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Killzone 2 is a shooting game that to some extent is aimed at combating the system selling success of the Halo franchise on the 360. Along with Resistance 2 PS3 it provides some of the most impressive first person visuals seen on a console to date.
Shooting games present a world in which the character must shoot their way out of dangerous situations. They provide the player with an array of weapons tailored to specific tasks. This unavoidably involves a combination of fisticuffs and gun based fighting that dictates the violent nature of these experiences. Beneath this harsh exterior though is often an intricate tactile game - and this is usually what drives the player.
Although Killzone 2 doesn't stray from the familiar first person shooting scenario, it does bring to the table a strong sense of squad tactics and team play. The extra horsepower available in Sony's machine means that they can get more computer controlled players in on the action. This is pressed home by some strong moments of interaction with your teammates - from getting a boost over a fence to pulling them up a ledge - that create a strong connection between the player and the game.
Additionally, Killzone 2 has long been the poster child of the PS3, and as such promised ground breaking visuals and game play. whilst the game mechanics themselves have been seen before, the quality and detail of presentation is certainly a big step forward.
The main campaign takes the player through the usual series of levels, interspersed with cut scenes. Whilst there is a degree of flexibility available, the general momentum of progression is quite directed. Most encounters have a clear way they are meant to be solved. Here, Killzone 2 struggles to match the sense of creative freedom of the Halo series. This aspect of the game also suffers from a sense that the enemies are somewhat scripted - simply cycling through preset actions rather than a thinking living enemy as made famous by Halo.
The game is by its nature violent, and plays through a pretty straight forward revenge narrative. The sense of place and story is surprisingly strong, something made all the more visceral by the glowing eyes of the gas masked Hellghaust enemies. Opening a door unexpectedly onto one of these characters is a scary thrill for players.
As well as the campaign players can get online to take part in the impressive arena battles. Again, although nothing new here, it is a confident demonstration of how well the PS3 can cope with large numbers of players spread around the globe. From lobby to battlefield the experience is smooth and attractive.
Players are attracted to the game through both the expectation and reputation of the PS3. Once playing, the lack of innovation is easily made up for by the adrenaline fueled game play and stand out visuals. As the game gets going players are drawn in by the in game cut scenes that move smoothly to player controlled segments. They realise the action has stopped and is waiting their direction. Taking up the controller soon has them picking off the glowing eyed enemies.
Excitement peaks with the various set piece encounters. As directions are shouted by team mates, and blood splatters their screen a heady mix of concentration and fear urges them forwards.
The game is divided into levels that need around 45 minutes to get through. Players can save at a variety of stages, although some progress may be lost if this is mid-battle. Online, matches can be configured to suit the available time. As with other games of this type you can muddle through the campaign learning as you go, but you will want to practise considerably before going online..
The nature of the game makes it a violent experience not suitable for younger players. The dark brood visuals of the Hellghast enemy are imposing and scary. This is offset somewhat by the hyperbole of their somewhat comedic over the top leader.
Parents who have offspring on the borderline of being old enough, will need to base their guidance on the fantasy nature of this experience (as opposed to real war games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare), the gore spattered violence and the lack of anything substantially being said in critique of the action. Older and more experienced players should enjoy the summer blockbuster roller-coaster ride of the campaign. Experts will be excited with the high class visuals and general swish presentation, although may find the simplistic AI a bit one dimensional. The greater emphasis on the squad may offset this to some extent, although those looking for the living breathing foe of the Elites and Brutes from Halo will be disappointed..
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