12 February 2010 | theinternetiscrazy
A great technical achievement. That's all.
Killzone 2. Where to start? in terms of technical achievement, it's unbeatable. The setup is revealed in a pretty impressive cinematic that has you pumped up and ready to take the fight to the "Helghast" - essentially intergalactic British Nazis led by fascist dictator Brian Cox and his lapdog, a smarmy git of a general who, upon speaking for the first time, will have you thinking "ooh that's thingy, what's he from again?"!
You start the game by waking up, bleary-eyed in your bunk aboard a fairly impressive spaceship at the start of yet another D-day recreation (only THIS TIME your in a spaceship and THIS time the landing craft are hovering impractical transport craft things and THIS TIME the Nazi's aren't actually Nazis, they just LOOK like future-Nazis) where the game does it's level best to impress you. As you follow your squad-mate through it's corridors, the graphics and atmosphere dazzle you immediately -the planet below looks natural and the sight of space cruisers bearing down on the hostile world below is almost breathtaking. Every detailed surface is polished and well-designed, and put through filters that make you feel like you're looking through a genuine pair of human eyeballs. This, combined with the controls and movement - which do take some getting used to - gives you an unparallelled feeling of immersion that shooters nowadays sorely lack. Your average COD fan is going to have a few problems adjusting here, as the somewhat sluggish, weighty movements of the player character and the incredibly tough, bullet-resistant Helghast mix with other game play elements to create a challenge that requires a bit more thought and skill than simple fast reflexes and an itchy trigger finger. The fights are fantastic and tactics come into play far more than in most modern-day cinematic shooters. The player can expect to be surrounded by hostile forces. Once again, a COD fan will have difficulties here, as the foes in this game will not simply run out and shoot like moving targets with guns attached, but will take cover often, distract, flank, and suppress you and your allies, making for a unique challenge. When I played through this, I was impressed as I moved through the game and eagerly did battle with any Helghast that stood in my way. But as much fun as I had with this,there is a crippling problem with this game.
As soon as you meet your squad mates (specifically Shaun Natco, voiced by Noah lee Margotts) you instantly feel like killing every last one of them for being a million times more unlikeable than any of your enemies. it doesn't stop there, either: he story has literally zero bite, giving you no reason to care. Luckily, a game can still be driven along by the atmosphere and game play itself, and this is where Killzone exceeds, so a shooter fan can have a good deal of fun with it. But how did the people behind this game end up putting so much effort into the graphics, controls and atmosphere without a single one of them thinking "oh, hang on, we forgot the coherent plot and the likable characters and the motivations behind their actions and any reason for the player to give a damn about what's going on"?
So that's Killzone 2, then. The story continues being barely a faint glimmer of motivation and reason behind the characters and events, the characters themselves, with the exception of perhaps Pertwee's Radec and Marshall's Templar, are unlikeable and 1-dimensional. I honestly became more attached to the faceless legions of generic cannon-fodder allies that were destined to die in various detailed and realistic ways, at least THOSE guys were helpful, kept their heads down and acted like real people. They, unlike the characters I was supposed to give a damn about, were mercifully freed from the idiocy of whoever wrote the story for this. Killzone 2's ambition is marred by it's failure to nail a fundamental aspect of a good game - good writing. I've heard people defend this by saying that it's "just a game" but you can look at plenty of other titles, many of them much older than this, if you want an example of a great game with great writing driving it along. Killzone 2 could have been so much more, it's intriguing premise of humanity fighting a mutated version of itself and the story of how this came to be are explained in a few brief sentences during loading screens, as well as character back stories. God, if they had this material, why didn't they actually USE it? Sure, the game play is a lot of fun, the graphics are impressive and the atmosphere immerses you, but when there's no REASON for it all, then how can the developers expect us to really get involved?
Oh, and, um, the multilayer is kinda fun. Yeah. not much to say on that.