Killzone 2 – hands-on

All too quickly our armor was blown off and the little guy sitting in the tank turret bit the dust. Spying another scripted event, we jumped onto the tank, taking control of the armoured beast. As you would expect, controls follow the Battlefield template, the left stick moves the tank, the right stick controls the camera, and R1 and R2 fire missiles and machine-guns respectively. The arcing tracer fire from the machine-gun looks incredibly realistic and like the guns in general, feels accurate when strafing; groups of Helghast in overhead gantry positions flailed satisfyingly as we sprayed hot orange bullets in their direction.

As an enemy tank drew up onto the battlefield, surrounded by even more Helghast troops, sparks flew as shells and bullets landed on masonry and steel, and we woke up to Killzone 2’s pull. This isn’t an original game; it’s CoD4 with Space Marines, but no other game has the ability to grab you by the throat and shake you so much. The experience equates to that first time you stormed the beach at the beginning of Medal of Honor: Frontline, or that moment following a battle in Bad Company as you glance back at your handy work to see smoke, fire and hole-filled buildings. You did that. You are a war machine.

Visible in the distance, Helghast reinforcements begin arriving in large numbers. In our immediate vicinity, our squad was going to work on the current Helghast ranks – the AI looking like it can take care of itself – and somewhere in the middle of all the smoke the Helghast tank was still going strong. Atmosphere seems to be Killzone 2’s biggest success. It has it in abundance. The game’s controls, missions and pacing all feel very familiar, but it’s all done with such panache that you can’t help get sucked into developer Guerrilla’s compelling vision of future war.

There are question marks over the level of scripted events. Guerrilla are masters of setting up the blockbuster set-piece battle, but is that enough? Can Killzone 2 better CoD4 online? The Badge system that enables you to customise character set-ups, creating hybrids of familiar classes such as Scouts, Engineers, Medics, etc. could prove revolutionary. And then there’s the four-player co-op campaign to look forward to. Now that really could be something special.

Sep 4, 2008