Killzone 2 was billed as one of the most serious rivals to the Halo franchise, but it met a somewhat disappointing reception in North America. Under a forced comparison, it may not measure up to Halo’s innovative gameplay. However, it does easily pass the high standards that Halo set for the industry and remains one of the best first-person shooters in the Playstation 3 catalog.
The game is set after the events of Killzone and Killzone: Liberation on the planet Helghan, where its inhabitants had launched an invasion against an a colony belonging to the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance. Now, the ISA has prepared a counter-attack on Helghan whose aim is to capture their leader, Emperor Scolar Visari, in order to end Helghan aggression. The protagonist of the game is Sgt. Tomas “Sev” Sevchenko, an ISA soldier belonging to a special forces unit, “The Legion.” He has been assigned to lead the assault on the Helghan home planet and to capture Visari at all costs. The game begins as Sev and his team is deployed in enemy territory. During their assault on the enemy capital, the team is shocked to discover that their military intelligence had underestimated the strength of the Helghast force. The Helghans are accustomed to their local terrain and are able to marshal its natural phenomena, such as their massive lightning storms, to their advantage against the invading ISA force. The task force led by Sev, in contrast, is ill-equipped for such an environment, and they must adapt to survive the brutal environment of the Helghan home world.
The storyline is succinct and no-nonsense. The game narrative is simply a series of military objectives to be carried out against a typically fascist and militant force for the sake of freedom. There is minimal dialogue and character development, no intrigue or other surprise plot devices, and the mission objectives are straightforward and clear. The game developers do try to spice up the third act of the game by making some setbacks feel more personal, but since the characters remain quite one-dimensional, it’s hard to invest yourself to such a degree that you feel any real sympathy.
There are no real “events” in the game, so to speak, but that doesn’t mean that the game feels uneventful. In fact, it remains quite thrilling for the entirety of the campaign narrative. The plot is more than enough to drive the campaign action.
The visual and sound effects make gunfights into a hellish war-zone decorated by spectacular displays of destruction and chaos. The shattered walls, the inflamed buildings, the decaying rubble are all incredibly realistic details that make the Killzone environment seem devastated. The environment is also responsive, or at least destructible, which makes you feel like you are exerting an actual force on the world you’re inhabiting.
The Helghast enemies look formidable and are quite challenging in combat. There are a huge variety of weapons, each with their distinct weightiness, sensitivity, and recoil. Of course, no game is perfect and there are a number of defects and glitches, most notably some low-resolution shadows that mar some maps and characters here and there, but these slight errors won’t degrade your gaming experience too much. Finally, there is a great cover system that is essential to any strategy. You can lean out to take some shots and duck straight back in. It’s effective and very satisfying, especially in first person shooters.
The multiplayer component, which is perhaps the reason why most will want to purchase the game, does not disappoint. There is something for everyone whether you’re a novice or a veteran at first-person shooters. There are two modes of cooperative gameplay: Skirmish and Warzone.
Under Skirmish mode, you’ll be able to test out your skills against bots. The level of difficulty can be adjusting, allowing you to slowly test and alter your tactics for each map. When you’re ready, you can finally engage other players in the Warzone mode, which in turn features several match types, such as Capture the Flag or Team Deathmatch. The multiplayer component also features a great leveling system. You start out as a lowly soldier who can equip a limited number of weapons and ammo. As you continue to play, you gain experience, which will allow you to progress to higher ranks, each of which carries its own set of abilities.
While Killzone 2 has a solid campaign, it only takes approximately six hours to complete. This is slightly disappointing, as most first-person shooter campaigns last around 10-12 hours. However, its multiplayer component is worth the purchase alone. It is a must-buy for dedicated first-person shooter fans, but it is also a worthwhile introduction for novices.
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Genre: First-person shooter
Release date: February 27, 2009
Release platform: Playstation 3