Killzone 2 vs 2008's best shooters

In a little over a month, one of the great burning questions of the current-gen console war will be settled: Does Killzone 2 live up to the hype that Sony started when it unveiled that infamous “target footage” at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo? For that matter, is it any good at all?

To help answer these questions (and pour a little more fuel on the fire), we’ve decided to pit Killzone 2 directly against three of last year’s biggest shooters: Gears of War 2, Resistance 2 and Call of Duty: World at War (Left 4 Dead, meanwhile, was judged simply too awesome to participate). To ensure a fair comparison, we’ve assembled a debate team consisting of Mikel Reparaz (defending Killzone 2), Charlie Barratt (Gears of War 2), Paul Ryan (Resistance 2) and Chris Antista (Call of Duty: World at War). All four editors have played (and in some cases even enjoyed) all four games, and are now primed and ready to rip each other to shreds.

Why Killzone 2 will be better: After a couple of years spent comparing PS3 and 360 versions of multi-platform games, we’ve noticed one recurring issue: 360 games tend to be slightly sharper, with a greenish tinge, while PS3 games are slightly blurrier, with softer lighting and more orange hues. Gears 2 and Killzone 2 have the same issues, but each game is built with its system’s strengths and weaknesses specifically in mind. Gears 2, then, is extremely crisp, but it doesn’t have the raw, organic feel that Killzone 2’s blighted environments do. All those grays and browns add up to make planet Helghan look thoroughly blasted, both by war and its own weather. It’s ugly, but it’s richly detailed, weathered ugly. It’s appropriate for a war game. In Gears 2, meanwhile, everything looks pretty to the point that it’s almost plastic.

And then there are the actual characters, who are rendered with about the same level of detail in both games. In Killzone 2, however, they’re proportioned like normal men, not linebackers. They’re also capable of displaying a range of emotions beyond “grimacing,” “grimacing meaningfully” and “grimacing while grunting meaningfully.”

- Mikel Reparaz, Senior PlayStation Editor

Why Gears of War 2 is better: You’re right – Gears of War 2 is pretty. A next-gen game actually managed to transform that ubiquitous gray-brown palette into something both unique and pleasing on the eye. Is that a bad thing?

Personally, I appreciate the occasional dash of color or splash of sunshine in my bleak, apocalyptic sci-fi shooters. When you glimpse a picturesque mountain village sparkling on the horizon, or notice the intricate architecture of a crumbling city, you’re reminded of what the universe might look like if humans and Locust weren’t so busy tearing each other apart. Yes, Gears of War 2’s visuals are beautiful, but poignantly and hauntingly so.

Killzone 2 isn’t ugly. The visuals are something far worse – generic. I couldn’t tell one war-torn landscape or dilapidated warehouse from the next. Same goes for the normal (i.e., forgettable) characters. Marcus and crew may be comically inflated, but at least they stand out from the crowd.

- Charlie Barratt, Senior Microsoft Editor

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Marcus grunts a lot, Dom wants to find his wife, Baird is a whiney asshole, Cole is a one-note stereotype and Carmine is just whiling away the hours being earnest and awkward until he’s Locust chow. Did I miss anything? Was there any subtle character development I’m overlooking? The characters in Gears are walking action figures, and despite the best efforts of the designers, it’s difficult to really care when bad things happen to them. Same goes for the setting – did Jacinto ever really feel like a city on the edge of civilization? In the end, was there ever really a sense that you were in a desperate struggle for the survival of the human race? What was really at stake?

Killzone 2 isn’t that much better, but it’s helped along by its characters having at least a second dimension. Your squad depends on you; there’s a real sense that they’re actually pretty vulnerable, even though they can soak up bullets like sponges. The world is more believable (not too surprising, since Killzone has always taken its inspiration from World War I and II, rather than from traditional sci-fi), and the characters’ personalities go through noticeable, permanent changes as the game progresses and horrible things happen. Oh, and the enemies can actually speak to each other in multi-word sentences. That makes a difference. - Mikel

Why Gears of War 2 is better: While Marcus, Dom, Baird and Cole’s personalities can be summarized in a few phrases, that’s exactly what makes them so iconic. They’re superheroes – gritty, foul-mouthed, rough-edged superheroes, but superheroes nonetheless. Just as we adore Superman for always being a no-nonsense square or Spider-Man for always being a witty smartass, we love Marcus for his world-weary grunts and Cole for his stereotypical raps. Given the choice, I’ll play with the Gears 2 action figures and not the Killzone 2 everydudes.

