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Killzone 2 Review: War is Beautiful

The tagline for “Killzone 2″ is “War perfected.” While perfection is a tall order to fulfill for any game in any genre, “Killzone 2″ comes refreshingly close.  Since its infamous debut trailer back at E3 in 2005, “Killzone 2″ has had enormous shoes to fill. So, could Guerrilla Games actually meet the ambitious expectancies of gamers across the globe? Rest easy PS3 owners, as “Killzone 2″ improves upon nearly every aspect of the FPS genre, and, in doing so, becomes an early frontrunner for 2009’s game of the year.

The story of “Killzone 2″ is epic. You play as Sergeant Thomas “Sev” Sevchenko, and you and you team, Alpha squad, are sent to the Helghast homeworld to help take down their leader, Scolar Visari. You will be aided by familiar characters, like Rico (Killzone) and Evelyn (Killzone: Liberation). You’ll also be taking orders from Colonel Jan Templer, who’s the main protagonist of both the PS2 and PSP entries. While many of the characters from previous games have returned, playing those games is not integral to enjoying “Killzone 2″.

Throughout the game you will explore vastly different areas of Helghan and each one is just as enjoyable as the next. Whether you on a mining train speeding to a Helghan refinery, or in the midst of a dilapidated, war-torn palace in search of Visari, you will always feel like you’re exploring someplace new. The levels in “Killzone 2″ are nicely varied, and they collectively give you an overall sense that each area you encounter was detrimental into the survival of the Helghan universe. Another nice touch is the condition of the planet. By the time you and your squad mates step foot on Helgan, you realize that vast amounts of war have already ensued, and the planet seems as though it could be torn in half at any moment. One final note on the story is that the cutscenes are major in scope. One of “Killzone 2’s” greatest assets is it’s ability to show fantastic cutscenes, where a lot is going on, and suddenly drop you into those  intense situations, making you feel like your playing a movie.

Gameplay can be described in one word; innovative. “Killzone 2″ introduces a cover system that, at first, feels rushed and difficult to adapt to, (especially for those still playing “Resistance 2″). But by the end of the game you are forced to master its intricacies, and I soon found myself utilizing the cover system to the fullest extent. While the controls will take a bit getting used to, there are some variations provided, but none that seem to feel as adept to the game’s challenges as the default controls. If anything, it’s nice to at least have the option of different controls available.

Sev has a plethora of weapons available at his disposable during his time spent on Helghan. And while some are your average run-of-the-mill FPS artillery, others truly impress. The bolt gun rounds not only dig into an enemy’s flesh, but propel him many feet backwards into the air. And to add the proverbial cherry on top, the round explodes once the body hits the ground. The electricity gun fries anyone in sight, and while it seems a bit overpowered, it’s undeniably entertaining to use. Flamethrowers, RPG’s, grenades; “Killzone 2″ does not disappoint, and for the most part, there is an incredible balance between each of the weapons. However, this does bring up a major annoyance. You are allowed to carry two weapons at all times, but one must always be some sort of pistol or magnum. While these “peashooters” do contain infinite ammo, you would unlikely use them given the large array of better weapons at your disposal. Perhaps the developers thought the game would be too easy being able to carry two weapons of your choice. Whatever the case, it can be a distraction, and a fatal one on the harder difficulties.

Speaking of difficulty, “Killzone 2″ delivers. The AI of the Helghasts is phenomenal. They communicate, constantly use cover, and deploy in groups that will force you back into corners. “Killzone 2″ is not for the inexperienced gamer, however, if you go through at the medium difficulty setting, and make sure to utilize the cover system, you may just see the end. Sadly, part of the difficulty is due to design choices that can really be frustrating during harder parts of the game. Since you’re encouraged to use the cover system, you’ll also being spending a majority of time behind walls, unable to see what your enemies are doing. So, whenever an enemy fires a grenade or RPG at you (which usually means instant death), you will likely be unable to see the incoming threat, and die as a result. Again, this becomes increasingly annoying on the harder difficulties, but it also becomes something you learn to deal with.

