Joystiq Review: Killzone 2 (multiplayer)

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We know what you're thinking: "Hey, didn't you guys already review Killzone 2?" Pretty neat trick, huh? Yes, we did. But, as we played before the game hit retail, we only covered the single-player experience. Now that the game's out, the servers are up and we've had ample time to pop some caps in other players thousands of miles away, it's time to talk about Killzone 2's multiplayer offering.

Considering how solid the game's solo campaign is, some would argue it's good enough to just leave the critique at that. But any major, modern FPS needs a strong multiplayer component to compete -- not to mention bring some staying power to that $60 purchase. In the case of Killzone 2, its MP side can scrap with the best of 'em when it's good (which is often) but still contains enough of the rough stuff to warrant a few rounds of patches.
Rather than simply bringing the single-player mechanic into an online, competitive environment with typical capture-the-flag or control point game types -- a la the first Killzone and countless other FPSs -- Guerilla seems to have spent a sizable chunk of the game's dev cycle to create a much deeper experience. Enter: the class system.

You can be a Medic and Engineer, should you wish, doling out revives and building defensive turrets.

Sure, classes are nothing new to the genre. Take Team Fortress 2, for example. (Guerilla obviously did.) But it didn't simply ape it (no pun intended). It introduced a "roll you own class" system that gives COD4-esque perks by ranking up and meeting specific requirements in battle.

Take, for example, the Medic class. It's unlocked at Master Sergeant rank -- ranking up is based on mission points (basically XP), which are rewarded for kills as well as completing goals in the various match types. The Medic's basic ability is revival -- he can zap comrades back to life so long as they're still breathing. Do this enough and you'll level up the Medic ability and can toss out blood packs. Pretty cool.

The thing that's really clever about the class system, though, is combining classes. You can be a Medic Engineer, should you wish, doling out revives and repairing defensive turrets. The class badges -- like your weapon loadout -- can be changed to suit a particular map or game type. We just wish you could save multiple presets, a la Call of Duty 4.

Another clever element: on-the-fly objective changes. If you choose to play in a game that features some -- or all -- game types, you won't be playing Search & Destroy on one map, Assassination on the next and so on. No -- once an objective (a demolition, say) has been completed by one side, the gameplay changes on the same map. And it keeps doing so until the overall game timer reaches zero. At that point, the side with the most objectives completed wins. (Again, like COD4, there's a mission point multiplier for the winning team.)

The maps themselves are well designed, memorable, and stick close to the aesthetics of the single-player game. That said, it could be hard to spot enemies -- had Guerilla not introduced a literal "red vs. blue" element. Just as the ISA can see the Helghast's glowing red eyes from a distance, the Helghast can see the luminescent blue badges affixed to the ISA's gear. (The Scout badge, earned at General level, also gives those who've equipped it the ability to "paint" enemies, revealing their location on the radar.)

Vehicles factor into the single-player campaign; they're nowhere to be found in multiplayer.

Overall, the Killzone 2 multiplayer experience is wildly entertaining -- but it could be better. For one, there's no party system. In other words, you and a group of friends (say, your clan) can't automatically stick together between games -- or even be placed on the same side of a match. And, since games can be set to auto-assign sides, you're often placed on opposing teams.

Other elements could have been given more thought. The air support bots are, for lack of a better word, dumb. Literally -- they're more of a set piece than something that actually helps your side to any meaningful degree. If anything, they're an easy target for the opposing team, who gains a point for taking one down.

Finally: vehicles. These factor into the single-player campaign; they're nowhere to be found in multiplayer. The Halo series has shown just how well vehicles can be implemented in multiplayer, and their inclusion in Killzone 2's could only make the experience deeper and more tactical. Here's hoping for a map update that adds -- and is tailored for -- them. Guerilla has already shown it's listening to player feedback (a patch to tune weapon aiming [among other fixes] went live this week), even going as far as to say it will release DLC based on player demand. Now, if you'll excuse us, we have to present the developer with our list of demands polite requests.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.