Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Game Play: Killzone 2 First Look

Well the preorder did come on time and since I was pretty much brainfried when I got home on Friday, it was perfect timing. Killzone 2 was just what the doctor would have ordered, if the doctor was a gaming freak without a medical license.

There has been a lot of noise about reviewing Killzone 2, and I've already talked about that to some length. Now having played at least a fistful of the game, that being a portion of the single player, the whole thing is even more ridiculous.

It's true, Killzone 2 doesn't innovate. However since it belongs in a genre which only seems to try to be truly innovative every couple years or so, let's just hold that remark in check for a moment.

The first thing you'll notice about the game is that it is extremely attractive. It falls into the kind of level design which is trying for highly realistic locations, and very few of them "feel like a level", so to speak, although the occasional "I bet you know what will happen when you walk into that room" still occurs. The areas are dense with objects, and honestly the game throws so much visual information at you that at times you may forget to blink. This especially true once you start shooting the whole thing up.

While gritty and realistic, the design can also be somewhat monochromatic and dark. Granted, you're in a killzone and not a forest reserve or whatnot, but it does setup the reason that even though pretty ridiculous from a logical point of view, you'll be darn glad the Helghast decided to put those funky red lights on all their helmets. While it seems like pretty silly military decision, it sure beat being sniped from the shadows for hours on end.

For most of the game, you'll go from point A to point B, killing everything in between, and then occasionally hunker down in point C to kill things that come at you.

Never let it be said this game is not aptly named.

A huge hinge of the game is the cover mechanic, and for me is where some of the beauty and some of the problems lie. To do it completely, you'll be pushing L2 to keep close to your cover, pull the L stick to poke around, probably hit R3 in order to get zoomed in, and then fire with R1.

It takes a little getting used to - and the payoff isn't insanely great. It works, and it works in an amazing number of situations which lend to the complexities of the game, but as mechanics go it is neither crisp nor smooth. Yet, at the same, that kind of works for me, because some of the button press methods I've seen other games, which simplify the process ... well ... they don't stress me out. I'm not a fan of Killzone's because it makes me work, but I oddly like it because it makes me think, and if I absent mindedly do something wrong - I get shot up for it.

Which is why Killzone 2 really works for me. It's not a "thinking man's shooter" or some such nonsense, but like many successful games in the genre, you do get farther if you think about the scenario. There are times when taking cover makes sense, there are times when rushing makes sense, and there are times when backtracking to get that sniper rifle makes sense.

It's not a perfect shooter. It's certainly not the most unique one. It's not a Halo killer or Gears of War killer. But it is really, really good one and it should be recognized as such. It's a top tier rendition of the FPS genre and can safely rub shoulders with the big guys. If I had to sum it up, I'd say someone took the original Killzone, slammed it alongside Criterion's Black and expanded the whole into a deep and engaging arena. I don't care that Killzone 2 doesn't break the mold, because I am too damn busy shooting the hell out the mold to notice.

OK, off to travel now. Will try multiplayer in a few weeks when I'm back in the country.