Then, there’s the business with Sev’s one-hit-kill knife that we reported earlier, which hasn’t been changed in the final version of the game. When you’re faced with a small squad of Helghast, no matter the difficulty level, it’s often easier to just run up and stab them all to death than it is to shoot it out with them. They usually don’t know how to deal with it and will almost always go down in one slash.
Thankfully, none of that is a problem in multiplayer, in which 32 players can pick a team and fight over eight medium-sized maps. Each lengthy match cycles dynamically between up to five customizable game types: Search and Destroy (base defense), Body Count (team deathmatch), Search and Retrieve (capture the flag), Assassination (one marked-for-death player must be defended or killed) and Capture and Hold (control points).
Cycling between these gives each match a sense of being an actual full-scale battle, instead of just an aimless skirmish. Moreover, the Call of Duty-like ranking system, which enables you to form squads and use job badges (medic, sniper, etc.) as you accumulate points, will go a long way toward helping you forget how much of a slog playing through five straight game types on the same map can be.
If you'd like to get some reward-free practice in before going online, there's also a skirmish mode that'll enable you to play with up to 15 bots, which are surprisingly smart even on the lowest skill setting.
Halo 3? That depends on what you’re comparing. If it’s the campaign, then absolutely yes; for all its flash and epic scope, Halo 3’s razor-thin plot and candy-colored weapons feel flimsy next to Killzone 2’s urban grit. On the other hand, its endlessly customizable – and endlessly fun – multiplayer modes ensure that Halo 3 hangs onto its 10 score when faced with Killzone 2’s more straightforward offerings.
Call of Duty: World at War? Yes, but it’s a tight race. Killzone 2 is prettier, its characters are more interesting and there’s very little trench-fighting, which is fine with us. Also, its flamethrower is substantially more useful than CoD:WaW’s.
Gears of War 2? No. This one’s going to raise a lot of hackles, but Gears 2’s extreme brutality, imaginative level design, over-the-top weapons and wealth of (admittedly buggy) multiplayer options still manage to surpass Killzone 2. Killzone 2’s a purer FPS experience, but even rifle-butting legions of Helghast into submission can’t compare with the singular thrill of melting monsters with the Hammer of Dawn.
Resistance 2? Yes. Resistance 2 might be a little more colorful, and the weapons are definitely more imaginative, but the pieces don’t gel into an interesting whole quite as well as Killzone 2’s, and the Chimera just aren’t as compelling an enemy as the Helghast.
So there you go. Although it’s not everything we’d hoped for, Killzone 2 does live up to most of its hype, and it’s unquestionably the most important PS3 game of early 2009. Throw in some obligatory collectibles (intel briefcases and breakable Helghast symbols), a wealth of Trophies and a couple of ridiculously difficult boss fights, and Killzone 2’s compelling story and tightly paced action (maybe a little too tightly paced) make it a game that no PS3-owning shooter fan should be without.
Feb 2, 2009