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The much hyped Killzone 2 delivered on its technical promises but failed to give me the gripping experience that its visuals deserve. Although I found the multiplayer an exciting and thrilling evolution of the genre, the singleplayer campaign was lacklustre and forgettable. Its characters and story were impossible to sympathise with and it served up a clichéd plate of FPS staples.
First of all there's no doubt that Killzone 2 is a tremendous looking game. But when it comes to FPS games then I'm willing to sacrifice visual quality for a stable and high frame experience. Even in a single-player campaign I want those instant and reactive controls that make the difference between virtual life and death.
But its long development time shows that I can have all the cake I want and stuff in my gob. I didn't see any of the usual frame-rate drops or dodgy textures I'd associate with an FPS game. No matter how many explosions, weapon fire or debris was being thrown onto the screen my experience was always smooth.
No matter how many explosions, weapon fire or debris was being thrown onto the screen my experience was always smooth.
And yet... I have problems. For a start the perspective on the story seems in a very odd place. I'm used to wading through hordes of bad guys and feeling no remorse or doubt about shooting them in the face. Ugly-looking aliens? No problem. Nazi's? Bullet through the head with no questions. But here? There's something not quite right.
Part of it is down the obnoxious attitude of your team-mates who behave in a disturbing and bloodthirsty way. All they seem to care about is killing the enemy and ending the war in the most brutal way possible. The other part of the problem is the complete lack of in-game story or narrative. This makes the war against the Helghan all but a mystery for someone not steeped in the lore of Killzone 2. As such I found myself wanting to turn my weapon on my teammates rather than charge headlong into more red-goggled ‘bad guys'.
For a long time I was willing to go along with this style of narrative as it seemed to suggest some ambiguity about the conflict. I'm all for smoke and mirrors and anti-war sentiments being brought up in games. After all, Call of Duty 4 had a few sobering moments interspersed with its usual shooting gallery style levels. But there's no trace of any moral centre to the game. By the time the plot turns the war into a personal experience for your character its impact is anadine and negligible.
I feel Killzone 2 has missed an opportunity to tell a meaningful story. In the end it doesn't even do a clichéd space opera tale particularly well.
Perhaps it was wrong to have expected some deep allegory to a real-world conflict but I feel Killzone 2 has missed an opportunity to tell a meaningful story. In the end it doesn't even do a clichéd space opera tale particularly well. Although there's a rich universe of lore available through Killzone.com that links up with the collectable Intel items strewn throughout the levels. The refusal to hint at this wider story makes me wonder what the point of the single-player campaign was.
Putting my lefty-liberal disappointment aside, the multiplayer part of the game (called Warzone) rekindled my heart for Killzone 2. Rather than stopping and starting modes and different maps like every FPS game before it, I was thrilled to see that Warzone had mixed everything together. Now the five game types play out dynamically over course of any one map. This subtle change made such a difference. Not only did it keep the matches flowing quickly and averting the boredom or fatigue I usually get, but it also made it additive as hell. Three to four hours of Call of Duty 4 or Team Fortress 2 tends to feel like a long arduous experience but in Warzone, time went past with dangerous ease.
Taking the usual ranking system now prevalent in multiplayer games, Warzone adds a new layer of class-based gameplay. This added a huge amount of depth that added more than I expected. Aside from Team Fortress 2 there's little variety on offer in FPS multiplayer games today. But with seven classes to unlock and the ability to mix two to suit my playing style I found Warzone a bit more engaging than the others I've tried. With all this variety on offer and a system in place that helps new players get into matches specifically designed for them, Warzone is by far the best FPS multiplayer I've played on any system.
But best overall FPS? No, not by a long shot.
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