Saturday, March 7, 2009

Parappa the Rappa: Killzone 2 (PS3)

I am always sketchy about games that receive mountains of hype by faceless marketing departments in the lead up to their releases. Sure, the game looks pretty and we are promised oh so much for forking out the hundred or so from our already thin wallets for it, but most of the time these games turn out to be unpolished and uninspired. However, Killzone 2 has done the improbable by actually matching its own hype with stellar visuals and some of the most intense firefights in recent memory.

The plot of Killzone 2 is not exactly gripping, but then again it cannot be called garbage. All you really need to know is that the evil Helghast Empire is now on the defensive back-foot after the American accent-toting Interplanetary Strategic Alliance managed to repel their invasion of the planet colony Vekta from the first Killzone. As soon as you pick up the game you are thrown into the invasion of the planet Helghan in a D-Day inspired scenario crash-landing on a beach…if you could call it that. Helghan is far from a holiday resort with some genuinely menacing environments on offer adding nicely to the dark tone of war given off by the game; this is complemented further by the enemies sporting glowing red eyes and evil English accents wheezing through post-apocalyptic helmets and gas masks.

Combat is exciting and intense providing a great challenge throughout the game to the degree that you never get to the point of partaking in a spot of controller-discuss. The controls feel spot-on with great responsiveness while retaining the feeling of your character’s weight. By sticking with bullets over lasers, Killzone 2 avoids Halo’s fantastical sci-fi approach to weaponry in favour of raw grit, the result of which is a far more believable experience reminiscent of shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty. However in saying that special mention has to go to the electricity spewing gun and grenades that prove to be very useful for mechanical foes and provide humour in hearing your more fleshy enemies’ garbled screams. Killzone 2’s gamble with the inclusion of a cover mechanic pays off allowing you to reload and (briefly) plan your next move without becoming Swiss cheese. The game even makes use of the largely useless Sixaxis motion control system by using it to turn valves and plant C4 charges. While most of the time this feels well designed, there are a few moments when going from staunchly firing your gun to flailing and twisting your controller in the midst of battle makes you feel like a bit of a dork.

Outside of the main campaign, there is further evidence of Killzone 2’s greatness by the inclusion of a great online multiplayer with some great maps and modes. The set up of multiplayer is superb in that you do not necessarily have to stick with the bog-standard death match. Once an objective is completed, the game assigns a new mode seamlessly through radio commands, the result of which can have you scrambling around the map completing search and destroy-style missions for a few minutes before smoothly changing to hiding in a corner while your teammates protect you from being popped in assassination missions. Even if you do not have access to the internet, the team at Guerrilla have included a Skirmish mode teaming you up with and against teams of bots playing multiplayer missions which adds a lot of replay value to an otherwise linear game.

While the original Killzone on the PS2 was average, Guerrilla have finally got the formula right with a superb shooter that gives the 360’s heavyweights Gears and Halo a real run for their money and effectively puts the PS3 back on the FPS map.

4.5 stars

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