You may have missed it since only a select few gamers were invited, but the Killzone 2 closed beta trial has been well underway and word is the first hands-on raises more questions than it answers. The past three years have seen hype swell around Killzone 2 like no other game before it, so the chance for Joe Public to get hands-on and vent some opinions was a brave move by Sony. Brave and confident.
The upshot is that online, Killzone 2 apes the successes of Call of Duty 4. And why not? In style, animation and core gameplay, Killzone 2 aims to emulate the best shooter of this generation. Quick flipping from a standard to a down-the-scope view works just as well as in CoD4, as does the sprinting and grenade cooking. Even the controls are mapped to CoD4’s setup. So the question is: what is Killzone 2 bringing to the online party that you can’t get in CoD4 or even its sequel, World at War?
The answer seems to be good looks. Guerrilla’s game engine is immaculate. The animation on the grenade cooking, although similar to CoD4, adds some neat touches such as a rising indicator light that shows you how ‘cooked’ the grenade is. Sure, this is aimed at newcomers to the FPS battlefront whose timing is still way off, but it’s a nice touch and this shows that Sony wants to encourage everyone to get involved.
The eight beta maps on offer are massively detailed and packed with hidden depths, sniper spots, vertical vantage points and tight interior spaces to battle through. Every level features real-time physics on the scenery, ensuring that these maps feel less like pre-rendered backdrops and more like living worlds. Make no mistake about it, this is an incredible achievement. The only gripe seems to be that everything is so grey. Killzone on PS2 featured some lush locations once you’d left the initial city battle zone, and included a swamp, snowy mountains and a finale on an orbiting space station. This sequel appears resolutely bound by its grey urban and brownish wasteland settings – which is a little disheartening.