All that said, the single player campaign is truly remarkable. Excellent pacing, gripping story and numerous thrills are all present, but if that isn’t enough, multiplayer will keep you going for months to come. Bots are included and add a nice touch. While various modes are offered, your traditional deathmatch is still where you’ll find the most fun.

Killzone 2 does have its problems, but they’re so few and far between in an overall remarkable package that they’re barely worth mentioning. “Killzone 2″ takes the FPS genre, and improves upon it in almost every single way. From its onset the game delivers constant thrills and is a real showcase for what the PS3 is capable of.  “Killzone 2″ is not only a FPS to be in awe of, it’s an exclusive you should be proud to own.

Rating: ★★★★★

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Comments

14 Responses to “Killzone 2 Review: War is Beautiful”

  1. Bossman on March 7th, 2009 3:35 am

    “improves upon it in almost every single way” - Wait a minute. I’m still waiting for you to tell me how Killzone 2 improves the FPS genre in almost every way?

    I hear no mention of the very imprecise control setup? It’s not just the PS3 horrible analog sticks, but the aiming is absolute rubbish. The developers response,”Killzone 2 is not a twich shooter” My ass. You have a game where every single portion becomes a stop and pop gunfight and you can’t get the enemy in your cross hairs at all.

    Improving on the FPS genre would not have me fighting hundreds of the same baddies. Where’s the variety of enemies that you fight? At least Resistance 2 has some variety. How many times in Killzone 2, did you get to a point and have to “hold down the fort from the rush of 100 Helghast?”

    Have you played Gears of War 2? All the way through? The level in the guts of the worm was one to remember.

    This game is good, but it is not the end all you make it out to be.

    Reply

    Nat X7 Reply:

    @Bossman,

    Let me start off by saying that I have not played “GOW 2″, and I cannot comment intelligently on the memorability factor of its levels. I’m sure that the game is amazing, and everything I’ve read, including your comment, assures me of that consensus.

    I loved “Killzone 2″ because, for a FPS, the cover system really helped make me feel a part of the war. Each level took place in an extremely interesting territory, and the story drew me in. Normally, I have problems with developers throwing waves of enemies at you, but in “K2″ they did so in interesting ways. They may have forced you to take a tank, or man a turret, or even cause some sort of environmental hazard. But it simply wasn’t a “here’s your gun, kill a bunch of enemies and end the level” type of affair for me.

    If your having trouble securing enemies in your crosshairs, perhaps you should practice more. After an hour of playing, I was grew comfortable with the controls and had little problem disposing of my enemies.

    Your “Resistance 2″ argument isn’t exactly sound. With its cover system, “K2″ is a more defensive game by nature, therefore, it’s unfair to criticize its defensive objectives. The game is playing to its strengths. How many times in ” Resistance 2″ did they tell you to advance on a Chimeran front?

    I understand your argument, and maybe it isn’t as grand a game as “GOW 2″, but I haven’t played that. So, in my mind, and in my review, “K2″ was awesome. But, if I do get the chance to play “GOW 2″ and I find positives or negatives with it, I will be sure to share with you.

    Thanks for the comment Bossman!
    Latas

    Reply

  2. killz2 on March 7th, 2009 5:42 am

    i don’t know why people have a hard time giving a game its due respect. it’s like they’re afraid to admit something i won’t get into. take bossman for example, immediately he jumps on the controls. completely ignoring the overall direction and design of the KZ2.

    instead of wanting to adjust, your natural instinct is to call foul on the controls. if you’d spend your time playing the game instead of arguing about it every chance you get, i’m sure you would adjust.

