Killzone 2 Review
After a long gestation period, the initial embryonic CG trailer that dropped jaws at E3 2005 finally has a chance for vindication. With a near half-decade incubation, there are a lot of questions for Sony’s first heavy hitter of 2009. Is the battle against the Helghast worthy of the hyperbole?
While there may be considerable back-story to mine from the first Killzone and its PSP cousin, 2 wastes little in ham-fisted exposition, instead immediately thrusting you into scenes of war and invasion with a tinge of red-eyed fascism. There are nods to the past games, with Jan Templar appearing, albeit non-playable, but there’s always a subliminal premonition of the epic battle looming mere meters away.
Taking on the role of Sev, an International Strategic Alliance, or ISA, Sergeant, you invade the planet Helghan in an attempt to remove its charismatic dictator, Emperor Visari. In the previous games he attempted an invasion of his own on the ISA planet of Vekta, so there’s no shortage of motivation. You’re a grunt, not messed up in the politics, and it’s clear cut who the bad guys are, though it’s easy to get a little swayed by Visari’s bellicose speeches delivered by the excellent voice acting of Brian Cox.
It’s a simple story with a little something going on in the background coupled with some smart in-game situations and the obligatory handful of twists. It’s basically generic action movie 101, but it keeps things simple and accessible. Some of the foul language from squadmates can be a bit misplaced and gratuitous, but the story is enough to drive you through.
Killzone 2’s campaign offers a 10-hour trudge through the best the Helghast have to offer. Levels are divided into missions with various objectives, and an easy tap up on the D-pad will show you which way to proceed. Despite spending most of the game with comrades, there’s no co-op option, which is a disappointment.
Objectives will often have you paired up with another ISA soldier or sometimes a whole squad, and while they won’t steal too many kills, they’re far from cannon fodder. At least the enemies are often as intent on killing them as they are in killing you, which isn’t the case in a lot of games. Not to say they won’t rub you the wrong way at times.
Other times, Sev goes it alone. Things would be impossible if it weren’t for the old standby, the exploding barrel. The game doesn’t necessarily feel clichéd for it, but if there’s one big ding it’s that Killzone 2 doesn’t feel all that fresh.
The Helghast invasion loans itself to replaying. After beating a level you can jump to any section within it, and there’s tons of stat tracking to improve, collectables to find and trophies to be earned that don’t affect the game itself, which earns our kudos. A mission that may have dogged you the first time, can take on another light on replay, allowing you to stretch your tactical know-how. Even the lackluster early missions gain appeal.
Killzone 2 runs the gamut of shooter objectives: clear areas, man turrets and tanks, stand your ground, and blow things up. You also take on bosses that are sometimes bullet sponges and sometimes a bit more puzzling. You get hints barked at you almost immediately, which removes some of the experimentation--or trial and error--depending on your taste. The first couple levels are slow burners, but the pace picks up towards the second half of the game with some great set piece scenarios.