Attack on Helghan
Rarely are the cases in video games where “you can have your cake and eat it too”. More times than not, you’ll get the utensils, but not the cake. In Killzone 2’s case, not only do you get everything you’ve been wanting, but things you didn’t even know you really wanted. What makes Killzone a stroke of genius for those that have been following the FPS scene? Simply put, it is the epitome of the modern FPS. In one game, you have the embodiment of the last decade or so of FPS development - making it a necessity for any PS3 gamer to have in their collection.
The first thing that blew me away about the game is the fact that the graphics are, quite simply put, the nicest ones I have ever seen. The game looks like it arrivced from a far off future where in-game graphics look like cutscenes and cutscenes look like real life - and while it doesn’t live up to the tech demo that was shown off when the PS3 was initially shown at E3, it is more than enough to keep any self-respecting graphics aficionado satisfied - the shadows play perfectly off the wall as you run by, smoke doesn’t look awkward, and fire looks much as it does in real life. Unlike other FPS games where they urge you to look at their set pieces by blatantly playing them out in front of you, Killzone allows you to view them the way you want - often in the background or off to the side, seamlessly integrated into the experience that they’re trying to sell you on.
I bought Killzone 2 expecting phenomenal graphics (after all, the demo was amazing), but what I didn’t expect to find is a story that would bring me in so deeply. Rather than go Call of Duty 5’s way of telling us that “war is hell”, the developers expect you to extract that from their subtleties and the fact that the story eeriely mirrors the attack on Germany following World War 2. Perhaps the best part about Killzone 2 is that you aren’t a super space marine (here’s looking at you, Halo), or for that matter, you aren’t anything close to being “super”, you’re just another grunt. As such, you can expect your squad to actually take care of enemies for you while not being a problem or making it not challenging enough.
I am a sound person, a self-described audiophile, and as such, I rarely find games that are so well designed sound-wise that I have to take notice. The last one was MGS4, which was a treat for my movie room experience - in 5.1, that game will simply sing, as bombs whiz by behind you, and the sound is truly surround. Playing from the very first level where you’re dropped on the beach near the first city you have to assault, the game takes you on a sound journey. And whether it be huge battlefield set pieces that you are thrust into or just the simple sounds that are associated with your movement, everything feels lovingly crafted and a terrific experience for those hoping to expand their surround sound experience.
Killzone 2’s multiplayer is a pleasure for all senses. As the game design is one of amazing graphics, the online multiplayer stands up to the same standards. While it is class-based, the experience is less intimidating than many other shooters that are currently available. The last time I cared so much about multiplayer, the game was called Halo. The matching is based on skill level and the level structures are not only gorgeous, but playing with one team being the ISA (the good guys) and one team being the Helghast (the bad guys), it’s clear who’s good and who’s bad. Furthermore, all types of games are integrated into a single play session. As you start the game, you may be playing deathmatch, but once the timer counts down, the objective may change to defense or to a CTF type game.
Overall, what makes Killzone 2 work astoundingly well is the simple fact that no detail was too small to be overlooked. One of the things I wanted most from Halo 2 when it initially came out was the ability to combo my melee attacks - it’s taken until Killzone 2 for this to become a reality. The small details of the game add up to be a triple A title that should be ignored by no one. So, if you’re a PS3 owner, drop this computer and go to your nearest retailer - it really is that good.