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Killzone 2 (PlayStation 3) artwork

Killzone 2 (PlayStation 3) review


"Because the game rewards you for playing, you never feel that your time and efforts are being wasted. ďSo I got my ass handed to me and only made 10 kills in an hour," you might think. "Big deal. Thatís still 10 kills closer to my next rank.Ē With that said, you'll never just have 10 kills in a match of Killzone 2. The game is designed for heavy casualties. Itís not uncommon to get over a hundred kills in a single match."



Generally, itís about a week between the time that I receive a game and the time that I produce a review of it (RPGs notwithstanding). When things take longer, I usually blame the delay on the weather, Satan, Capcom or any other of the mysterious forces in life over which we have no control. In this case, though, the fault lies entirely with Killzone 2 itself. Iíve simply been too busy making kills online to spend time writing about it.

If all of the big first-person shooters got together and had an orgy, Killzone 2 would be their love-child. It features all of the latest FPS goodies, including limited carrying capacity (one handgun, one big gun), recoverable health, an unobtrusive HUD, un-killable team mates who repeatedly shout annoying phrases and a cover system lifted straight from Gears of War. The only thing missing from the package is a crowbar. I guess Gordon Freeman wasnít invited to the party.

For prospective buyers, the online mode is all that really needs to be considered. Though Killzone 2 as a single-player game does feature solid mechanics, the mode gets old fast. But youíre not really expecting me to talk about the single player experience, are you? Iím telling you, itís totally skippable and any time spent describing it is time that I could be spending in another online match. Ah, hell... I suppose I am contractually bound to mention it.

Historically, the first-person shooters which have aged well have done so by incorporating other elements, such as puzzles (as in the case of Portal). A good FPS will often transcend its genre by focusing heavily on story and presenting a detailed environment, like Bioshock did. Even the most basic FPS usually takes care to include some kind of twist in the gameplay that differentiates it from its inbred cousins, like Deus Exís RPG elements or Half Life 2ís gravity gun. In contrast, Killzone 2 uses tested mechanics that work (but are nothing original) in linear environments within the scope of what might be the blandest story ever to hit the PS3. The gameís not particularly bad; it just doesnít stand out in any way amongst all of the other ďkill the invading aliensĒ games (though to be fair, in this case itís the good guys doing the invading, and the aliens are just outcast humans who watched Jin-Roh one too many times).

Ignore the single player. Go straight to the multi-player instead.

It feels funny to be saying that because Iím not really an online shooter kind of person. Mostly, I hate the trash-talking. The only thing I hate more than the trash-talking is getting killed within two seconds of spawning... by a trash-talker. Especially when that trash-talker is fourteen. Generally, Iíll play a few online rounds of a game when I first get it, but eventually I hit that wall where I have to start devoting some serious time to the game if I want to get better, and rarely do I have any reason to do so.

Killzone 2 goes to great lengths to provide those reasons.

Probably the most obvious draws are the ranks and medals. Ranks are rewarded when you make a lot of kills, while medals require you to meet certain conditions (such as 10 headshots in a single round). Beyond just being markers of your achievements, the ranks and medals give you new abilities and weapons with which to wreak havoc on your opponents. Unlocked jobs and skills are well thought out and offer a lot of variety in play style. The starting class has no special ability beyond generally kicking ass, but the later classes have highly useful powers. For instance, the medics can revive downed team members, and the tacticians can create new spawning points on the map. Once you progress far enough, you can even mix any two abilities to make your own custom class.

Because the game rewards you for playing, you never feel that your time and efforts are being wasted. ďSo I got my ass handed to me and only made 10 kills in an hour," you might think. "Big deal. Thatís still 10 kills closer to my next rank.Ē With that said, you'll never just have 10 kills in a match of Killzone 2. The game is designed for heavy casualties. Itís not uncommon to get over a hundred kills in a single match.

