying to do. If you look at the single player portions of cod4 they weren't all that innovative, a couple of little cool new things added here and there, but mostly it was awesome just because they totally nailed it and executed their vision perfectly. Blizzard hardly ever innovate, they openly admit they're not about innovating, they're just about making really good, polished, well executed games, and I think theres still a lot of room for that sort of game making.

Of course, if thats the approach you're gonna take, you can't go halfway, you really do have to turn out something of awesome quality, or you got nothing to fall back on :)

edwineverready
Posted 11:44am 20/8/08
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