Killzone
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Guerrilla
Genre
FPS
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Strong Language, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Nice design
• Intense action
• Multiple players to choose from
• Excellent multiplayer

The Bad

• Repetitive enemies
• Game engine needs more power
• Long load times

 
Grade
B

Halo killer - there, I said it. Why not? Everyone else has. Especially the prerelease hype, which all but doomed Killzone to sit in Master Chief's shadow. Be sure to understand that Killzone is not a Halo clone. Killzone is about a handful of average soldiers being forced into working as a team as they fight through a war-torn world, often engaging in street warfare just to get to the next location.

The game begins after the Helghan invasion of of Vetka. ISA forces have been vainly in heavy combat on Vetka, but the powerful Helghan forces has left a brutal impact on the populace. The game begins with the players taking on the role of Captain Jan Templar, who fights his way back to where General Vaughton is stationed. The General sends Templar on a mission to rescue a spy, and during the process of said mission, Templar picks up three additional playable team members. From this point, this mini-squad must take on missions in reaction to the events that play out in the story.

Over the first few areas, you're only in control of the standard trooper, Templar, but as you pick up more allies, you'll get your choice of team member at the beginning of each mission. The four team members play differently and have various bonuses and detriments. Luger has heat vision, Hakha can sneak up on Helghast, while Rico is the all around heavy gunner who can take additional punishment. The action in Killzone is broken up into levels, which are further separated into sublevels. While each level features the occasional checkpoint, players can only save at the end of each stage. Rather than a seamless gameworld, Killzone's stages are broken up by lengthy load screens.

The core gameplay of Killzone is your standard FPS fare, though you will find more of the game will be spent fighting behind cover to minimize your damage. A lot of running from cover to cover should be expected. To this effect, you have a sprint button that will lower your weapon and allow you to run a short distance. You'll have primary and secondary fire (on most weapons) and even grenades to your disposal. If you get in close, you can perform a melee attack to disarm and take out your opponent.

While there is no ability to jump, you will find the occasional barrier that you can leap over. Along your path, you'll often find gun and cannon emplacements. With the tap of a button, you can use that firepower to your own. But, considering the legions of Helghast that come after you, the most heavy ammo you can drop, the better.

While Killzone does feature a variety of weapons, there is some imbalance in terms of stopping power. With only three weapons a player can have on hand, it won't take long for players to figure out what they should keep on hand. The assault rifle is pretty solid, but never has enough ammo. On the other hand, the Helghast assault rifle takes way too many bullets to drop an enemy. The shotgun has a long reload time, which almost negates it's usefulness. Of course, there's heavy ordinance to be found and abused, including grenade launchers and a rocket launcher.

Along with the main story are both online and standard multiplayer modes. Both provide extra enjoyment, but are dependent on the quality of your opponents. Fortunately, there's more of an arcade-like element to the multiplayer, allows for faster, more furious gunbattles. Of course, you can always try to play it more like the story missions, but with so many good weapons being spawned, why bother?

Visually, Killzone has a wonderful art direction that works to deliver a solid and believable gameworld. The Helghast are successfully presented as an intimidating Nazi/Jin-Roh hybrid that the player must push on through. The game world does a fine job at setting up real world locations, whether they be war ravaged streets, a park, a swamp or soldier-infested docks. Levels are laid out in such a way that most of the scenarios provide both challenge and a certain level of intensity. From a technical standpoint, though, Killzone is pushing the PS2 for all it can get and still could use more power. While there is a lot of minor details, the limited color palette and repetitive and low-res textures wash out many locations and even leave some areas feeling quite repetitive. You'll also find a serious lack of enemy variety will leave you feeling like you're killing the same foes over and over again. I have to wonder if Killzone was on a brawnier unit, would the levels have more visual detail and larger? Would there be more enemy types and would the draw distance be longer?

The audio portion proves to be a solid augment to the visual portion. Music is nicely done and works with the futuristic military theme of the story. Sound effects have a good bit of variety and range, especially in the gun sounds and explosions. In the story sequences, the voice cast (including Kal Webber, Tom Clarke Hill and Brian Cox) does a good job with the script they're given. During gameplay, though, their comments are limited and can get old pretty fast. Even worse is that the Helghast have even fewer comments, so killing them by the score isn't made better by the the repetitious comments.

Is Killzone a bad game? Not really. There is certainly a good time to be had here, but it really depends on what you have available to you. If you have access to a PC or Xbox, Killzone pales in comparison to other titles already available. If all you have is a PS2, then Killzone is likely one of the best games the genre will offer you right now. With a little more power for the engine and more refinement, this could have been a great game, but there is still a good time to be had here.

- - Vane

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