Running into a room filled with enemies, unloading a clip of your machine gun, trying to take out as many guys as you can before getting popped in the head, and spawning to do it all again... this describes pretty well the basic Killzone 2 experience. No matter how low of a rank you possess and no matter how low the number of jobs youíve unlocked, youíll always have access to enough firepower to kick some ass. You donít lose points when youíre killed, either. The only penalty for dying is that you have to work your way back to the action after you re-spawn. Even this has a workaround, though; groups of players can form squads that provide them with their own dedicated chat line, and basically make the squad leader a walking spawn point. Thus, if a leader is a solid player, he can hold down a strategic point and have reinforcements spawn on his position, taking the fight closer to the enemyís front. This system means that thereís a place for any kind of player in Killzone 2. Players who like to hang back a bit to pick guys off from a distance make good team leaders and medics, while those who like to rush in will find that the game is more than willing to accommodate them with a good selection of shotguns, machine guns, and explosives. Thereís also something to be said for medics on the front lines and for leaders who push forward the spawn points. Killzone 2 doesnít restrict its players in terms of strategy and that means that anything can happen.

What stands out the most about Killzone 2 is its ferocity. Matches are played out like a series of missions between two teams. Options include all of the classics, like Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Assassinate the Target, and Team Death-Match. When one mission is complete, the winning team is awarded a point and the next mission immediately begins on the same map. No matter what the mission is, it always feels epic. Grenades explode. Rounds ricochet off the metal and dirt surroundings. Groups of soldiers charge into enemy lines, leaving clouds of dust and the screams of the fallen in their wake. Teams desperately call out for support and lone soldiers curse as they reload in the face of an encroaching army. Every moment is filled with pumping adrenaline. After a while, you just get addicted to the rush. And then you canít stop playing.

The player base is strong, the lag is non-existent, the maps are well designed, the graphics are amazing... I canít praise Killzone 2 enough. It's just too bad that the single-player is lacking so much, because otherwise this would be surely remembered as one of the FPS giants. Even so, thereís still more than enough online awesomeness here to secure Killzone 2ís place in the shooter hierarchy.

At least until Gordon Freeman shows up again and crowbars the shit out of it...

Rating: 8/10

zippdementia's avatar
Freelance review by Jonathan Stark (March 14, 2009)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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Feedback

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Lewis posted March 15, 2009:

A very interesting approach to the review. Not seen anyone gloss so quickly over SP before, but I think it's effective here. Good work.

I spoke to Pete at Reso yesterday, who's reviewing this for us. Asked him what he thought. "Very disappointed," he said.
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JANUS2 posted March 15, 2009:

Good review. But did you not criticise me for taking almost exactly the same approach with my Perfect Dark Zero review?!
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Lewis posted March 15, 2009:

Where is your PD:Z review? I can't see one!
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EmP posted March 15, 2009:

It's here. Janus has the unfortunate habit of writing really good reviews and then arbitarilly deleting them. I can find this one still because I cleverly linked to it when I wrote my own PD:Z review at the start of the year.

I have Janus' address. One day I shall turn up on his doorstep and pelt him with water ballons until he puts them all back up. He's only about an hour away from someone I visit every other month, anyway. Hmm...
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zippdementia posted March 16, 2009:

It's funny, Janus. I thought of you a lot while writing this one.

In my defense I'll say that I was dissapointed in your PD review because I think ANYONE can see that RARE put a lot of time and effort into PD's single player. Levels were expansive and drastically different from each other, there was over twenty guns to have fun with, objectives were complex and interesting, there were well-scripted events, and the story had some nice twists.

Killzone 2's single player, on the other hand, feels like multi-player without the fun.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.
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EmP posted May 23, 2009:

http://www.n4g.com/ps3/NewsCom-294802.aspx?CT=1

Enjoy.
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zigfried posted May 23, 2009:

Not very honest gamers at all. its getting sad how these unknown sites give out 'low' ratings to high profile ratings just to cause a bit of controversy on N4G and get some hits. at least take some pride in your work dimwits.

This is probably the funniest thing in there. Tons of inane, nearly incomprehensible rants... then the one guy who CAN put two sentences together, smashes Zipp for daring to give the game a lowly... EIGHT?!

