Games for Lunch: Killzone 2
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Feb. 27, 2009
ESRB Rating: M
Official Web site
0:01 This game can be played in 13 different languages?! Ye gods!
0:02 "My people, sons and daughters of Albion (I think), this much I vow, the history of these days will be written in black. By crushing the armies of our enemy, by seizing the weapons they thought to turn against us, we were fighting for our very existence. If there are those that would deny us peace ... then we will unleash such terrible vengeance that generations yet unborn will cry out in anguish." Zoom out from the shot of the ashen-faced speaker to military men watching the speech on a screen. The second wave of a human invasion fleet is launching, and is due to arrive at the alien planet in two weeks. The soldiers walk outside, and the camera zooms out to show huge rocket launch towers. Soaring John Williams-style music plays as we zoom way out to a high-up view of Earth. "They started this war when they invaded Neptune ... it's up to us to conclude it."
0:05 Pan across a spaceship and then down to the battlefield on a brownish alien world. "The enemy may shatter our bodies, but they cannot break our spirit. Even now they advance on our homeworld to take by force what they cannot claim by right. We will SMITE the invaders from our skies." I think this is the Helghast leader ... good voice acting, whoever it is. Humans are getting gunned down left and right. "Fighting as one hand, one heart, one soul. We will shatter their dream and haunt their nightmares. ... As we rise again from the ruins of our cities, they will know than Helghan belongs to the Helghast." Well, the similar names were a clue.
0:07 What? The cut scene is over. Finally!
0:09 The campaign difficulties are Recruit, Trooper and Veteran, for players with "Little," "Some" or "Lots of" FPS experience, respectively. There's a fourth, locked level ... for those who do nothing BUT play FPSes, I guess. Trooper for this guy.
0:10 This minute spent loading the Corinth River. "After a two-week journey, Alpha Squad has joined the ongoing invasion." There's more backstory on the screen, but the loading finishes before I can read it.
0:11 In a cut scene I step out of a sleeping pod and trundle over to a mirror, yawning. I'm very stubbly. "Come on, Sev, let's go. Time for us to deploy," says another soldier who pokes his head in. We're called to the launch bays and I follow the guy down the skyway. We briefly meet Evelyn, a scientist tracking stolen nukes. She starts talking, but we've gotta run. What a waste of a potentially interesting character. Very nice animation on the guy in front of me as he sprints and leans into turns down the hall.
0:14 "Hey, come on you two, I don't got all day. I gotta get home in time to tuck Garza's momma in. Hahahahaha," says an unseen commander. Then it's cut scene time again. More military tough guy blather -- reminds me of Gears of War, and not in a good way. "It's their planet this time." We're on a floating platform thing. A bunch of missiles fly out from our floating towers. "Man, that's gotta send a message," says a soldier. "Man, I live for this shit," says another. As we drop to the ground, Tower of Terror-style: "Holy crap ... have you ever seen this shit before." Now we're in the water, approaching the beach like it's Normandy. "This is fucked up," says a fucked-up voice actor. We crash on the gravelly beach. "Move, move, move!" And I'm in control again. That was ... extremely generic.
0:17 As I run to the rendezvous point, my teammates take out all the enemies before I even get a chance. I'm told to get an RPG launcher and take out a bridge. Before I can find it, the turret fire from above takes me down. I'm thinking I may have chosen the wrong difficulty level...
0:18 Given new life, I destroy the bridge simply by shooting at a big boxy thing on it. Huh? What about the RPG?
0:19 Reinforcements float in just as we reach some tanks. I throw a few grenades but they come up short. I try to advance through the low barriers to get a better shot, but I'm dead again. Wow, I suck.
0:22 I'm a bit smarter about the firefight this time, planting behind one barrier, zooming in with the crosshairs, and waiting for a head to pop up. The graphics are nuts ... I love the bullet holes that show up on the cement as I fire. Great smoke effects on the dust and such that gets kicked up, too. As for the gameplay ... pretty depressingly familiar so far...
