It's a functional shooter, but with a couple of extra coats of paint, Killzone could have been a whole lot better.
- Unique storyline
- Multiplayer is solid, though not original
- Nice art design.
- Bland single-player gameplay
- Weapons don't have the best feel
- Tons of annoying graphics and sound problems
- Anticlimactic ending.
It's tough to top the current crop of established action games with a brand new franchise, but that hasn't stopped Sony and developer Guerilla from trying with Killzone, a new story-driven first-person shooter developed for the PlayStation 2. The game features a fairly lengthy single-player campaign, an interesting story and art direction, and a fully developed online multiplayer mode. But Killzone's recipe for success falls flat once you actually delve into the game, where you'll encounter an array of minor technical issues and an unfortunate lack of overall refinement. It's a functional shooter, but with a couple of extra coats of paint, it could have been a whole lot better.
Killzone's premise is one of its strongest points, though the story itself isn't told particularly well and fails to expand upon its most interesting aspects. At some point in the future, humankind colonized space, and a militant splinter group broke away and settled on the planet Helghan. These colonists were slowly changed by their new world's atmosphere over a period of years until they effectively became an entirely new race: the Helghast. After a bitter war and subsequent period of isolation, the Helghast forces rebuilt themselves and began a new assault on humanity, starting with the nearby world of Vekta. It's up to you, of course, to fight off this invasion and stop the Helghast from realizing their plans of dominion.
After a nicely done intro that teases you with the novel idea of humankind fighting an interstellar war against a dark version of itself, the game spends little time exploring the origins of the Helghast or the nature of this conflict, instead focusing blandly on the four playable characters and their immediate struggle to repel the invasion. Like most of the game, the plot progression gets the job done coarsely, but one less argument between Rico, your heavy-weapons specialist, and Hakha, your half-Helghast special operative, would not have been missed in favor of a little more exploration of the genuinely appealing backstory.
The single-player campaign in Killzone is spread across 11 missions, each broken up into multiple parts, and it basically pits you against legions of Helghast soldiers in many different environments. You'll travel from a bombed-out city to an industrial-docks area, from the jungle to the desert, from a snowy mountain region to an orbital defense platform that's key to the Helghast invasion strategy. So yes, there's a lot of variety in the game's backdrops. Unfortunately, there's not such a great range of enemies to fight. The vast majority of your opponents are basic Helghast grunts, occasionally joined by other Helghast grunts who look slightly different and fight with shotguns or rocket launchers rather than the standard-issue assault rifle. This sameness in enemy design isn't utterly damning but doesn't really do much to enliven the action, either.
The game's combat, ostensibly its biggest selling point, can be exciting at times. Sort of. Occasionally you'll get to take on a tank with a rocket launcher, repel a beach assault from a fortified position, or perform some other unique, mission-specific action. More often it's simply running from point A to point B, firing at every Helghast in sight until you hit the right switch, blow up the right box, or reach the right area to advance the mission to the next event. The arsenal--which includes assault rifles, a sniper rifle, a shotgun, a vehicle-killing rocket launcher, grenades, and other genre mainstays--doesn't really pack much of a punch. The shotgun, with its horribly slow rate of fire, is rather ineffectual; the sniper rifle's aiming system is too loose; and the assault rifles are only sporadically accurate (and while this inaccuracy might be realistic, it isn't particularly satisfying). The guns do their killing properly but with little panache.
Thankfully, some variety is provided by the presence of four playable characters. In addition to Rico and Hakha, you have Capt. Templar, the all-around good guy, and Luger, the sultry female assassin. These two share a romantic past, and the other two hate each other, but that's about as far as the relationships are developed. Fortunately, the gameplay benefits more from the extra characters than the storyline, since you'll be able to choose your character and thereby alter the gameplay somewhat before most missions. Luger has a silenced semiautomatic weapon and thermal vision and can sneak through some passages the others can't; Hakha, with his Helghast heritage, can enter some areas without setting off enemy defenses; and Rico can sustain more damage than the others and comes equipped with a true monster of a machine gun that tears enemies to ribbons. On occasion, your choice of character will actually change some of your objectives or the path you'll take through a given mission, which introduces an obvious element of replayability, if you decide to go through the campaign again. That doesn't seem likely, but as you fight your way through the game for the first time, you'll at least notice a few interesting superficial details.
Other than this game being marred on the technical side of things, I absolutely loved it. The atmosphere was fantastic, I thought the action was pretty fun, the Helghast were introduced, and they are awesome enemies, the art was great which made me look past the technical side of it for the most part and helped with the atmosphere, and unlike Killzone 2 and 3, the majority of the characters were likable. One other thing I didn't like, but over time stopped caring, was that during game play there wasn't any music.
This is one of my favourite FPS' on the PlayStation 2. True, it has a lot of glitches and frame-rate issues, but the action is fun and the multiplayer is really good, even today!