As for setting, which game enables you to cut a giant worm’s bloody and beating heart out of its body from the inside? Case closed. - Charlie

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Well, it’s first-person, which makes a big difference for some people and means you don’t have to zoom in with the “aim” button just to draw a steady bead on your targets. If you’re in a tight spot, slashing dudes with your knife – or just rifle-butting them in the face – will get you out a lot quicker than a chainsaw bayonet will, albeit less gruesomely. And although a lot of people are guaranteed to bitch about how you have to hold down the crouch button in order to stick to cover, being able to flatten yourself against crates and peek around the edges works surprisingly well, and it avoids the old “I meant to run ahead but instead just pirouetted to another cover point and now look I’m being sawed in half” issue common to Gears. - Mikel

Why Gears of War 2 is better: Guess what. I’m one of those people that is guaranteed to bitch about how you have to hold down the crouch button in order to stick to cover. It’s awkward, painful and, thanks to the PS3’s spongy trigger button, often impossible. The thing will just slip out of your grip sometimes, instantly exposing you to enemy fire.

The real problem, though, might be the first person view. After all, the Rainbow Six Vegas series also asks you to hold down a button to take cover, but makes that design choice work by switching to a third person perspective. In that game, as in Gears of War 2, I can clearly see my position in relation to the rest of the environment.

In Killzone 2, I can see a wall. Or a crate. Or, basically, the blank surface of whatever I’m hiding behind. Until I pop my head out, I won’t know exactly where the enemies are located. Realistic? Maybe. Fun? Ehh. - Charlie

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Your squadmates are really an integral part of Killzone 2 – so much so that it’s surprising that co-op wasn’t included in the final game. They’ll watch your back, help lift you over obstacles, point out enemies and – most important of all – soak up bullets. Your squadmates in Gears, meanwhile, don’t do much except revive you when you’re down.

The Helghast, meanwhile, are a lot more believable than the bulky Locust, and they’re slightly smarter (except when confronted by charging, knife-wielding maniacs). They’ll blind-fire from behind cover, run from grenades, gang up on you and retreat if it looks like you’re getting the upper hand. And while the Locust do a lot of that, too, it comes down to what’s scarier: a few lizard-faced albino thugs, or massed death squads with gasmasks and glowing red eyes? - Mikel

Why Gears of War 2 is better: For the “friends” side of the argument, I’m tempted to point out the difference in co-op and declare myself (er, Gears 2) the automatic winner. One game has none. The other - even when compared to new contenders like Left 4 Dead, Resistance 2 and Call of Duty: World at War - has perhaps the best cooperative play of any game ever.

In Gears of War 2, co-op is more than a shared shooting gallery. You and your buddy must learn to work as a team, or fail over and over. You must cover each other’s backs while running for ammo. You must coordinate your angles of attack on a swiveling turret. You must take the sniper rifle when he or she takes the shotgun, and vice versa. Most importantly, you must revive your fallen comrade - an ability that builds trust and encourages communication like no other in gaming. In Killzone 2, you’re doomed to die alone... while you can heal AI squadmates, they cannot heal you.

As for the “enemies” argument, I’ll concede the entry level grunts to you. Nothing in Killzone 2, however, can match up to the oh shit scale of a towering Brumak, mammoth Reaver, gargantuan Corpser, colossal Leviathan or hulking Boomer. See how many synonyms for “big” I just came up with? That’s how many times Gears of War 2 kicks Killzone 2’s ass in this department. - Charlie

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Gears 2 would probably have this one sewed up, except that its coolest “vehicle” segment is actually just an on-rails dogfight. So what we’re left with is the Centaur jeeptank and the towering Brumak at the very end, both of which still run along linear paths, and both of which have similar analogues in Killzone 2: a tank, and another thing that, while awesome, we can’t talk about just yet.

True, KZ2’s tank makes an even shorter appearance than Gears’ Centaur, and the thing we can’t talk about doesn’t offer anywhere near the sense of omnipotence that the Brumak does. But it does enable you to wade in closer to your opponents, who actually have a fighting chance against your seemingly unstoppable engine of destruction, and that challenge – which begins the third act, rather than ending it – makes it just a little more rewarding than stomping an ant-like horde of fleeing Locust. - Mikel

Why Gears of War 2 is better: Yeah, I’m no fan of the Centaur in Gears of War 2. The Reaver segments, while way more exciting, are equally frustrating. Grabbing the reins of a Brumak in the last mission, however, was one of the highlights of the entire game. After spending a dozen intense hours in gory and grimy close-quarters combat, Gears of War 2 set the player free. Squash a formerly formidable army of Locust with one, ground-shaking step. Reduce a previously impenetrable fortress with one salvo of rockets. Murder a once terrifying Corpser with one simple flex of monstrous muscle.

