Killzone 2 vs 2008's best shooters

We pit the PS3's upcoming epic against three of last year's biggest guns

Why Call of Duty: World at War is better: Oh, you had to start with this category, didn’t you? K’Zone is optimized exclusively for the most powerful console on the planet, while WaW is built upon a year-old engine with multiple platforms in mind. To its credit, Killzone 2 is unrelentingly gorgeous and as immersive as need be, but it’ll never resonate with gamers in the same way as the real-life battlefields we read about in history books.

And enough of this “CoD:WaW looks generic” malarkey! It’s the best looking World War II game to date: Period. I apologize if Europe’s fall-of-civilization rubble isn’t easy on the eyes, since it would seem the only mood Treyarch was shooting for was the one experienced by our grandparents - somewhere between hopeless and heroic. Oh yeah, this war happened! And we can’t start adding lasers or hovering Panzers to the South Pacific until the last brave person who actually fought in that war dies. Should be any second now…
- Chris Antista, Associate Features Editor

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Cripes, World War II again? At least Killzone 2 has the decency to mask its WWII inspiration behind a sci-fi veneer, which also gives it the freedom to create memorable stuff like huge, ruined palaces, gigantic pieces of machinery and an enormous freight train that carries tanks. It’s all gritty, gray and bombed-out, but at least it’s something we haven’t seen before.

Its story, meanwhile, is more character-driven than World at War’s, and because we don’t know the outcome of the Helghan-Vektan war, it actually holds a few big surprises. World at War’s main character, meanwhile, seems to be the war itself, and while Kiefer Sutherland and Gary Oldman turn in memorable performances, it’s hard to get attached to them the same way you do to KZ2’s Rico, Garza and even idiot-haired protagonist Sev. Hell, even KZ2’s villains are more sympathetic than WaW’s Roebuck and Reznov; by the time you cross paths with KZ2’s final boss, you’ll have seen enough of him to know him better than any of World at War’s screaming commandos. – Mikel

Why Call of Duty: World at War is better: WaW harkens back to a time when men were men, whereas K’Zone’s frat pack points towards a future where surly preteens are armed. Give me the subtle nobility of Jack Bauer and Sirius Black any day over the potty-lipped machismo provided by KZ2’s predictable Rainbow Gang. You can dismiss WaW’s speechless protagonist all you want, but when it comes to the brutality of warfare it feels more like it’s happening to him; catastrophic, unwanted and dangerous. Call me a hippy if you must, but Sev and co. seem to thrive on bloodshed. When you’re behind their eyes, it feels more like you’re worsening the atrocity of war instead of surviving another agonizing minute of it. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different.

And another thing: World War II didn’t suddenly get “old” after the last 16th Medal of Honor game, so there’s no space opera in the cosmos that’s going to make the opportunity to jump into our ancestors’ shoes and relive America’s Finest Hour (Sorry Europe, we need this one) feel anything less than gloriously patriotic. I’m starting to think you hate the Greatest Generation. - Chris

Why Killzone 2 will be better: I won’t even try to pretend that Call of Duty’s gameplay hasn’t become the Holy Grail of FPS combat. Neither will Killzone 2, which borrows a few key gameplay elements from the series, including its one-hit-kill knife and no-nonsense approach to riddling dudes with bullets. But Killzone 2 adds the ability to stick to cover and peek around the sides, which makes chaotic shootouts with swarms of Helghast a little more survivable than fighting WaW’s Nazis and Japanese troops. Killzone 2’s missions also follow a clear, overarching narrative, which makes the action a little more meaningful than World at War’s somewhat disjointed battles.

Also you can totally hammer Helghast in the face with the butt of your rifle, which you can’t do in World at War for some reason. – Mikel

Why Call of Duty: World at War is better: Cover is a necessity in Killzone, especially when dealing with the dunderheaded Helghast. They may move like morons, but boy can they blind fire! Bear in mind, CoD:WaW does have cover, albeit with a much less analog approach, but that’s not really going to help you against a Kamikaze soldier’s bayonet, now is it? I only wish I had the magical insta-kill knife from Killzone 2 while toiling through WaW’s Veteran Campaign. - Chris

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Friends? Kiefer and Gary do a fantastic job of being indestructible and making you feel inadequate by taking out half your enemies, but aside from them there aren’t too many memorable characters to latch onto. That also goes for the enemies, which are, let’s face it, the same ones we’ve fought a thousand times before. Nazis? Old hat. Imperial Japanese troops? Nazi stand-ins with crazier tactics.

