Killzone 2 is a remarkably divisive game, as noted in the fierce comments to our last hands-on post. Killzone 2 is one of the few games that can get overzealous PS3 fans, insecure 360 fanboys, and downright-confused Wii owners in one place and start a verbal riot. With so much fervor surrounding the title, we decided to simply break down the game and answer some of your more burning questions.
When is it coming out? Killzone 2 will be available in North America on February 27, 2009. Expect a "similar timeframe" for European countries.
What are the controls like? The controls are much slower than most other FPS games on the market. Instead of running and gunning, you'll be taking cover and aiming down your sights. When behind a wall or object, you'll have to hold the cover button. Releasing it will allow you to peek out and fire your gun. It takes some time to get used to fully first person cover, but it's meant to keep the experience immersive. If you play like the guys at G4, you will die. A lot. (According to G4, that was a developer playing. Whoops!)
There are 6 control schemes to choose from. The default controls look like this:
L1 - Close combat
L2 - Crouch/Cover
L3 - Sprint
R1 - Fire weapon
R2 - Grenade
R3 - Look/Zoom
Up - Objective/Headset
Left/Right - Inventory
Triangle - Swap weapon
Square - Reload/Pickup weapon
Circle - Use
Cross (X) - Jump
You'll be able adjust both X and Y sensitivity. You will not be able to turn off SIXAXIS tilt support. Actions, such as planting a bomb and turning a wheel, involve a motion sensitive mini-game.
Does the game match the quality of the pre-rendered target from 2005? The answer is "sometimes." For the most part, the game gets incredibly close. When it releases, it will be one of the best looking console game on the market. This doesn't devalue games that are currently on the market: Gears of War 2 will still look excellent after Killzone 2 releases. However, what Killzone 2 manages to achieve should be commended. The character models are incredibly detailed and well animated. The special effects are truly remarkable, with believable particle effects, advanced lighting, and well-executed motion blur. Killzone 2 got a lot of flak for its lackluster presentation at E3 2007. This is not the same game at all.
The CG trailer features more complex animation and particle effects. However, the playable Killzone 2 features much more color than any of the previous builds. Yes, the older builds featured tons of grays and browns. However, the final game will add oranges, reds, blues. It's not Super Mario Sunshine, but it's not the first Gears of War either.
How long is the single player campaign? There are 9 chapters in the game. It took 4 hours to beat the first 6 in the game on the default difficulty. Depending on your skill, the final game should take about 6-10 hours to complete.
Does the game feature Trophies? Yes! There are a few general Trophies tied to campaign completion, like beating the game on Elite difficulty or completing the entire campaign without dying. You can check out the full list of Trophies here.
What kinds of vehicles will you be able to control? Not many. You can ride a tank in the first level, if you so desire. However, the following five levels do not feature any vehicle combat whatsoever. We hear there's some kind of exoskeleton in the latter part of the game, though ...
What are the weapons like? For the most part, the weapons are heavily inspired by real-life weapons. Each rifle has its own unique sight, weight and recoil. Beyond the standard assault rifles and pistols, you'll come across a sniper rifle, flamethrower and bolt gun. There will be one additional weapon towards the end of the game which involves electricity.
The sniper rifle is a lot of fun to use, thanks to the clever use of SIXAXIS controls. In order to keep your aim steady, you'll have to keep the controller steady. However, the sniper rifle uses a two-click zoom: click once to use the scope, and click again to zoom further. This can be inconvenient, as you'll have to click twice in order to leave the sights.
The flamethrower is quite stunning. It shoots out fuel which sticks to almost every surface in the game. Should the fuel hit a Helghast soldier, he will run around flailing his arms quite wildly. It's a great way of getting enemies to leave cover.
The bolt gun is the most sci-fi inspired weapon in the game, similar to Half-Life 2's crossbow. The bolt will nail enemies to walls. Not only that, after a few seconds, the bolt will explode, damaging anyone in the blast radius.
Is there co-op play? Unfortunately, no. There's no split-screen co-op or online co-op from what we've seen so far.
How does the online multiplayer play? The beta didn't offer a lot of content, so we can't comment on what the final game will offer. What we did get to try was very fun. Don't expect to take a lot of damage online in Killzone. Players die very quickly, in two to three hits. (Headshots kill in one!) You do not automatically regenerate health, but you can rely on your teammates to help you out. Players can revive others, just like in the single player adventure, if they get to the body quickly enough.
Cooperation is key to success online, as players from different classes must work and talk to each other to complete the various objectives that appear on screen. Beginning players won't have access to more advanced classes. However, as players gain XP and level up, they'll gain better equipment. This is rewarding, but also the game's greatest flaw right now. Some players will spawn with rocket launchers, giving them an unfair advantage over online n00bs.
The online experience is a far more arcade-oriented one than the single player campaign. The controls are faster, and you do not have the ability to take cover (at least in the beta). The classes can do much more than any hero or enemy in the single player adventure. Depending on which class you choose, you can build turrets or cloak yourself. From what we've seen so far, the level design is terrific. However, the framerate could certainly use a boost. It'll be interesting to see how Killzone's multiplayer shapes up. Right now, we're cautiously optimistic.