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E3 07: Killzone 2 - first look

Perhaps more than any other game at this point, Killzone 2 has been built up in the minds of Sony-watchers as the lynchpin of the PS3's success. This is almost entirely thanks to the infamous, stunning trailer that was shown during Sony's 2005 E3 press conference, which wowed fans senseless until they found it was just a pre-rendered video of what its developers thought it might look like.

Now that we've seen it played, however, no amount of Sony spin can hide the truth. And the truth is that Sony wasn't lying: Killzone 2, the game, looks shockingly close to Killzone 2, the trailer. And while it doesn't have quite the same level of polish, it makes up for it by being even crazier and bloodier than the early, imaginary look implied.

The demo we saw - played in front of us, with a Sixaxis controller, by one of the developers - was of Killzone 2's third level, and it began much the same way as the trailer did. Boxy, flying Intruder transport ships ferried small squads of good-guy ISA troops through a sea of rolling gray clouds, and the focus slowly pulled back to the first-person perspective of one of the soldiers (presumably Sev, the game's new hero) riding shotgun. Here, we got an excellent close-up look at the other grunts as they grumbled and swore at each other, and their faces were nearly as expressive and detailed as the ones from the trailer.

Like the trailer, however, the relative calm didn't last. Another Intruder pulled up alongside Sev's, and returning badass Sgt. Rico yelled commands at its occupants, something big hit it and sent it careening toward the vast cityscape below, trailing a column of flame as it went. Sev's Intruder avoided the flak long enough to land, at which point he was dumped right into the middle of an explosive, bullet-filled bedlam. Soldiers were everywhere - burning as nearby vehicles exploded, running for cover, shooting and screaming. And in the middle of it all were a pair of ISA officers, calmly poring over a map from behind the relative safety of a huge metal plate. From there, the mission was simple: kill as many of the gasmask-wearing, Nazi-like Helghast as possible, and take out their massive, lightning-powered antiaircraft gun while you're at it.

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