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Critical Reception: Sony/Guerrilla's  Killzone 2

Critical Reception: Sony/Guerrilla's Killzone 2

February 25, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

February 25, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Console/PC, Columns



This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Sony's anticipated first-person shooter sequel Killzone 2, which reviews describe as "a fantastic addition to the PS3 catalogue." The title currently earns a score of 91 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

David Ellis at 1UP.com gives Killzone 2 a grade of A. "Killzone 2 is a visual powerhouse that offers a grounded and 'realistic' take on futuristic warfare," he begins. "From fighting your way through shantytowns while lightning storms rage overhead to avoiding sniper fire during vicious dust storms, brutality has never been this beautiful."

Ellis praises Killzone 2's strategy-oriented gameplay, in particular. "Beyond its good looks, Killzone 2 is a game of strategy that rewards tactical decisions and careful aim," he notes. "Playing it as a run-and-gun shooter is a quick way to get killed; correct use of cover grenades is necessary as the Helghast are constantly trying to flank and bring overwhelming firepower to bear on you and your fellow soldiers."

Ellis feels that while game's AI teammates perform adequately, the lack of cooperative play is disappointing. "It would have been nice to play co-op with friends," he admits, "and your squad mates are walking stereotypes (hotheaded heavy machine gunner, easygoing tech guy, etc.), but their playful and delightfully vulgar banter serves as a respite from the dark urban environments early in the game."

Despite the abundance of first-person shooters glutting the market, Ellis finds that Killzone 2 remains noteworthy and worthwhile. "Shooters have replaced fighting games as the most over-saturated genre in gaming today," he writes, "and it's increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. However, with its unparalleled graphics, incredibly well-paced single-player campaign and in-depth multiplayer offerings, Killzone 2 has established its place among top-tier console shooters."

Game Informer's Matt Miller rates Killzone 2 at 8.75 out of 10. "With the exception of its stunning graphics, Killzone 2 doesn't do a whole lot that you haven't seen before in other titles," Miller admits. "But what it does do, it does with aplomb."

Miller finds that Killzone 2 is action-packed throughout, though the pacing sometimes suffers as a result. "The campaign never ceases overloading your senses with constant action, and the chaos outdoes most games on the market," he praises.

"Simultaneously, there's a disregard for any sense of pacing in the gameplay," Miller continues. "It's hard for that exploding building to have much 'wow' effect when another building just exploded 10 seconds ago. Still, it's hard to level too much criticism at an action game for having too much action."

Miller is similarly conflicted with Killzone 2's multiplayer aspect. "The strong multiplayer game plays out across sprawling levels ā€" it's clear that Guerilla envisions large-scale conflicts as their bread and butter," he notes. "Objectives are constantly shifting, from demolition tasks to assassination targets to straightforward deathmatch scenarios."

However: "Static spawn points are a real drag during some objectives, when a single death sends you back for another two-minute run to get back into the fight. Even so, the PvP combat is solid and engaging, and a robust class and leveling system equals any of its competitors."

"Killzone 2 is a fantastic addition to the PS3 catalogue," Miller concludes. "It makes good on the promise of its original unveiling nearly four years ago through unceasing action and breathtaking visual fidelity. It doesn't change our level of expectation for all first-person shooters, but it does give us all a good reason to keep playing them."

Edge Magazine's staff gives Killzone 2 a score of 7 out of 10. "If Dead Space shows just what can be gained when you approach the familiar with a mind to making changes," the review begins, "Killzone 2 shows just what can happen when you don't."

Edge's staff notes that Killzone 2's narrative is one of its biggest weaknesses. "Without the first game's ambiguities, a sense of humour or even an ounce of intrigue, its story stinks," the staff writes.

The review continues: "It's so slight you could play the levels in random order to little ill-effect, and it assumes knowledge of everything and everyone, not once recognising the real-world echoes of its premise: an allied invasion of an enemy the allies themselves created. Instead, it settles for the opening act of Starship Troopers via Aliens and Saving Private Ryan."

The team mechanics also suffer, according to the review. "The fraught team dynamic is gone, as is Killzone's neat trick of having a Helghast operative fighting by your side," Edge's staff says. "The dialogue is functional, the motives obvious."

Edge finds that the game is best enjoyed in its multiplayer modes, however. "Freed of its narrative shackles," the reviewer writes, "Killzone 2's deathmatches openly celebrate the tight controls (jumping now included), hand-made environments and technical beauty of a game that is, almost exclusively, about popping someone in the face or blowing them to kingdom come."

"Thanks largely to its online play, Killzone 2 should find itself a fanbase no one can overlook," Edge's reviewer notes in conclusion. "In singleplayer, it's a testament to craft and imagination, if only because one is so immaculate while the other barely exists. It fights a great battle, it's just a shame about the war."


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