Killzone First Play

To PlayStation 2 action gamers Halo has always been, well, a four letter word. While the PS2 has its share of good action titles such as the games in the SOCOM series, it has been lacking a shooter that can generate the same widespread degree of excitement, appeal, and dedication enjoyed by Halo. Soon, however, the PS2 will have Killzone, and if the prerelease demo we played is any indication, the game will be able to hold its own against the Xbox’s marquee title. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if gamers began to buy PlayStation 2’s just so that they can play Killzone.

Screenshots
The future of urban combat.

Killzone is set in the future at a time when man has colonized the stars. Vecta is the now the seat of the ISA, a republic formed by the peace-loving worlds of humanity. However, all is not well as the Helghast, a branch of humanity hardened by the colonization of inhospitable worlds, has decided that they would like to help themselves to the fruits of ISA civilization. Vecta is under siege by the brutal and militaristic Helghast and as a member of the ISA defense forces you must fight to defend your world and way of life.

One of the things that works strongly in the game’s favor is its setting. The environments are set on an alien world and yet resemble familiar landscapes from conflicts ranging from the trenches of World War I to the bombed out cities of World War II to the jungles of Vietnam. These war-scarred landscapes and urban environments will invoke images of war from World War II to the streets of Iraq which in turn will generate more tension than an alien landscape can ever muster. The weapons in the game are also different but familiar. There are no lasers or blasters to be found, just high-tech assault rifles, machine guns, tanks, and the like that still rely on some hot lead to take down their targets. This all gives the game a lot of freedom in developing its story while keeping the combat and environments familiar to players. The result is a gritty and action-packed shooter that while set in the future feels like it could easily take place a few years from now. The demo we played included two levels: a furious fight in trenches and bunkers during a large-scale enemy assault and an urban mission in a bombed-out city in which a small team must fight their way past the enemy to rescue a captured comrade.

The first mission starts you off in a trench coming under enemy fire. You are an assault rifle-toting grunt and your mission is to follow another soldier as he leads you through the battle to an underground entrance to a city. To say that this battle is frenzied would be an understatement. This is not your typical “one man versus the world” shooter – you’ll fight alongside your fellow soldiers and face squads of enemy soldiers who know how to use cover and provide covering fire for each other as they advance. Not only that, you’ll need to contend with enemy armor and artillery shells landing all around you. In spite of this onslaught you are not defenseless. As an infantryman you are equipped with an assault rifle with an attached grenade launcher. You also carry grenades that you can toss quickly in a pinch or let charge up first for a larger blast. You can also man larger stationary weapons as evidenced by some time spent beating back attackers with a bunker-mounted heavy machine gun. If these weapons don’t suit your taste, you can always scrounge for weapons dropped by the enemy dead or your fallen comrades. It is easy to pick up a new weapon and put it to use, but you’re limited to carrying three weapons at a time so you’ll have to choose wisely.