//Zig
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zippdementia posted May 24, 2009:

Whoa... the internet is scary.

Honestly, that's the most random bunch of comments I've ever seen. My favourites:

After putting in 70 hours in (50 hours online/20 hours campaign) I can say I enjoy the single player much better.

Really? That's why you put twice as much time into the online mode, right moron?

Cool review,good thing your review means nothing.

I honestly can't tell if he liked my review or not.

I enjoyed the single player much more but to me the single player wasnt all that fun.

Er... what?

SEV

RICO

TEMPLAR

GAARZA

VISARI

RADEC

STILL FORGETABLE ?

TRY PLAYING THE GAME. NICE TRY WITH THE MISCONCEPTION THOUGH.


Yeah. They were all pretty forgettable. This guy's funny, though.

I would like to see what would happen to honestgamers & co. if N4G ceased to exist...

We'd stop getting snarky comments from idiots?

Yeah, these were really enjoyable to read. Thanks, EmP!
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Lewis posted May 24, 2009:

Ah, the joy of aggregate sites.

The problem being, of course, that they don't take into account discrepancies between scoring systems, so where an 8 for KZ2 elsewhere may have been slightly underwhelming, here's it is of course very good.

Don't worry about it, man. Have a look at the Edge review on there for some serious anger. A seven?! CONDEMNED TO HELL!

I remember when Martin reviewed Resi 5 at Resolution and gave it 82% in what was, for the most part, an incredibly glowing review. Someone commented saying "It deserves nothing below 90, and that's not just my opinion... that's fact." Stupidly, I replied, calling him on his idiocy and pointing out that, by our scoring guidelines, 80-90% means there is very little wrong with the game. Loads of people hit the "disagree" button. Say wha?!

Anyway, my favourite one from this thread is the guy that claims to have done his research and discovered you're 42! Bloody hell, you age quickly, Zipp.

Your integrity is always going to be called if you go against the grain with a review, no matter how slightly. We've gotta deal with it. It's happened to us all before and it will happen again. Just keep on writing what you think is a fair appraisal, and no one important will ever care. That's what matters, right?

(Not that it is against the grain. Your review mirrors what pretty much every review under the sun said. The only thing that might be a tad lower is the score, ie. the arbitrary numbers, ie. the stuff that's totally dependent on each site's system, ie. the thing all the sensible people hate about sites like N4G.
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zippdementia posted May 24, 2009:

Wait, what? Who thought I was 42???
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Lewis posted May 24, 2009:

Someone on the comments there says, and I paraphrase, "I looked this guy up and he's some 42-year-old still trying to talk about games."
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Lewis posted May 24, 2009:

Here we go. From the "open zone" comments section:

"i checked his profile out and the guy is seriously depressing. hes like 42 years old trying to be a game reviewer. sorry buddy, go get drunk and beat up."
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fleinn posted May 24, 2009:

..the truth hurts. (42 years old, zipp.. *tsk, tsk*)

I don't know.. Since some of the scenarios in the SP come back in the multiplayer, you recognize the setting, and that makes the multiplayer deeper and easier to come back to, imo. But on the other hand, it's not really necessary to have played the SP to appreciate the MP level- designs. The Tharsis refinery. Radec's Academy. The bridge crossing. There is a separate backstory on all those levels that stands on it's own.

And the SP is a lot like that, too - scenarios with a narrative, like the underground trekking, Visari Square, the Cruiser intercept. The assault in the dam - it doesn't try to actively tell a story, or amaze the player with.. er.. great dialogue, and so on. Jippidi- ****ing doodaa. Instead the "story" is just stuff happening.

While the real narrative is in the scenarios that you just happen to be a part of.

But I like the approach, because you point out what a terrible smear the entire campaign story- line really is. :D The main plot- devices, the nuke and the role Visari plays - they get about thirty seconds out of it. The rest really just is.. stuff happening.

..I'm still not sure that's a bad thing, though. I mean, let's face it, this is not Shakespeare we're talking about here.

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