Killzone 2 - hands-on

Well, here's a surreal moment that's been a long time coming. Almost three years to the day since we first saw the infamous "is it real or not?" Killzone 2 trailer at E3 2005, we've just seen the scene - heavily reworked, but nonetheless unmistakable - live and in real time in its proper place in the game.

As it turns out, it's the opening scene to the game's second level, Corinth River. Humanity is attacking the evil Helghast homeworld in an effort to kill Visari (think Space Hitler). So, after a quick tutorial on level one's capital ship, it's time for your character Sev to jump into a fleet of small, open-roofed flying troop transports called Intruders - with Rico from the previous Killzone games - and drop into the hot zone.

Actually, the drop bit isn't intentional - it's just that there's a huge amount of anti-aircraft fire, so a scenic soft landing is out of the question. On the ground, we enter an open courtyard with a high building on one side - whose balconies are packed with Helghast - and a bridge dead ahead, upon which three anti-aircraft guns with an unlimited supply of operators punching big holes in our forces. Bullets fly everywhere - this really does feel like a chaotic war zone - and we're shredded in literally 30 seconds. Apparently, someone is firing mortars in addition to all the machine gunnery and anti-aircraft blasting.

After a quick reboot, a Sony rep kindly introduces us to the game's unique cover system. Basically, holding the L1 button will make you crouch when out in the open, or take cover when there's a wall, chunk of masonry, or other shelter nearby. The fresh thing about it is that the view remains first-person - your gun is just held vertically, so you can snuggle up to that cold, hard safe zone. You can then use the left stick to pop up over the top or around the side and take a quick shot before snapping back to safety.

We pick off the Helghast flanking our sides with the help of a cement barricade and "aiming mode," which you access by clicking R3. It's basically the same thing that happens when you hold the left trigger in Call of Duty 4 - Sev looks down his weapon's sight, which causes him to move more slowly, but decreases recoil and enhances the accuracy of your shots.

But there's still the matter of the anti-aircraft guns. We vault over our cement alcove (with X) and get closer, but it doesn't help. Every gunner we kill is quickly replaced. Right about then, Rico shouts out that we need to grab a fallen comrade's rocket launcher - we see the body, switch our machine gun for the rocket launcher, and send a single shell in the direction of a wagon midway across the bridge - it just happens to be piled with ammo. Boom, baby.

Our forces swarm forward, and we go with them right after dumping the rocket launcher and grabbing back our original rifle. Unlike most shooters, Killzone 2 lets you carry only one pistol and one other weapon. You can swap the pistol for a new pistol, but there's none of this lugging around a chaingun and a rocket launcher, or some similarly massive arsenal. By the time we get to the firefight, some of our comrades have fallen - but you can often revive them by approaching their bodies and hitting O to patch them up. Now that's strong medicine.

Eric Bratcher
I was the founding Executive Editor/Editor in Chief here at GR, charged with making sure we published great stories every day without burning down the building or getting sued. Which isn't nearly as easy as you might imagine. I don't work for GR any longer, but I still come here - why wouldn't I? It's awesome. I'm a fairly average person who has nursed an above average love of video games since I first played Pong just over 30 years ago. I entered the games journalism world as a freelancer and have since been on staff at the magazines Next Generation and PSM before coming over to GamesRadar. Outside of gaming, I also love music (especially classic metal and hard rock), my lovely wife, my pet pig Bacon, Japanese monster movies, and my dented, now dearly departed '89 Ranger pickup truck. I pray sincerely. I cheer for the Bears, Bulls, and White Sox. And behind Tyler Nagata, I am probably the GR staffer least likely to get arrested... again.