[Disclaimer: I am not a 360 fanboy. I recently hit level 5 on my PSN account, and most of my gaming time is spent on the PS3. The references I make to Halo are merely for comparison, and I want people to recognize that the Halo series does deserve genuine credit for the feature I refer to in this article (i.e. the aiming system)]
I'm in the KZ2 beta, and have been for the past month. But as of two weeks ago, I stopped playing it. The reason? I'm tired of the game already.
I've been trying to communicate what I am about to say here in the KZ2 Beta forums, but their forum signup script is so broken that I can't even post on the public forum. If anybody has access to their forum, please copy-paste, because if they somehow fix this critical issue before launch, KZ2 would indeed become the "Halo Killer" that we've all been waiting for.
First of all, let me just state how impressed I am with the game. It is POLISHED to a level that even the best Japanese games cannot match. It's not just the graphics either. The menus, the options (linkable squads?? wow...), the gameplay features, the leveling options... the attention to detail... Yes, KZ2 has delivered everything it promised back in 2005 (i.e. crazy graphics), and a hefty deal more.
There is no doubt that this game will sell at least a couple of million units during its launch month, just for its graphics. And by that standard alone, some people may call it a "massive success", and I predict there will be many articles suggesting that this game is "the next Halo".
But, in its current state, that will never happen for KZ2.
KZ1(PS2) had a serious flaw. Its aiming system was very primitive, and one would struggle to aim at any object on the screen. Yes, the game did look beautiful for the hardware it used (PS2), but at the end of the day, the game was nearly unplayable because of the aiming system (IMO, that is).
Let's face it. One of the reasons why Halo became so successful was NOT because it had multi-player. Rather, it was because Halo made playing FPSs with the console controllers viable, and enjoyable. (remember the days when people only played FPSs with a mouse?)
Most people do not know this, but Halo (and some recent titles like Resistance 2) has a very subtle aim assist engine built into its controls. What it basically does is to very very subtly attract your reticle toward an enemy, to make the last few 2-3 degrees of aiming easier. You can test this by standing still and letting an enemy walk in front of you. You will notice that your character will automatically turn slightly to follow that person. (this doesn't happen with friendlies)
The difference is huge, and you can actually feel the difference when trying to duel your own teammate in Halo. You will instantly notice that it's suddenly impossible to aim.
Now, is this cheating? Most definitely not. It is simply a feature that is necessary to compensate for the limitation of the joystick-based console controllers, and does not make the game itself easier. If anything, it brings it to equal level with the mouse-based controls.
But alas, KZ2 does not have this.
And this shows even in Guerilla Game's own demonstration of the game. Just watch the recent TV interview of Guerilla as they unveil their new weapon. If you're keen enough, you might actually notice how much this person struggles to shoot at the enemy (and these are AI-controlled NPCs which don't really move much at all; online opponents would be even harder to hit)
G4TV's KZ2 Street Date Announcement Video
Seriously, one should not need to make THREE attempts just to hit a target.
Not if he's played any type of FPS before.
I expect the immediate reaction to my criticism to be "L2P NOOB!", and to a limited extent, they would be right. But people who say that are missing the point. Yes, the hardest of hardcore players CAN get accustomed to this. I too got used to this after a couple of hours of playing (although it was still very frustrating). But I'm the exception here, because I've played every type of shooter that have come out since Wolfenstein 3D and Wing Commander.
However, in order for a game to become successful and have a 2-3 year long lifespan, it has to be easy to pick up, but difficult to master. If it's hard to pick up, and even harder to master, then you end up shutting out too many gamers from the game. And you end up playing only by yourself (and only few others online).
Of course, some may find this acceptable; to have your own game that only you can play. But I believe the best game is one that everybody can join (i.e. YOUR FRIENDS!), yet allow "the hardcore" to PWN every fool that joins the fray.
Again, KZ2, in its current form, will not be that game.
I obviously have not seen the sourcecode, so I would be lying if I claimed to know how easy this fix is. But I do know that this does not require an overhaul of the game. I am not complaining about the variety of weapons, selection of gamemodes or your teammates' AI. Or even the art direction of the game.
All I am asking is that the BASIC controls of the game be tweaked to make it WORK for the average gamer.
Because, at the end of the day, I do want this to be what KZ1 aspired to be but failed four years ago; The True Halo Killer.
KZ2 has the fullest potential to be just that.
EVERYTHING else is already in place.
Just fix the aiming, and this will be an easy 10/10, and played by gamers everywhere for years.
Otherwise, it could become the next GTA4; played by gamers for only 3-4 months, but completely forgotten by the time people choose the "Game of the Year".
I don't want that to happen.