Killzone 2 Review

Sure, the game looks and sounds great. But who cares? Any Wii or DS owner can tell you that video games are more about participation than they are slack-jawed amazement, i.e. presentation is nice, but a game's worth is mostly centered on how much fun it is to play. Killzone 2 makes a misstep or two with the gameplay, but they're fairly minor complaints. So minor, in fact, that I'll only give you a few brief bullet points concerning the bad before we move onto the so, so, so good.

*The control scheme won't work for a lot of people. There are alternate setups available, but none of them give you free reign to assign what you need to the button of your choice. The Alternate Setup #2 works fairly well for me; its very similar to the default control setup in the first Killzone. The main problem is that the reload and switch weapon commands (triangle = switch, square = reload) are backwards, with respect to the PS2 original. Considering I replayed the first game only a few days ago in anticipation of this one, this reverse and the inability to change it killed me unnecessarily a lot more than just a few times. What not give players an option like "Killzone (PS2) control configuration?" I got used to it after a few hours, but… I don't know. It just seems like a major oversight to me.

*My second complaint is with the way you're forced to use and acquire new weapons. When you start the game, you have a pistol with infinite ammo and an assault rifle. The catch comes from the fact that you can NEVER drop the pistol and you are only allowed to carry two weapons at a time. In the original game, you could carry up to three. Your inability to carry multiple guns can lead to some bad situations. You'll sometimes find yourself running AWAY from the enemy when you need another firearm than the one you've got, which breaks the intense hypnosis found in each battle. This is always a tedious chore, and a necessary one. To further complicate things, the "alt fire" isn't available either. In the first game, your default ISA assault rifle could also fire explosive rounds, and the Helghast rifle doubled as a shotgun. Each gun in the sequel has a single purpose, and you can only hold onto one at a time. This isn't only a shame because it destroys the game's fast pace in places, but it also discourages you from trying out new guns. Why bother trying out the Bolt Charger, grenade launcher or shotgun if you aren't sure there will be any ammo ahead or situations where the gun will be appropriate? Just like with the controls, the developers overlooked another aspect of the original that really should have been included.

*My last objection isn't much of an objection at all, just an annoyance. As you play through the game, you'll start to notice that there are points in each level where the game auto saves and sets up a checkpoint for you, just in case you die in the fights ahead. How is that a problem? It isn't, but the key word in that sentence is "notice." At every check/save point, Killzone 2 freezes for about .5 seconds to save, load or whatever. It doesn't affect anything when it comes to the gameplay, but the pause is very noticeable. In a game where the cutscenes and the game flow together so flawlessly, this seems like a problem that could and should have been addressed before the game was released.

So… think you can deal with those three shortcomings? If you can (and you should be able to), the action found on the Killzone 2 disc can and will blow you away like no game in recent memory. At its core, Kilzone 2 is another shooter in a market choked with similar games. Recent blockbuster shooters like Gears of War 2 and Resistance 2 seemingly nailed the shooter formula, but that was by the old rules. Killzone 2 rewrites the shooter book by eliminating something we all accepted as a standard limitation in these games – time to breathe. Since both Gears 2 and Resistance 2 were the most recent and praiseworthy shooters I played, I'll be using them as examples, FYI. In both those games, the "levels" were clearly set up. Move forward, finish off a wave or two of enemies, meet an objective, (maybe) fight a boss, rinse and repeat. Killzone 2 doesn't play by those rules.