If I’m going to fight Nazi stand-ins, they might as well be Nazi stand-ins with facemasks, glowing red eyes and raspy English accents. And hey, Killzone 2 has a ton of those, even if they don’t do cool things like set up ambushes in which they all pretend to be dead. – Mikel

Why Call of Duty: World at War is better: The Zone may have it over CoD here. Not just in enemy variation, but most will find the independent fluidity and grace with which even the dumbest enemy moves almost distracting at first. Pals like Rico and Natko are some of the most beautifully designed and detailed character models we’ve ever seen, even if they do sound like fouler Cole Trains. If I have any slam against the AI, it’s the Helghast’s comical predilection for rail kills. No matter where they’re laid to rest, as if the metal bars were magnetized for death, they’ll make an Old West stumble to the nearest rail. - Chris

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Oh boy, World at War has a tank. Another tank. To be fair, its main cannons and flamethrower are more fun to play with than KZ2’s machinegun and rockets, but aside from that it doesn’t really offer anything dramatically different from KZ2’s treaded monster. And while World at War’s seaplane-gunner level makes for a memorable set piece, you’re not really in control; you’re just manning the guns as your plane moves along on rails. And the vehicle in Killzone 2 that we can’t talk about just yet is way more fun than that. – Mikel

Why Call of Duty: World at War is better: WaW’s only got a couple wide open multiplayer maps that truly show the potential of vehicles in the game. But as far as the single player campaign, vehicles in Killzone offer the exact same momentary reprieve from run-and-gunning you find in CoD games. Sure, they’re stuff no one’s ever seen before, but it’s hardly fair to compare a U-boat to the Millennium Falcon.

I’d really have to see them in action on a multiplayer map to call them anything more than an afterthought, but that’s no insult. As with any FPS, the game’s true merit will always boil down to how damned good it feels to be a grunt with a gun. - Chris

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Even the worst piece-of-shit weapons in Killzone 2 are better than the bolt-action rifles that enemy corpses in World at War are so fond of carrying. And while World at War seemed awful damn proud of its flamethrower, Killzone 2’s is – again – even better. Yeah, blasting Axis troops with jets of burning fuel was fun, but nowhere near as enjoyable or satisfying as the napalm hose you get to play around with in Killzone 2. And that’s to say nothing of KZ2’s lightning gun, which doesn’t need ammo or careful aim and is cooler than any experimental superweapon World War II ever tried to produce. – Mikel

Why Call of Duty: World at War is better: The best part about using the Modern Warfare engine was making weapons approaching a century in age actually feel like they’re straight off the factory line, or modern, for lack of a better word. The Thompson machine guns feel altogether new, and few firearms can match the deadly majesty found in the BAR. In addition to being badass, WaW’s M2 Flamethrower yields a more vicious, skin-melting result than anything I saw in the Zone.

And for all their ray guns and Flash Gordon whiz-bangs, Killzone’s artistic license still couldn’t shake the simplicity of traditional weaponry. Pick up any shotgun, assault rifle, or machine gun try to convince yourself it varies from the tried and true WWII weaponry in anything other than model and clip size. - Chris

Why Killzone 2 will be better: Yeah, yeah, four-player co-op. Fine. That aside, World at War’s multiplayer might offer one or two basic modes that Killzone 2 doesn’t, but KZ2’s handling of the modes it does have keeps things a little more lively and interesting. Instead of spending an entire match focusing on a single objective, Killzone 2’s periodic, customizable goal-switching makes its 32-player matches more unpredictable – and therefore more fun - than WaW’s 18-soldier skirmishes. And speaking of WaW’s anemic player cap, Killzone 2 doesn’t stop at just allowing in 32 players; if you’re feeling lonely, you can also fill out the roster with up to 15 bots, all of whom are alarmingly competent fighters. – Mikel

Why Call of Duty: World at War is better: The value of switching goals on the fly is not to be denied, but only a fool would think Killzone can touch the refinement of the latest Call of Duty multiplayer. To be fair, World at War is working with a helluva template, but that doesn’t make XP rankings, customizable Perks, Prestige modes, and the new party system any less of a triumph. Additionally, one should never, EVER, shrug off the co-op mode, especially when you consider how distinctively Competitive Co-op stands apart from every other multiplayer aspect, allowing for a more arcade-style experience totally unique unto itself. Should I even bring up Zombie Survival? More people do not good multiplayer make. If that were the case, Frontlines: Fuel of War would be the end all, be all of online shooters. I said good day, sir! – Chris

Jan 14, 2009

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