Sony Pre-E3 2008: Killzone 2 Impressions

Today, Ricardo, myself, and Jim Maybury headed down to Los Angeles for a look at the games that Sony will have at E3 this year. Ricardo will be along in a bit to discuss his part in the whole E3 judges stuff but, as a non-judge, I was just in town to check out some cool games. And, make no mistake,...

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Today, Ricardo, myself, and Jim Maybury headed down to Los Angeles for a look at the games that Sony will have at E3 this year. Ricardo will be along in a bit to discuss his part in the whole E3 judges stuff but, as a non-judge, I was just in town to check out some cool games. And, make no mistake, Killzone 2 is cool. I hadn't seen the game since Leipzig last year and, just like everyone, I've still got the memories of that legendary E3 2005 trailer (good Lord, has it really been three years?) still in my head.

As it turns out, the pre-alpha demo build of Killzone 2 on-hand today did feature a remarkably faithful opening that hearkened back to that trailer--though it should be noted that the level on which that trailer is based (and the demo level I played today) is actually the second level in the game. For whatever reason, that fact surprised me, as it always seemed to me that frantic frenetic pace of the E3 trailer was exactly the tone you'd want to set for the game early on. Punch the player in the face early, and let them stretch their legs after their nose is bleeding, and all that. As it turns out, Killzone 2's first level will be a training tutorial of sorts before dropping you into the real action of level two.

Still, whatever level it is, it certainly packs a punch. As you glide in on your lander, having watch the enemy take out multiple allied landers all around you, you can't help but wonder what else will be in store for you once you hit the ground. In fact, what's waiting for you is tons of vaguely Nazi-looking bad guys with orange goggles, intent on blasting you to Kingdom Come.

Things I Liked:

- The setting. The mechanical architecture of the surroundings adds a proper level of militaristic grimness to the surroundings. Even the muted color palette of greys and blacks works for me, though I'm not sure it would work for an entire game.

- The feel of the weapons. This one is always tricky for me; it's a mixture of animation, sound, and feedback from the controller itself, and it's a balance that not ever game gets. Even Call of Duty 4 didn't meet the standards set by games like Half-Life and Half-Life 2, which are the epitome for me. Killzone 2's weapons feel satisfying right away.

- The enemy AI. One time, this futuristic Nazi guy tried to flank me, sneaking around a corner to try and get behind me so he could put me down. Luckily, I caught him moving around the corner at the last moment. He caught a bullet in the face for his trouble, but I appreciated the effort on his behalf.

Things I Disliked:

- As much as I dig the sci-fi Nazi look of the enemy troops in the game, there's not much in the way of variety.

- I wish the assault rifle I favored had more bullets in the clip. Seriously, even when trying to contain my fire to short bursts, it seems like I was reloading way too much.

- The twist-the-valve wheel mini-game. Here, you had to press L1 and R1 to grasp the valve, then twist the Sixaxis to turn it. Then let go of L1/R1, set the Sixaxis back and press the two buttons again to re-grasp the valve. Lather, rinse, repeat. Bah.

Things I'm Not Sure About:

- The buddy assist system. Here you can help your allies access areas they couldn't normally reach and vice verse. I only saw it in action once, when my buddy helped haul me up a wall. It might be a big part of the latter parts of the game but it felt sort of tacked on in the demo.

- The green targeting reticle on my rifle? Really? Green? I don't know why this bugs me. But green?

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