0:24 I just shot one of my own guys in the face, just to see what would happen. On the plus side, he died, so that's realistic. On the minus side, none of my comrades react in the slightest to this friendly fire incident.
0:25 Garza and I got sent off to open a floodgate or something for some reason ... I wasn't really paying attention.
0:26 The game says "Hold R2 to cook grenades." So I do, watching as the grenade charges up and EXPLODES IN MY HAND. Hey, is it my fault the game didn't tell me to throw it?
0:27 I rush in and try my close-combat attacks, like the game suggests, but I barely graze the guy before he takes me down. I definitely chose the wrong difficulty.
0:30 It takes me way too long to work through a room with two guys turtling behind some cover. I'm afraid to go in for the close kills because of what happened last time. I get over it, and things go much better this time around.
0:32 "Cover me while I hack this control box," Garza says. The assault rifle I picked up makes this relatively easy ... until I run out of ammo. Then I'm stuck with my pistol. Luckily, the guys I'm defending against are around a corner from the control box, so they can't hit Garza.
0:34 I'm a bit annoyed that I can only carry one weapon at a time. What if I want the assault rifle AND the rocket launcher? Huh? What then?
0:35 Oh, dear lord ... to open the floodgate I have to turn the Sixaxis controller as if I'm turning a valve. Why does Sony shoehorn this stuff into otherwise serviceable games? It doesn't make the experience more realistic; it just makes it more annoying...
0:37 "Floodgates are open, I repeat, floodgates are open." Our reward for a job well done? We get to double back and cover the rest of the team from above. Whoopee.
0:40 "Collect intel documents to unlock exclusive content on killzone.com." Way to break the fourth wall there, game.
0:42 I'm really not impressed with the cover system so far. I can crouch behind small barriers somewhat automatically, but juking around corners has to be done totally manually, as far as I can tell. Also, the high inaccuracy of most weapons is getting annoying. It might be realistic, but it's not very fun.
0:44 So I take out some rocket-launching Helghast with a rocket launcher of my own, but when it's out of ammo I'm stuck with just the pistol. That's OK ... I work my way back and kill a guy on a turret gun, then take it over for shooting gallery time! This is the most fun I've had with the game so far.
0:45 I just shot another one of my own guys, with the turret this time. My commanding officer could not care less, apparently.
0:47 In some tunnels now, where close-quarters combat kicks up a lot of beautiful smoke with each shot. Garza steps in my line of fire. "Hey, shoot them, not me!" Well, at least SOMEONE cares about friendly fire...
0:48 I love the way the enemies cringe and spin as I hit them with bullet after bullet. One even loses his helmet! I also like how I can tap a button and have the game show me where I'm supposed to go next.
0:49 A floating convoy comes through and gives us some missile support. The pilot jaws a bit with Garza about buying "a cold one" when this mission's through. Then they promptly crash and die. D'oh.
0:50 I just pumped so much turret lead into a building that it literally FELL OVER. I feel like I'm on "Mythbusters" or something. "See that?" asks one soldier. "See it? I was damn near under it!" adds another.
0:51 Oh, I guess it's time for the predictable, tug-at-the-heartstrings shot of a crawling survivor being shot to death by something unseen around the corner. Yawn.
0:55 This section where I'm taking out guys with rocket launchers seems terribly familiar. Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah ... 10 MINUTES AGO!
0:56 I pop an RPG-carrying Helghast from the side with two shots. He ignores me and continues training on some other targets below. Now that's realistic AI!
0:57 So there's a turret laying down an impassable line of fire here, but I manage to get by when the guy firing gets up and moves to another turret for some reason. Fine by me!
1:01 I just got a Trophy for "killing 30 Helghast with an emplaced weapon." I think that'll be my first and last Trophy on this game, though.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.
Why? Despite the amazing presentation, it's still a pretty by-the-numbers FPS so far, and I'm not enough of a genre fan to suffer by-the-numbers.
This column is based on an early review build of the game provided by the publisher.
Read Scott Jones' Killzone 2 review.
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