In Killzone 2, you’re a member of a human military squad, Alpha, and are sent to a different planet to kill some Hig alien scum. Along the way, you’ll shoot...And shoot. Not a whole lot of variety here. No puzzles to solve, no really neat boss fights or little gimmicks tossed it, just shooting swarms of enemies...Which is fun at first, but it grows tired by the end of the game. Yeah, there are a variety of different guns, but they all work the same...point and shoot. With the exception of only a couple guns they’re all basically the same tactic, just a different type of firepower coming out of the barrel. After a while, it just feels very old. What’s worse is that the game occasionally teases that you’ll be doing something different, like driving a vehicle, or at least shooting from atop one. But alas, aside from a mission where you very briefly get inside a tank and shoot, one where you briefly get behind a turret inside your military base, and one where you’re in some sort of battle machine for the whole level (which oddly enough, plays almost exactly the same as if you weren’t in it), there’s really no change-up in the missions. You go into an area, you’ll find a lot of Higs that want to murder you, and then you kill them all. That’s it. This makes things feel pretty repetitive pretty fast.
That formula of kill, move, kill some more wouldn’t be quite so bad if it weren’t for some frustrating aspects of the gameplay. Your aim, for example, could be dead-on...But that still doesn’t mean you’re going to connect with your shot. Even when the cursor is red, meaning you’ve got an enemy locked in your sights, it still seems to be a toss-up as to whether you’ll actually connect or not sometimes. At certain points in the game, precise aiming is necessary and it just feels cheap when you feel that you’ve got a perfect shot, and the enemy doesn’t move, but you still miss anyway. Another big problem I had was how the screen changes when you’re close to death. When you’re almost dead, that’s the time you need to be able to see the most...So having blood cover most of the screen as the action turns into a blown-out black and white picture is extremely difficult to not only see where you’re going if you’re looking for cover, but it’s also hard to see where any enemies are. Again, this feels cheap rather than challenging when you’re picked off while blinded by the ‘near-death’ screen. Another problem I have is how you constantly lose your weapons at the end of each level. This would be fine if it were like, say Resistance 2, where each level is a new location. But in Killzone 2, half the time, you’re starting the next level where you left off in the first. I jump on a train at the end of one level with some useful weaponry, and when the next level starts on that same train, I suddenly have nothing. Basically, you’re telling me that this Sev guy is in the middle of a war and just says, “Eh, it’s a train. No enemies here, I’ll just throw my weapons away.” That deserves a one word reply; Dumb. I’m not even gonna get into all of the mysterious ‘instant deaths’ that I got as I played. I’ll just say that you don’t see them coming, you don’t know where they came from, but they happen...And it’s not fun.
Another problem I had, that has less to do with the combat, is that the game lacks a map of any kind. I don’t know how many times I had no idea where I was going, or heard a voice say ‘Over here, Sev!’ and I had absolutely no idea where ‘here’ was. A map with a little marker or something with a dot locating where you need to go would have been nice, even if it was just in the pause menu. Heck, add in some blips for enemy movement while you’re at it since when you’re near death you probably won’t be able to see ‘em anyway. Something useful like that could’ve been added to the game instead of the stupid ‘tilt the loading screens by tilting the controller’ garbage they added to apparently make the loading screens less boring. It doesn’t work, by the way.
Now, while I have a lot of complaints, that’s not to say that this game doesn’t have any good to it. While a gun feels like a gun in that they all require you to aim and fire, there are different ones to find, like machine guns and shotguns...And you’ll often find gun racks laying around with two or three weapons for you to choose from. I liked this since it allowed me to choose what weapon I wanted to use rather than be stuck with one I didn’t want. There’s also a neat gun called the electricity gun that’s kind of like a flamethrower, except it shoots out electricity...And it has infinite ammo. Once you get ahold of one of those, the game almost becomes ridiculously easy...Perhaps they made that weapon a little too good. Also, the Higs aren’t all exactly the same, different ones carry different weapons and use different attack patterns...It’s a nice little variety that slightly helps prevent boredom from kicking in when you’re just shooting everything in sight. I also enjoy the intelligence of the computer. They don’t just stand there and wait for you to shoot them; they’ll duck under cover or try to get out of the way of your line of fire. Again, this helps to prevent boredom since it adds some challenge to the game.
The online aspects of Killzone 2 are alright. It’s fun shooting other players from around the world, but Killzone 2 makes you work for the best weapons in the game when playing online. You have to basically unlock weapons, which is fine and good, but when you’re stuck playing against folks who have had the game for months and have the deadliest weapons unlocked, and you’re stuck with the basic supplies, it just gets a tad frustrating. So, while I enjoy the idea of unlocking and earning what you get, it just doesn’t work when battling other folks online...It just puts a severe handicap on all newcomers, who already have a handicap in getting used to the controls. And while the game is multiplayer online, it’s not multiplayer during campaign mode...Which just plain doesn’t make sense since you’ve got an AI partner fighting alongside you during the vast majority of the game.
As far as graphics go, Killzone 2 is up there as amongst the best of the Playstation 3 library. The opening cutscene looks pretty good on a high-def screen and all those explosions and smoke effects look quite lovely as well. The audio for the game feels more like a soundtrack you’d hear in a war movie. It’s nearly all instrumental, with the exception of a few vocals, and sounds like an orchestra is playing. It fits the battles pretty nicely...But you likely won’t be able to remember a note of it once you shut the console down. That’s not to say that the audio isn’t good or that it doesn’t do its job well...It’s just not very memorable. Likewise, all the sound effects and voice-overs are all top-notch. Cosmetically, Killzone 2 got a lot of love.
Overall, Killzone 2 isn’t a bad game by any means...It just seems like it’s missing something to make it great. It doesn’t really have anything within it to make it stand out among all of the other first-person shooters of the current generation of consoles. The story is decent, but not great. The gameplay is decent, but not great. The game itself is decent, but not great. With no real innovation and multiple flaws, Killzone 2 is a decent game to play if you love first-person shooters, but everyone else may be scratching their heads as to why people were thinking that this game was going to be a ‘system seller’ for the Playstation 3.