Killzone 2 is out. Now that’s four words I almost thought I may never write. It’s also a little strange writing this post about the game now, on its release day, when I haven’t a PS3 within 10 metres of me to play it. I never envisioned this would be how I would spend my day on the release of such a long-awaited title.
Well I’m not hugely bothered. In fact, I’ve already played the game for review, and had a fantastic time doing so. The whole atmosphere and concept that Guerrilla Games has created – in regards to assaulting this hostile world with a couple of trash-talking soldiers, arriving on some extremely vulnerable landing craft – is very exciting, to me that is. I don’t wish to say too much about the game itself, as it’s only just come out, but I would like to say a couple things about my own feelings towards Killzone 2’s journey from hype to home console.
Back in late 2005, I really had absolutely no interest in Killzone whatsoever. OK, to be fair the only shooter I played back then was TimeSplitters (which is still my nostalgic favourite), and, seeing as I had a lot less money, I was extremely lucky to get a PSP on the first day of its European release (September 1, 2005). So I can’t quite put my finger on it, but at some point in 2006 I got myself caught up in the Killzone madness quite effortlessly. Now, by that I don’t mean that I became one of these mindless fanatics who seem soul-crushingly convinced that Killzone 2 is ‘the greatest game ever’. I picked up a copy of the original Killzone on PS2 just to try it out, despite the poor reviews. It was very difficult at the time and, more pressingly, it wasn’t great. The swearing really got my back up and a host of frustrating design decisions, not to mention the lack of co-op play, served to leave me cold.
Yet, somehow, that E3 2005 trailer must have done enough to keep me interested, because I eventually found my way to Killzone: Liberation on PSP in mid-2007. This is where all the hype and promise Killzone had already rallied over the years began to make sense. Maybe it’s because I was on holiday in the Greek islands with very little technological distractions, but Killzone: Liberation is one of the finest tactical third-person shooters I’ve ever played. It was a tough cookie, sure, but Guerrilla packed so much adventure, character and gameplay onto that little UMD that I just couldn’t tear myself away from it. Even the one-off DLC they released with an additional chapter and infrastructure support was masterfully constructed. Heck, by the end of Liberation I was about ready to strap myself in to a NASA space shuttle and go stick it to those red-eyed demons myself.
The sweeping clouds of the E3 2007 trailer for Killzone 2 only heightened my anticipation. Yet with every delay and the incessant dodge of a co-op reveal my frustration grew. And so, here we are, in the far-flung future of 2009. Much to my own surprise, I’ve actually changed quite a bit since the heady days of early 2005. Spider-Man 3, Halo 3, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and a host of other big-ticket blockbusters have already taught me that these creative entities have to be taken with a pinch of salt. No matter how much I wanted Spidey to face Venom in an underground sewer station – bursting pipes over head, Venom’s haunting voice taunting him from a wide, menacing jaw full of grinning teeth – it wasn’t in the movie.
Killzone 2 falls into much the same vein as the other notable examples I mentioned. Now, while I have had zero experience with the online multiplayer portion, I have played the single-player campaign to completion and I happen to know a great deal about the plot threads of the previous Killzone games. There’s no co-op at all, which I’m certain has disappointed and frustrated many who were looking forward to picking up the game and playing through the campaign with a friend. I can’t think for the life of me why Guerrilla can’t understand that offline co-op, when done right, is hugely rewarding for people who enjoy playing together in the same space. Instead of drawing things to a satisfying conclusion or weaving more intrigue into the plot, Killzone 2 left me feeling somewhat cheated and disappointed that the developers didn’t build on the vast backstory they’ve created – preferring instead to keep things skull-numbingly simple and sh*t-talkingly stupid.
As a strong believer in story and character, Killzone 2 doesn’t meet the high expectations I had for it, but I’ll try and be positive from here on, as there is more to the game than these elements alone. As a theatre of war and an intense FPS experience, I have nothing to say except clap with copious applause. The opening moments on the New Sun, that sees Alpha Squad’s Intruder transport dropped from the ISA cruiser out to the polluted Helghan skies, has to be one of the coolest moments I have witnessed on PlayStation 3. And then there’s that feeling you get when you survive another merciless Helghast assault with some quick thinking, an even quicker trigger finger and by the scruff of your neckerchief – a true sense of relief and accomplishment. Yeah, Killzone 2 is bloody amazing.
I may not have access to it now, but it’s damn good to know that it’s out at last for the world to enjoy. And you know what the best part is? I can FINALLY delete that stupid 2005 trailer that I’ve been watching for the past four years.
Images: Sony Computer Entertainment/Guerrilla Games