Killzone 2 Review: Pretty, Deadly, A Little Dull

The game play is standard, solid First Person fun, on par and in line with next-gen classics like Call of Duty 4 — not quite that good, but in the same ballpark. You run around massive, war-torn neighborhoods and shoot evil looking bald dudes in fetish wear. They're generally competent at fighting back, more through strength of numbers than any particular AI skill. There's a variety of weapons to use, different flavors of assault rifle, machine gun, grenade and rocket launcher, and so on. Your fellow space army guys all refuse to wear helmets and yell at you a lot (they have to yell to be heard over all the gunfire and explosions). It's everything you would expect from a modern first person shooter. And not a thing more. And I'm kinda tired of it.

There's no joy for me in Killzone 2. Not that I want hugs and flowers (for that I'll play Flower). I mean there's nothing, or at least very little, that's new. And I need a little something new to get sucked into this kind of game now. FEAR 2 had weird psychic shit and slow motion and mechs and a decent story. 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand had the fact that it was insane. Killzone 2 is just by the numbers. Us Earthling soldier dudes are gonna shot those Helghan soldier dudes in big fights that are tough as hell. We're going to yell at each other to fight on. Go here, blow up that, kill those, repeat. And here's the thing, that should be enough for me. But for some reason, with Killzone 2, it's just no. I just don't care anymore. I don't want to play it, I'm just making myself because I spent the money.

Let me take a moment here to bitch about something that's not unique to Killzone 2 — rather it's a standard element of all these games. You never start equipped with enough ammo to see yourself through a battle. This makes total sense from a gameplay perspective. Scarcity of ammo makes you think before you shoot, provides added layers of tactical decision making, and encourages swapping around and trying different weapons. All those things make for a better game. And yet it bugs me that I'm being sent into battle and there's pretty much no way to win unless I'm either a perfect shot or I drop my standard issue assault rifle and start using the enemy's standard issue assault rifle. Why? Because I'm killing enemies and they're dropping ammo for their guns. Most games work this way, and sometimes it makes sense (Dead Space, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune spring to mind), but here it just feels silly. It takes me out of the fiction of the game. As do the sometimes ridiculously placed weapons racks just waiting for me to stumble upon them. So does dropping into the battlezone on flying platforms without armor, roofs or seat belts, but now I'm just nitpicking. As for the weapons, I just kinda wish the makers of Killzone 2 (or any other game for that matter) would spend some time trying to come up with a more eloquent solution to this game play element.

To sum up, the single player Killzone 2 experience is utterly competent and probably a lot of people will have fun with it. Only someone jaded and bitter like me will grow bored and lose interest and think they should play 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand again instead. So maybe you shouldn't buy Killzone 2 for the solo game.

You should buy Killzone 2 for the multi-player. I don't know that there's a lot I need to say here, other than this is really great multiplayer fun. It's all team based, and it has the RPG-style experience system from Call of Duty 4 where the more you play, the more options for weapons and equipment you unlock. The teams are nice and big — 32 players, 16 to a side. And the new innovation is that over the course of one big multiplayer game, the map cycles through different game types — slightly tweaked versions of death match, capture the flag, king of the hill, and assassination. It's a neat idea, and the game makes it work perfectly. The cycling goals change up the action enough that you're never bored, and since most of them still revolve around blowing the other guys away, you're getting what you want from an online FPS experience. I'll probably never go back to the single player, but I'm seriously thinking of logging onto the multiplayer right now. If that's enough for you, Killzone 2 is probably worth your $60.

Killzone 2 is an expertly made, AAA video game. It's one of the best looking game I've played. The models and animations are fluid and life-like, the details gritty and immersive. This is just a flat out, no denying it, impressive visual experience.

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