Forget rewarding. This vehicle segment was cathartic. - Charlie

Why Killzone 2 will be better: I admit, it’s tough to beat a chainsaw bayonet for sheer coolness. But that aside, what does Gears 2’s arsenal really have going for it? With a few exceptions (like the Hammer of Dawn laser satellite, which you don’t get to use until the game’s final act), most of its guns are the same guns you’ll find in Killzone 2. Lancer? Two varieties of assault rifle and a light machinegun. Boomshot? Rocket launcher and a grenade launcher. Gnasher? Shotgun. The main difference is that the first-person perspective lends KZ2’s firearms a little more of a kick.

Really, though, it all comes down to flamethrowers: the one in Gears 2 is a short-ranged novelty that just blasts out a jet of flame, eventually crisping anything it’s aimed at. Killzone 2’s, meanwhile, sprays flaming napalm that can be arced across long distances if you get the angle right, sending entire squads of covering snipers into flailing, burning panic. Which, incidentally, is a hell of a lot more gratifying than just watching a Locust glow a little before falling over. - Mikel

Why Gears of War 2 is better: The crucial difference here isn’t the weapons themselves - it’s the blood. Sure, both games have assault rifles, but only one has an assault rifle with an attached chainsaw. Both games include shotguns... but only one shotgun has enough force to pulverize an enemy into instant dog food. Both games have high tech energy weapons... but only one can literally microwave a bad guy into unrecognizable red gloop. Killzone 2’s gore consists of some blurry red pixels, scattered timidly across the screen. Gears of War 2’s gore is nothing short of a masterpiece. - Charlie

Why Killzone 2 will be better: True, Killzone 2 doesn’t have Horde mode. It doesn’t even have co-op. But what it does have is a fairly complicated, rewarding, class-based Warzone mode that cycles through a series of objectives (capture the flag… er, propaganda speaker, base defense, control points, assassination and straight-up team deathmatch) during each lengthy round. Oh, and it supports up to 32 players. How many does Gears 2 support again? 10? Pfft. KZ2 kicks its ass on volume alone. - Mikel

Why Gears of War 2 is better: Capture the flag? Control points? Assassination? Team deathmatch? Throw 32 players or 320 players into those tired old game types and the hardened multiplayer addict still won’t have a reason to care. At this point, with every console and nearly every title offering some form of online combat, we need fresh and original ways to engage each other. Horde mode accomplishes just that, challenging you and four friends to survive a smothering 50-wave onslaught of literally hundreds of increasingly vicious enemies. Sounds a bit more interesting than “base defense,” wouldn’t you agree?  - Charlie

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000
  • vexs1n - September 15, 2009 11:20 p.m.

    both games are awsome, both have lots of action plus solid graphics. can't we all get along!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • crimzontiger - May 22, 2009 6:59 p.m.

    play what you like. Both have there pros n cons, but they are totally different games with different themes. Ive have COD WAW, stinks!! would rather play COD3.Anywho, I'm just waiting for M.A.G.!!!
  • nitrocole - March 26, 2009 1:43 a.m.

    All these games have there ups and downs, there all good games. I personally think that KZ2 is better than them, but thats just my opinion.
  • superjustin - March 16, 2009 7:59 a.m.

    I played all four of those games. I rate games on the "fun factor" and CoD W@W takes it home. KZ2, Gears2, R2 all are amazing shooters but I just didn't have fun playing those as much as CoD5. World at War is the perfect shooter in my opinion.
  • sharifsta - January 23, 2009 4:47 p.m.

    lol kill zones only good with vehicles the old ones better most pwnd game of the year
  • CountFenring - January 19, 2009 6:33 a.m.

    I did like the 'Friends and Enemies' defence of R2. Best argument I've heard all day.
  • MGS4SolidSnake - January 19, 2009 4:23 a.m.

    alsso its just games people are aloud to have their own opinions on what they like and if they truly liked it then they wouldnt let other people get in their way of enjoying opinion cant be stated yet becuase i havent played it yet but resis.2 was an alright game to me it kind of seems like an older game with the bosses being completely retarded and always doing the same thing(example. the kraken seems like something out of crash bandicoot)...gow2 is a great game but the weapons are terrible and the online is waayy to small...cod:waw is a recycled version of cod4 but with crappier guns and it is still a good game
  • MGS4SolidSnake - January 19, 2009 4:23 a.m.

    alsso its just games people are aloud to have their own opinions on what they like and if they truly liked it then they wouldnt let other people get in their way of enjoying opinion cant be stated yet becuase i havent played it yet but resis.2 was an alright game to me it kind of seems like an older game with the bosses being completely retarded and always doing the same thing(example. the kraken seems like something out of crash bandicoot)...gow2 is a great game but the weapons are terrible and the online is waayy to small...cod:waw is a recycled version of cod4 but with crappier guns and it is still a good game
  • MGS4SolidSnake - January 19, 2009 4:08 a.m.

    not trying to be a whiny dick but when u guys compare stuff u should take turns who goes first and who goes last
  • noobeater - January 18, 2009 8:26 p.m.

    lol at nitemarish comment i personally think cod WaW is better then gears tho i do like gear's horde more then zombies resistance is pretty good too. dont get me wrong (i dont know that much about killzone) but i dont think it looks better then any of the 3 'rivals' compared here ...just please dont kill me or something fanboys!
  • Tochy - January 17, 2009 8:07 p.m.

