The media has this habit of creating large amounts of hype, It is rare for a game to live up to the hype created for it, killzone 2 is no exception. However, that isn't saying the game is bad.. far from it.
I have put off this review for a while now, I have had the game since 2 or 3 days before the official release and have played it ALOT. I had the online beta and i knew from then that this would be, for me one of the best online FPS games on the current generation of consoles.
So, after 72 hours of online play time - what do I think of the game?
This is the best looking game i have played on a console, at least from a technical aspect. The lighting, particle effects, physics, bullet reactions from enemies, animations, wind that will effect real objects - the game has EVERYTHING.
The game uses a special technique in their engine to allow hundreds of TRUE light sources in one single level, with even the lights on the ISA's armour and the helghasts eyes being true light sources. A large majority of the games today don't employ an engine that can handle this technique - so most games only have around 10 - 20 light sources in a level.
The particles are all 100%, fully 3D and have real physical properties to them, the animations are smooth, life like and really well thought out. The enemy Ai will react in real time to every bullet you fire at them with incredible realisim. The attention to detail is amazing, with even your characters, both offline and online leave footprints on the floor.
While the art style may not be your thing, it is hard to deny the technical excellence.
Killzone 2 has a fully original soundtrack with incredible sound effects and design. Each gun has a great, unique sound to them, they sound real, everything from the bullet leaving the gun to the shells dropping on the floor.
The game supports true 7.1 HD surround sound, the sound is 100% 3D depending on your direction, the sound will change speakers to simulate how it would sound in real life. Some media outlets who analysed the sound technology had claimed killzone 2 "sports the best 7.1 digital surround sound technology in the industry".
So it is safe to say, the sound lives up to the very high bar set by the graphics.
You get it, killzone 2 is a technical masterpeice - but does that really matter? How does the game actually play?
Well, very differently to most popular shooters today. The deep, visceral gameplay is great. There is a new first person cover system in the single player campaign which is the key in the campaign. This isn't your typical run and gun game offline, you will need to stop - take cover, kill a couple of enemies and progress forward. Think Gears of War in first person.
There are one or two problems with the cover system when you initially pick it up, I'd personally say the way they implemented the controls for the cover system could of been refined a bit more but that is all - I got used to them after the first mission.
Your character has a real weight to them, it isn't a fast paced game offline, it isn't your typical twitch shooter. Online, the game takes on a quicker pace. Your movement is slightly quicker and there is no cover system.
This is not killzone 2's strongest point. It is your typical generic storyline with your typical generic characters, but as i mentioned in my gears 2 review - I won't take too many points from a game like this for that due to the nature of the game.
Basically, you're the ISA - in killzone 1 the helghast invaded the ISA's planet (vetka) - the ISA defeated them and they retreated back to their home planet (Helghan). In killzone 2, it is the ISA's turn to invade helghan to take on the helghast leader, Visari.
Character development is lacking, there was no real connection - so i think that is something that needs improving on a possible sequel. The dialogue seems forced at times and the voice acting is just average.
However, there is one big exception to the average forced dialogue - this is Visari. Brian Cox is Visari's voice actor and does an amazing job, he gets into the character very well - the dialogue is exceptional, the dialogue and voice acting alone probably make Visari one of the best dictators in video game history.
This is the best part of killzone 2 - as i mentioned at the top of this review, I have spent over 72 hours online. This is the best online FPS (keyword: online) game I have played on the current generation of consoles.
The class system is huge, with 7 classes - 6 of them unlockable. Each class has one primary and secondary ability. The primary ability is unlocked as soon as you unlock that class, however the secondary abilities have to be unlocked by performing a certain task a certain amount of times in a gain to earn a ribbon. These ribbons go towards the badge that unlocks the secondary ability, you must unlock 8 of each ribbon to unlock the badge.
There are a few problems that need to be ironed out which occur on the larger servers. However, I play mostly on private matches so my experience may be different. The online play can be very tactical or just chaos, the team that uses the classes correctly will ALWAYS win over the team that just goes around doing as they wish.
The game supports up to 32 players, each server created is hosted on Sony's own servers - there are no player hosted games, so lag is very, very rare. In the beta, I could play on a japanese server and suffer from no lag at all, apart from the occasional kill delay.
There is too much for me to explain about the online, all i'm saying is that I love it and the few problems that people complain of are things that don't cause problems, personally for me that plays in large private matches. But I'm sure they will be sorted out somewhere down the line.
The game looks amazing, very well designed, has a good campaign mode with an incredible Multiplayer offering. Twitch shooter fans may not like this, I love other games such as call of duty which is probably the most popular twitch based shooter at the moment, but i enjoy killzone 2 too - so don't be put off by what I said.