    KZ2 is not trying to be the next (insert any game you want).

    the gears of war franchise is not an FPS, first of all. so how does it improve the FPS genre? you shouldn’t even mention that in your argument.

    now regarding your “not a twitch shooter; my ass!” comment:

    i know you may not be used to it, but what’s wrong with having to stop and plan your attack? you cannot simply run out on the battlefield and kill everyone in sight without facing the consequence of death. the A.I. will not allow you to do this. no matter how good you think you are. not to mention the analog sticks are just fine. are you not used to the PS3 controller? perhaps you bought the system for KZ2, specifically?

    if not, i don’t know what makes me so different from you. i can assure you that i’ve played the same games you have leading up to the release of KZ2. my adjustment was not a problem. it took time but instead of complaining about it, i spent that time playing the game.

    Reply

    Bossman Reply:

    You misstook my comment to say I didn’t like the game. The reason I commented is that the reviewer said it improves on the fps genre in every way.

    I took issue with the improves part without any mention of the faults. The reason why I mentioned Gears was due to that game bring about the relevance of cover fire. It doesn’t matter if it’s fps or not, there are crosshairs that you have to line up to kill enemies, and the KZ2 control scheme is not the best when it comes to that.

    And for those who don’t realize that the Playstation analog controller was not meant for FPS shooters, then I don’t know what to tell you. The same can be said about the XBOX360 controllers not being made for fighters. I long for the day when controllers are all the same. Maybe I should look into a converter like they had in last gen.

    Reply

  3. UnitDaGamer on March 7th, 2009 12:34 pm

    I love the fact there’s a friggin’ cover system in this game…period! COD5 better have one too!

    Reply

  4. tossman on March 7th, 2009 4:56 pm

    GoW2 is nothing special man, u teenie boppers need to stay off the coke.

    Reply

  5. due on March 7th, 2009 5:47 pm

    “I hear no mention of the very imprecise control setup?”

    Maybe because there isn’t one and everything is normal and that you read one line from some other source without confirming it and then basing everything off that, yea good one dickhead….

    Get a fucking clue will you, bossman, toss some salad while you’re at it.

    Reply

  6. BossmanisGAY on March 7th, 2009 6:11 pm

    Bossman, Gears of war 2 is trash against killzone 2… besides what the fuck does playing gears has to do with this review?! FUCKING FANBOY, U EMBARRASS 360 owners…

    PSN: necronzero
    XBL: thyraei

    Reply

  7. BossmanisGAY on March 7th, 2009 6:14 pm

    PS3 controller not made for shooters!? GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK… every time i read ur comments i feel my IQ drops by 20…

    Reply

  8. klarax on March 7th, 2009 8:07 pm

    yep, and everytime he writes it. His drops 20 too, hence his reply.

    The controls are awesome:

    Alternative 2 - pretty much the same as Cod4 then, apart from the duck button.

    increase x and y movement speed by 1 or 2 notchs.

    And, bingo !!!

    p.s. i cant get enough of this game atm, and i never seem to play games online for long. Racked up like 40hrs, maybe more…. lol

    Reply

  9. DaveDaGamer on March 8th, 2009 3:25 pm

    I just finished KZ2 last night. I have to say that last level was the definition of intense. Glad to see this game live up to expectations. The only thing I have to say about it, was that it was a bit short. My final play through was 7 hr 15mins. And I know I could’ve beaten it quicker.

    Don’t go killing me cause I know about the online etc, I’m only talking about the single player mission. BTW I like the train level in KZ better than in GOW lol

    Reply

  10. killz2 on March 8th, 2009 11:52 pm

    damn, i can’t delete what i wrote.

    bossman, if you have a problem with the analog sticks, all anyone can say is get used to it. the rest of us get by just fine with the current setup. what makes us any different?

    the fact that you hate the analog setup shows that your opinion is going to be flawed in the eyes of anyone without a problem. i can’t really say you are wrong because you don’t like the analog setup; that’s your personal belief.

    on another note:
    i’ll repeat myself because i think you missed it the first time… KZ2 is a first person shooter. you remain in first person view when you are in cover. once again, KZ2 is a FIRST PERSON SHOOTER.

    rainbox 6 vegas utilizes a cover system, but it takes you out of first person and throws you in to third. as does quantum of solace and many others. KZ2 is the first FPS to break tradition. and for that reason alone, you cannot bring gears of war in to this discussion.