  • Nitemarish - January 17, 2009 1:54 a.m.

    @KREATIVEassassin Welcome to the internet
  • Gonri 13 - January 16, 2009 7:21 p.m.

    Yes the lightning gun is better than any experimental weapon made in WW2. I mean even the atomic bomb wasn't as good as the lightning gun!
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - January 16, 2009 1:57 a.m.

    Oh, and one other thing: @Tikicobra: Call us biased all you want, but the fact remains that we've played Killzone 2 to the end and you (most likely) haven't. Our opinions are based on hours spent playing the finished game. If we see something we think is a legitimate problem or flaw (or just unique or interesting), it's our job to point it out. It's NOT our job to love games blindly, or to withhold criticism because we're afraid it might somehow hurt them. THAT would be bias.
  • Synster - January 16, 2009 12:38 a.m.

    Again, I support the Playstation a helluva lot more than I do Microsoft, but isn't software, a bigger library(though not meaning that every game is essentially 'better'.) and better online what the majority of people look for? Of course, you get more bang for your buck with a Playstation, but don't forget not everyone, even with jobs don't have the money to cut it and still not be broke after the purchase. Now then, back to the article, It just feels like every time a negative comment is made towards Killzone, they're swarmed by thousands of Killzone fanboys calling them a Fanboy and/or Biased. I really don't see how through all the hypocritical nonsense. Personally, I accept this hype-killing-website, over others(though not a bad thing) tend to build on it. Haze, anyone? Lair, anyone?(Yes, Haze and Lair would be a typical answer to things like this, but it is a logical one at that.)
  • manloveschaos - January 15, 2009 10:35 p.m.

  • philuk19 - January 15, 2009 9:16 p.m.

    Why is everyone hating on Games Radar? They are aways doing Killzone articles because its the latest "big thing" and they need to get hits, to say open. Now as for the article, KZ had a supporter to unless no-one noticed? It was a fun article and both sides raised valid and silly points. Just take it for what it is, a bit of fun.
  • Roic13 - January 15, 2009 9:08 p.m.

    Killzone vs Gears of war Visuals: Gears of war. Killzone looks to fuzzy. Setting/Story/Characters: Setting, Gears. Story, Gears. Characters/Gears. Short and simple Combat: Well both games are just shoot the enemie. But Gears of War you can hide from cover and have a lot more options like if you want to switch to the other side of the door in a seacond. Friends/Enemies: The friends in killzone just seem a bit more true. Enemies...c,mon gears of war I mean seriously. Vehicles: The vehicles in Gears of War get seriosuly way too annoying! Weapons: The weapons in Gears of War get frustrating and confusing, like the mortar for example. Multiplayer: Team deathmatch, control points blah blah blah like we never player something like that before. Gears of War horde and it doesnt have a concept of just shooting the crap out of the other team. Killzone vs Call of Duty World at War. Visuals: WaW it's just more real like Setting/Story/Characters: Only WaW delivers what war really looks like. Story WaW since well It's World War II! Characters, well SGT. Reznov is the most coolest and badass character I ever see, so WaW. Combat: Well they are basically the same but I'm going with WaW because you face dozens of soilders and tanks. Friends/Enemies: Friends, again SGT.Reznov. Enemies, "Damn those japanese are brutal!!!" Vehicles: Who doesn't want a tank with a flamethrower built in! Weapons: The only thing special of WaW is a flamethrower and Ray gun. So killzone wins that one. Multiplayer: With zombie mode a dozen of match choices, and dozens of perks and customize your own classes each with unique special abilities depeneding on what you put. Who doesn't think WaW wins that. (People who never played WaW probably would think Killzone is better) NOTE* I did'nt include Resistance because I never player Resistance.
  • thor0997 - January 15, 2009 9:03 p.m.

    Yea why are you compareing two shooters in the same console generation who are competeing against each other. GR should be compareing Crysis and the origional pong. Dur. (Sarcasm)
  • LameGamertagGod - January 15, 2009 8:45 p.m.

    I like R2 and I preodered Kz2 but it looks a bit too realistic like with recoil