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KILLZONE 2 Preview (PS3)

KILLZONE 2 Preview (PS3)

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Killzone 2 is out next month on the Playstation 3 and we had some time recently to sit with the final version, courtesy of Sony Entertainment. Sony have placed some restrictions on what we are allowed to detail in this preview, however we really don’t want to spoil the game for everyone anyway so we are happy to present our preview today. Killzone 2 is released next month and we can tell you already that this game is shaping up to be a good reason to pick up a Playstation 3 if you haven’t already.

Immediately the first thing to notice is the amazing quality of the graphics, they are in fact some of the best we have seen on the Playstation 3 and in fact probably right up there with Gears Of War 2 on the Xbox 360. The lighting particularly deserves special mention and it quite literally is breathtaking with sophisticated ambient effects and realistic transparency through smoke and smog. It really is extremely impressive in execution.

The environmental design is stunning; right from the Helghan capital of Pyrrhus to the gritty shanty Suljeva village. It is the kind of game which will make you actually stop shooting from time to time to look around the levels and admire the panoramic views and sweeping vistas. Developer Guerilla really have the mindset to make everything as epic as possible while ensuring that none of the attention to detail is lost. The overwhelming feeling is that everything has a real sense of realism to the design and that the enveloping war is both brutal and frightening. Everywhere you look there are the ugly remnants of war… black smoke rising to the horizon and shells and debris littering the environments.

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There is also a realistic weather system in the game with strong winds blowing across the landscapes lifting up dust and vegetation into the cloudy skies. Lightning spikes from the sky to illuminate everything hiding in the shadows and the aural 7:1 onslaught is enough to  overload your senses.

Playing the game is a frantic affair well suited to gamers who will like a Battlefield meets Gears Of War non stop experience. There are many battles with the Helghast ranging from brief excursions to full blown in your face battles with wave upon wave emerging over the horizon. This is a high octane, gory and realistic shooter which gets the blood pumping and never lets goes.

I have mentioned Gears Of War and with good reason because Killzone 2 has a similar ‘head on collision style’ gameplay mechanic which will appeal to adrenaline junkies, who want to experience the rush of chaotic combat. That said, the mission objectives are more traditional than GOW as you have to destroy Helghast bases and drive through enemy fortifications to progress. There is also a GOW style cover system in place, although it is much less forgiving in KZ2 because you can easily be killed behind lower barricades if you aren’t careful with the terrain objects you choose to shelter behind.

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The game has clearly received substantial play testing because the AI balancing appears to be spot on. There are certain levels when you will need to run in guns blazing and other times you will need to use your head to just get out in one piece.

The weapons within the game are varied enough to maintain interest. You are presented with an automatic pistol, a revolver, an SMG, rocket launcher, grenade launcher – perhaps nothing out of the ordinary on paper, but they each look and react in a very realistic manner. Granted I can’t say I have ever really used a rocket launcher in person, but it is hard not to be impressed with the crackle and smoke as you send forth the rocket into enemy lines. The enemy react just as you would hope, they shout and talk to each other in the heat of battle and when you hit them with a rocket or a shotgun, their bodies react realistically and they scream in pain as they fall, limbs contorted.

Guerilla Games threw in a couple of weapons which deserve special mention, the first being the Arc Cannon. This weapon sends out streaks of lightning that incapacitate enemy soldiers, causing them to shake uncontrollably as the electricity reeks havoc through their bodies. Shortly afterwards they fall over, leaving a smoking chargrilled corpse.

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The flamethrower is a devastating tour de force and is great for wiping out hordes of foes inside buildings. There is a certain technique to be successful with this weapon however because while a brief blast will stop the aliens in their tracks briefly, only longer durations will spit roast them and send them to a fiery grave.

There are many mounted weapons through the game such as anti aircraft cannons and gun turrets which the enemy can also use. There are a few other very cool additions but we will cover this in more detail when our full review gets published shortly.

So far we have covered the beautiful graphics and array of weapons at hand, but one of the killer aspects of the game is the Artificial Intelligence. We are used to seeing the enemy just standing around like dummies while you get to shoot them in the head from behind, but not so in Killzone 2. The Helghast are the most intelligent enemies I can remember battling in a game of this genre – they take cover, pop out to take accurate shots and they flank and give cover to their comrades. If you fire grenades over barriers, you can see them running around to try to escape the blast zone and if that means they run into the open to risk taking fire, they will do it. This is a good indication that there is a decent algorithm in place for self preservation especially when you see them running into the open and moving around quickly to prevent you from locking your sights and acquiring an easy kill.

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Equally so, the Helghast will work as a team with light infantry taking the fore and the heavy gunners and artillery units laying down fire from cover. The AI also has adaptive qualities, so you can’t continually use the same technique to achieve repeated victories.

The multiplayer aspect of the game is always important and Killzone 2 really delivers on this front. There is a 32 player deathmatch mode included which is a hell of a lot of fun, with; capture and hold, search and destroy and Assassination … all of which are given a KZ2 tweak to be slightly different. Again more about this in our full review coming shortly on GamingHeaven.

The multiplayer in Killzone 2 allows each side (ISA and Heighast) to have access to seven player types. At the start you can only play with the infantryman with a few weapons but after some play time you earn badges and progress up the ranks – then you have access to other character classes such as heavy weapon troopers and medics. Each class obviously has their own abilities and skill sets, engineers for example can set up turrets to protect key points and tacticians can call in air support with ATAC’s, which are flying drones loaded with miniguns. The whole game mechanic rewards play time within multiplayer and is going to become a firm favourite with many gamers online.

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Killzone 2 is set to become a classic and possibly one of the best games this year. If you managed to pick up a Playstation 3 for yourself at Christmas, then rest assured there are many gems coming this year and Killzone 2 is one you will not want to miss.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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