Killzone 2 Hands-On

We go hands-on with Killzone 2 and see whether it's starting to look anything like the trailer shown all those years ago.

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Killzone 2 information has been thin on the ground throughout the game's development. However, Sony and Guerrilla Games threw PlayStation fans a bone yesterday when they not only gave media a chance to play the game, but finally ended speculation around its ship date. An intended February 2009 ship date in Europe was confirmed during the Sony keynote address. SCEE representatives at the game's booth were quick to point out that they could have had the game on shelves this year but chose not to in the face of stiff competition from other AAA titles, including Gears of War 2.

Not surprisingly, the line to play the game was long. Although the game was tucked away in a difficult-to-access booth, the perforated walls made it easy to get a glimpse at the code being shown, long before a controller was in your hands. We were told the level in the demo came from around 15 minutes into the single-player campaign, and it sees you needing to assist pinned-down Interplanetary Strategic Alliance units after they've been shot down. You, too, are forced to the ground after being hit by what looked to be a laser attack. You're then thrown straight into the action, gun in hand.

Controls are fairly typical for a console first-person shooter, with the R1 button used to fire your currently selected weapon (two can be carried at a time) and the R2 button used to toss out a grenade, which leaves the L1 button to handle the cover mechanic. Rifle-sight zooming is toggled by clicking the right analogue stick, and with iron sights up, it all feels a little like Call of Duty 4. A single click on the left stick activates sprint, with no need for it to be held down as you run. Our demo also included an example of the game's Sixaxis support. At one point the game requires you to hold both of the top shoulder buttons and turn your wrists to the left to rotate an onscreen valve wheel.

Like many other games, Killzone 2 lets you revive a fallen teammate if you're sufficiently close, and during the advance on a well-fortified hill position, we were forced out of our cover to get comrades back in the action. The demo also showed off the game's buddy system, which, as in Army of Two, helps you access out-of-reach places. Your comrades can help you onto a ledge, from which point you can then help them up too. If you jump down again, the roles are reversed, with the AI dropping a hand to pull you back up and out of harm's way, if needed.

We've seen the game running on previous occasions, and it has advanced by leaps and bounds in terms of delivering on the now-legendary video shown back at E3 2005. Particle effects are looking impressive, with smoke thick and plumed. While blowing up a barrel may give you a tactical advantage by taking out a bunch of guys standing near it, it won't be long before you realise doing so will severely affect your ability to see through the smoke it will create. Enemy and team character models are looking solid. We did notice a slight pixelation of Helghast soldiers at range when cycling the scope, but we're putting that down to the pre-alpha nature of the code on show.

The game still has plenty of development time, and each milestone is bringing it closer to what was originally shown all those years ago. Most importantly, the team appears to be doing a brilliant job of re-creating the scope and impact felt in war movies.

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