Review: Killzone 2

The Killzone series has become known for its tumultuous reputation within the gaming industry. Various controversies surrounding the franchise have arisen, which ultimately detract from the quality of the games. As one of the most significant exclusives for the PlayStation 3, its success is crucial in the ongoing competition between gaming consoles.
It’s unfortunate that Killzone 2 cannot be judged solely on its own merits, as it is burdened with the unfair expectations of devoted Sony fans. However, this game truly deserves to be evaluated independently, without any biased opinions.

Nevertheless, it’s out and we’ve been playing it until both we and the disc are exhausted. Read on for our full review.

Killzone 2 (PlayStation 3)
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony
Released: February 27, 2009
MSRP: $59.99
Check out an HD version of our video review on Youtube 

In the previous installment of the Killzone series, the ISA had managed to repel a Helghast invasion from Vekta, forcing the fascist regime and their leader, Scolar Visari, to retreat. Killzone 2 picks up the story with the ISA launching a retaliatory strike on Helghan to capture Visari. However, the mission quickly becomes more challenging than anticipated, and it falls to Sgt. Sev Sevchenko and his team of profanity-laced comrades to save the day.
Despite Killzone’s intricate backstory and depth, Guerrilla has consistently chosen to disregard these details in their games. Unfortunately, Killzone 2 follows suit by presenting a plot that is simplistic and prioritizes action over intellect. The protagonists lack individuality and are unrelatable, with their dialogue feeling forced and out of place. Conversely, the antagonists are far more likable, with Brian Cox and Sean Pertwee delivering memorable performances as Visari and General Radec, respectively.

Although the protagonists may be unlikable, the antagonists are a delight to watch. Their war cries, delivered with rough English accents through gas masks, are consistently entertaining, and their reactions during combat are a joy to witness. It’s unfortunate that Guerrilla didn’t utilize more skilled writers, as the Helghast are a remarkable creation that deserves a superior screenplay.
Although the plot may not be the main focus, the gameplay in Killzone 2 is anything but lackluster. It is weighty, cumbersome, and relentlessly gritty, offering a first-person shooter experience that can only be described as a challenging and rewarding “slog.” The battles are hard-fought and well-deserved, with players constantly moving from cover to cover while fending off waves of menacing space Nazis with red eyes. This creates an incredibly intense and immersive experience.
The solo player journey encompasses a diverse range of settings, including urban streets with a somber atmosphere, a military institution, a desert, a factory, and others. Additionally, players have the chance to operate vehicles like an ISA tank or mechanical suit. Although the primary gameplay revolves around taking cover and engaging in ranged combat, the inclusion of vibrant locations and occasional deviations from the norm add a sense of novelty to the experience.

The armaments in the game are in line with the overall tone, being substantial and rough, adhering to the “hard sci-fi” approach of plausible technology in an imaginative environment. Although many of the weapons are familiar, such as machine guns and shotguns, there are a few more innovative options available, including an electric cannon and a bolt gun, which can be highly enjoyable to wield. Regrettably, these unique weapons are not frequently encountered.
The solo campaign may be brief, but it offers a satisfying experience with several standout moments. However, Guerrilla understands that the multiplayer component is the main attraction and has created a robust system that rivals the best on the Xbox 360. By combining classic game modes with a comprehensive and engaging progression system, the multiplayer is both straightforward and captivating.
The multiplayer mode in KZ2 is intense and action-packed, accommodating up to 32 players per match. The game offers various gametypes, but the most popular is the fast-paced match that rotates through different objectives. These objectives include assassination, search & destroy, and deathmatches, all of which are executed well. The constant switching of gametypes keeps the gameplay fresh, although the cover system appears to have been disregarded for unknown reasons.

The promotion system in multiplayer is undeniably captivating. By accumulating points during matches, you can progress to higher levels and unlock additional perks. As you climb the ranks, you’ll gain the ability to lead groups of players, access superior weaponry, and discover new classes. The game truly comes alive when you begin to explore these classes. You can choose to become a medic and provide healing support to your teammates, or take on the role of an Engineer and construct powerful gun turrets throughout the map.
In addition to promotions, players have the opportunity to earn ribbons by completing specific tasks, which come with added benefits. For instance, the “Good Conduct” ribbon can be earned by achieving a score of at least twenty points in a match without receiving any penalties. If a player earns this ribbon eight times, they will receive a badge with an additional perk.
Guerrilla’s system is highly enjoyable and alters gameplay significantly. Although the classes do not differ significantly in combat style, the additional gadgets enhance the experience. However, earning specific ribbons and accumulating points can be a tedious process. Obtaining access to superior equipment can take a considerable amount of time, which may cause frustration for some players unless they are fortunate.
The control scheme in KZ2 is a contentious issue among players. The game’s weighty and sluggish feel may deter those accustomed to faster-paced action. Additionally, the button layout is unconventional, and the turn speed sensitivity is notably slow. Unlike other games, the default controls are unlikely to suit most players, and personal customization is necessary to find the optimal settings. However, once players become accustomed to the game’s mechanics, they should be able to perform well.

Killzone 2 is undeniably a visually stunning game, and arguably the most impressive console game available. Although I did observe a few physics glitches, the overall aesthetic production is of exceptional quality and effectively transports players into the game’s world. The sound design is also noteworthy, particularly the Helghast characters who are particularly captivating. However, the multiplayer mode lacks the lively battle cries that are present in the single player mode, which is a disappointment.
Killzone 2 is an exceptional console FPS that has provided me with an enjoyable gaming experience. In my opinion, it is the best of its kind to be released this generation. Although there are some flaws in the story and design choices, they are overshadowed by the excellent gunplay and intense action. If you own a PlayStation 3 and want to play an online game without paying for it, then this game is a must-have. I do not want to add to the hype surrounding this game, as it deserves to be appreciated for what it is. Killzone 2 is an outstanding game that stands on its own and does not need to be labeled as a “PS3 killer-app”.

Score: 9.5 — Superb (9s are a hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won’t cause massive damage to what is a supreme title.)