Killzone 2

Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.

What the Game’s About
Killzone 2 is a game that has lived in infamy from the day it was announced. At E3 2005, Sony showed off footage of the game and what it was supposed to look like. After some revelations about the movie reel and some post-production shenanigans, the game was cast with a huge shadow of doubt that it could come close to that target set by the trailer. Since then, the game was shrouded in mystery until it was ready to be shown, for real. Picking up after the previous Killzone games, you are taking the offense to the Helghast’s home world in hopes of stopping their fascist ideology and their thirst for war.

What’s Hot
You are thrust into the war with a sense of immersion that has not been felt in a game to date. The graphics, which everyone at this point knows look amazing, contribute heavily to the immersion with a painstaking attention to detail. Dust kicks up, barrels glow red with heavy use and cloth blows with the breeze. Small things but they add up to make a huge impact.

When you boot up the game for the first time and hear the leader of the Helghast talking ominously about repelling an incoming attack, the tone and mood is set. You don’t need to know about the PS2 and PSP games to fully understand what is going on here. There is war, a hellish war that is brutal and unforgiving. The first impression you get of the planet Helghan is that no sane person would live there, let alone die. As the ISA commands the sky with floating command towers that look like skyscrapers, they send down troops into hotspots all around the Helghast’s home world to create an active battlefield where more troops can swoop in at a moments notice. Explosions fill the screen and smoke clouds your vision as the fog of war embraces you and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the next 10 hours.

Killzone 2 is the total FPS experience. You’ll likely see many of the same elements in other games, but Killzone 2 puts them all together better than any game to date. You have guns, bigger guns, explosions, fearsome enemies, tough space cowboys that get the job done and a story to tie it all together. Killzone 2 does it better because of its immersion factor and the fact that the developers went through all the appropriate measures to meticulously refine a game properly — never before have I seen a level of polish on a game like I have seen on Killzone 2. There is a delicate balance between seeing the main character’s actions and being the main character, seeing your arms and legs as your view whips around, that makes you feel more connected to the action on-screen. You are not merely controlling a reticule on-screen, there’s a real figure there waving his gun around, being bounced around by explosion, and sprinting for cover.

All of the energy and polish of the single-player carries over to the multiplayer game. Taking many of the same design principles as other popular online FPS games like Halo and Call of Duty, Killzone 2 implements a progression system to keep you hooked and playing. The levels are finely balanced and the HUD for the multiplayer games has all the important info placed where it is always readily readable. One of the biggest pet peeves in online matches is that the game updates of who killed who are virtually unreadable, and happily, Killzone 2’s readout is non-obtrusive while still being obvious.

Multiplayer is really where Killzone 2 shines through the dust and mire of Helghan. The single-player does a good job at setting up the narrative why you are there and it segue ways beautifully online. Teams are split between Helghast and ISA with a variety of modes that come pretty standard with FPS games. You start as a basic soldier and you quickly gain ranks, which allow you access to more weapons and solider classes. The great thing is that you’ll never feel gimped or shortchanged because you don’t have an uber rank. Playing the plain vanilla warrior is just as satisfying as specializing your gameplay to be a medic. It’s a fantastic, intelligent mesh of the class-based gameplay from Team Fortress with the upgrade system from Call of Duty. Killzone 2 is the PS3’s definitive online FPS, rivaling that of the legendary Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3.

What’s Not
There are only a couple of problems with Killzone 2. One of them is the loading spots. While playing through the game, there will be spots between major segments of the levels where the game will stop and think about what it needs to do next by “hiccuping.” It is a consequence of the game lacking any traditional load screens. It breaks the flow of the game a tiny fraction but that small reprieve is not always a bad thing particularly after an intense battle for control of a bridge.

The other problem is the story is incredibly straight forward. Space operas like this usually throw twists and turns with some undercurrents of intrigue until the end but Killzone 2 is your balls-to-the-wall gunfest. You don’t play a complex or conflicted character; you are a badass looking to kick some ass in the name of good. There are pivotal moments but Killzone 2 keeps it simple and safe for the story.

Final Word
Killzone 2 borrows a lot of its ideas from other game but the key difference is that Killzone 2 cranks the decibels to levels not yet seen in video games. This is the definitive gaming experience of the year so far. This is the total package from top to bottom and worth every single penny you spend on it. In a time when you need to make sure that each dollar counts, a recommendation can’t get any higher for this game. Killzone 2 is the new standard for all FPS games.