Killzone 2 - updated impressions

Aug 16, 2007

After one pre-rendered trailer, 135 developers, 40 million dollars, and a typhoon of internet abuse, Guerrilla has finally done it - they%26rsquo;ve proven to the world that Killzone on PlayStation 3 not only exists in playable form, but looks just as good as the %26ldquo;target footage%26rdquo; shown at E3 2005. At an exclusive unveiling in Los Angeles, we were treated to a live 30-minute demo of the game in action, with director Mathijs De Jonge and producer Steven Ter Heide playing a level in real-time, with a Sixaxis, on PS3.

The rest, as they say, is history. From the instantly gripping descent on the Vektan dropship - tinged with the fear that somehow this might still be all pre-rendered footage - to the frenzied landing and shiver-of-relief comprehension that, no, this is real, as bullets rain in with terrifying intensity; to the rifle%26rsquo;s jaw-dropping HDR and zoom effects, to the dazzling rain-lashed rooftop where we%26rsquo;re unnaturally thrilled at the sight of windswept wires: we were gripped in our seats, absolutely, honestly, astonished - and, well, more than a bit relieved. The E3 2005 trailer was a lie, but PS3%26rsquo;s power, and potential, is faith re-affirmingly real.

Highlights? Watch it. In fact, watch Gundam: Target in Sight first, then Killzone 2. Are they really running on the same machine? The demo begins in the realistic, intricately-rendered clouds high above Helghan, the home planet of the evil Helghast army. You and your squad, a troop of ISA Special Forces soldiers called The Legion, are flying towards the planet’s surface on the back of a Vektan cruiser. The scene is almost identical to the one shown in the 2005 trailer and it looks absolutely incredible. The soldiers are particularly impressive, with detailed clothing textures and expressive facial animations. You can actually see them psyche themselves up for the battle ahead and, according to the developers; a single character model has the same amount of polygons as a level in the first Killzone.

But of course, this being a war game, the peace doesn’t last. Suddenly one of the cruisers flying alongside you is struck by a lightning bolt and explodes, evaporating the soldiers on board. Your squad springs to life and the clouds below you part to reveal the Helghan capital city of Pyrrhus and its war-torn streets. It’s an imposing sprawl of burned-out buildings, storm clouds, explosions and smoke stretching endlessly into the distance. And while all of this is happening, your team primes their weapons and prepares to land. It’s like Saving Private Ryan meets Blade Runner.