    (and before you go sighting gears of war’s cover system, look up a game called kill.switch)

    don’t take this personal, playa. i’m just saying, where you have a problem others don’t. it’s impossible to say who is right and who is wrong. you have to go with the majority. and a few of your “facts” don’t belong in this conversation. please keep it relevant for future reference. i’m no expert myself.

    Reply

  11. Killzone 2 Review: War is Beautiful Video on March 9th, 2009 3:07 pm

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  12. Deehablo on April 8th, 2009 4:08 pm

    I agree with Bossman a bit. The controls are a bit sucky. I’m not a dumb fanboy who blindly gets mad when people criticize the games or systems they love nor will I unjustly criticize a game that does not deserve it.
    But from all the hype and good ratings I expected the controls to be better.
    Killzone actually made me finally buy a PS3, completing my collection of all 3 systems. I love FPS and i’m quite good at it.. and I believe the best and most realistic controls in a FPS is in the Call of duty franchise with honorable mentions going to Rainbow six and Halo.

    Let me make my point. First off the PS3 controller is no where near as good as the 360s for playing FPS. So that aside, killzone still has control design issues. Whether it be the imprecise aiming… where u’re constantly trying to line up a shot or the button placement or the cover system. It’s a bit awkward and flawed!

    For one, in Call of duty there’s an aim assit. Meaning when an enemy is on screen, you can pull the left trigger at it kinda locks on to an enemy, in their general direction without being too precise as to make it too easy. You don’t have to scroll all over the screen trying to line up a shot. No, this doesn’t make it easy or unrealistic. It’s actually makes it very realistic.

    If you think of it, in real life, say you had a gun, and an enemy pops out of somewhere, once you see him you automatically can point your gun in his general direction. it’s not like you’re gonna hold the gun in your hand and move/wave it around until you lock on to him. It’s called hand eye co-ordination, and we’re all born with it. So that would be nice to have in every shooter. Just automatically get the gun in the general direction or close to the guy you want to shoot with the pull of a trigger.

    Secondly and the one that frustrates me the most.. Is this zoom thing. First off in Killzone, you have to press a button to bring the gun up to look into the sight and then press that button again to release. As opposed to Call of duty (which does it the right way) you pull a trigger and HOLD it, to bring your arms up to aim down the sight. Shoot by pulling another trigger. And release the trigger so your arms/gun goes back to it’s normal position. Now in real life, this is more of what happens. My arms’ natural position.. (and hopefully yours) is down by my side. If I had a gun in it and wanted to bring my arms up to look down the sight I would have to take my arms from their natural position (push a button) into a position that isn’t natural, and therefore one I cannot hold forever. When I’m finishing shooting, my arms would automatically want to go back to it’s natural position of being by my side (release the button). So if you translate this into video game terms. I should not have to preform another action, such as pressing a button twice. Cause by having to press a button to bring your arms/gun up and it staying their until you press the button again. You’re basically saying you can hold your arms like that forever, which is impossible. In killzone you can literally play the whole game with the gun sight up to your face if you don’t press that button again to release.
    It should be; I hold a button and release. Just as I would hold my arms up, then release.
    This gets annoying when you have to keep remembering to press a button in the heat of battle to get out of that zoom-in mode.

    In the case of the cover system the opposite is true. I SHOULD have to press a button to get in to cover the press it AGAIN to get out. Because they’re both conscious actions that are not naturally one way or the other. If I duck/crouch/hide behind cover (press a button) it’s not like I can naturally release myself from that position. I should have to consciously preform that action (press the button again) to get out of cover. In Killzone you have to hold down the button to stay in cover, if you forget to keep it held down.. u pop out and get nailed.
    Just small things like this make me think it’s not the great saviour of FPS nor does it “improve on it in every way”. Because every game developer is striving for more realism. Why not just use common sense when setting up your control scheme. And hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    I like Killzone alot.. but it’s definitely not my favorite FPS, not by a long shot!.

    Reply

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