Killzone 2

I recently played Killzone 2 in another part of the Gamefly spree that has begun the process of my inevitable climb to a belltower due to stress. I played a demo of the first one and found it lacking, so I never got into it. Neither did a lot of people, it seems. Now I know why.

With the release of Killzone 3 on the horizon, I thought that I should go over why Killzone sucks and you shouldn’t play it.

I would go over the plot, which is kind of weak, but if you’ve played a WWII game then you probably know it already. Why? Because the Helghast are Nazis in every way possible that fit into the scenario. The uniforms are exactly the same, the symbolism of the swastika/three-pointed-star thing is used in the same way, everything is so startlingly similar to Medal of Honor that it raises questions if this isn’t just a re-skin of a better game. Even the weapons are just “futuristic” versions of WWII guns, to the point where I picked up the Space M1 Garand and dropped it again just to find a more futuristic gun. Anyways, they’re the Nazis, you’re the goodies, 1+1=death.

Of course, every common gun in the game is crap except for the LMG, which is dropped in the world in such a way that the game apparently thinks that it’s doing you a favor. Most of the later enemies use it, and ammo for it (and only it) lies scattered everywhere. Of course, the thing is entirely composed of recoil, but that’s really a nick to pick. After all, why pick nicks when you have such abysmally bad other things to talk about?

The first real issue that I have with the game, besides the whole WWII thing, is the sheer amount of damage that people can soak up before dying. Your character, your allies, and every enemy can take an extraordinary amount of damage before finally calling it quits and dying, a point that had me in fits. I’m an accurate-shooter kind of guy, I quite like rifles and other non-spray-y guns. However, there’s no point in using them in this game when running and gunning is so effective. Of course, I played the game on the “normal” difficulty because I feel that “normal” is the level that the developers meant for it to be played at, which is also why I don’t give a toss about the harder difficulties. I ended up running-and-gunning through almost the entire game and only had any real difficulty at the “Ha ha, three mounted MGs watching your every move, motherfucker. Survive this!” moments. I don’t think that I even died for the first third of the game, simply because you are so durable and the blood falls off your face so quickly that the cover mechanics are practically useless. Heh, I remember clearing entire buildings with nothing more than my knife, MW2-style.

As it turns out, it’s a good thing that you don’t need cover since the system is absolutely horrid. It sounds reasonable at first, hold down L2 while next to a wall to lock on to it and use the corners to shoot around, etc., etc., but what counts as a “wall” and what is just debris seems to be entirely random. Any long-time FPS gamer can instantly see where the “chest-high walls” and peek-able corners are, and yet the game doesn’t seem to get the message. I think that the good sergeant is just snobby. Of course, when you are lucky enough to actually find a wall that is worthy of your character’s back you still aren’t out of danger. Oh no. For some reason, Sev has a serious problem with the whole “duck your head” aspect of hiding behind chest-high walls, a fact that usually results in your head getting Ginsu-knifed from your neck. Thus, cover blows.

The fact that cover is useless and enemies are super-durable is countered by the fact that the Helghast is apparently pumping pure stupid in through those masks. I remember some of the promo hype from way back when, where they said that the enemies would move in “dynamic” ways and would try to flank and all that. In reality? The closest that they got to “dynamic” movement was a scripted jump over a railing that was done with incredible frequency, but always in exactly the same way and in exactly the same place. Not quite the smart AI that they advertised. Plus, the classic problem of the enemies all taking the same path and hiding behind the same two boxes in a warehouse full of boxes makes a dramatic appearance. There was one part where you had to take a mounted machine gun and clear out a building of respawning baddies. Except they always spawned in the same place and took the same route, which resulted in me simply letting the gun sit there and letting off a burst whenever they came into view. Easy peasy.

I would go on, but this is good enough for now. I’d like to think that I found the game easy because I’m just that awesome at gaming, but being away from consoles for so long has completely killed my controller skills to the point where I should have utterly failed at the game. Instead it took me only a few hours to beat due to all the above design flaws. Oddly, the flaws seemed to cancel each other out into something half-playable, but it really didn’t bring anything new to the field. C-.

(rushes back to computer a day later) Oh crap, and I almost forgot that you lose your guns at the end of each level, even if it’s one continuous place broken into levels, and have to start all over again with the basic assault rifle. Now, this really wouldn’t have been a problem since weapon racks are about as common as oxygen on Helghast, but one level through a factory let you use a lightning gun that is best described as a long-ranged flamethrower-styled death machine with infinite ammo and a relatively quick reload. “Holy fuck,” I said, using this gun to wipe out a room in half a second, “I love this gun”. It operated as a run-and-gun weapon that is what the flamethrower should have been and decidedly wasn’t (the flamethrower didn’t seem to do any direct damage to enemies, even if you sprayed it at them, only operating as a small AoE weapon. Thus, it required the enemy to be standing still to use, defeating almost all the purpose). While I realize that the gun would have completely killed what little balance there was, you don’t get to magic it away from me at the end of the level without reason then never provided it again! Even more to the point, there was a part where the level went get to the train -> board the train with the new level being on the train. However, I ended the level with a BFG of some sort and started the next with nothing but my crappy pistol (which is the fallbackest of fallback weapons). Then my comrade (“AI” implies intelligence) told me that I had to secure a decent weapon first and foremost. I just had one!

I would have just thrown this game to the wolves, but I saw the Amazon review score: four stars! That’s kind of crazy for such an average game. Yet another Halo, I suppose. Of course, this “good score” means that the above problems will probably be in the upcoming third installment, so it’s totally relevant guize. We will see.

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