Before I start our Killzone review, let it be known that nobody here at DailyGame was ever known to utter the phrase “Halo killer” in reference to Killzone. We’ve never even heard Sony use that term before, so frankly, it seems strange to even try to compare the two, especially since they are completely different games.
With that said, you will now read a review free of those Halo comparisons. We’re instead going to let Killzone stand on its own merits – which unfortunately aren’t many. When you’ve got solid PlayStation 2 titles like SOCOM II, Red Faction and Rainbow Six 3 out there, this game just doesn’t cut it. There was a lot of promise in Killzone, but due to bugs, graphical glitches and some annoying gameplay issues, it feels like all we got was promise, and far from a complete product.
Before the flames fill my inbox, let me be the first to say I really had high hopes for this game. I was looking forward to Sony’s first first-party FPS for the PS2 that went beyond titles such as Red Faction. Maybe I’m wording this a bit too strongly, but I will say this: Killzone went from offering amazing amounts of promise to delivering an average shooter with dullard AI, weird graphical glitches and an overall lack of excitement.
I’m not going to spend too much time on the story, since it lacks any real meat to make it worth thinking about. In short, you’ve got the happy happy ISA and the mean and nasty Helghast. The Helghast are very militaristic and feel they need revenge upon the ISA for abandoning them to less-than-livable worlds. Helghast invade, and you as the ISA team defend. A few attempts at spicing up the plot with twists and turns rear their head, but you’re too busy surviving the action to pay attention. In sum, the storyline is like 99% of the other FPS titles out there and lends very little to the overall gameplay.
So far as the gameplay, it’s a by-the-numbers shooter. Grab weapons, fire weapons, reload weapons. Try not to get hit (which isn’t that challenging, due to the dumb as dirt AI), and keep unloading on the bad guys. Now, hitting those bad guys can be a challenge, as it seems like targeting is always off. Aim dead on for the head, and watch as you completely miss. Aim for the body, and watch as you completely miss.
And don’t get me started on the sniper rifle, which is required to get through parts of the game. It’s the weirdest sniping action I’ve ever seen, as it floats too much and is nearly impossible to use in heavy action. If Guerrilla wanted a realistic bit of sniping action, they should’ve given Zipper a call, and asked how they did it in SOCOM. Instead, Guerrilla created a mess of a weapon that will inspire hours of controller throwing. It’s one thing to have a bad element in the gameplay; it’s quite another to make using that element a requirement to get through certain levels. Grenades are likewise frustrating, as they do marginal damage compared to what you’d expect.
As you continue through the game, you’ll sign on some teammates, who are helpful in most situations as they are nearly impervious to enemy bullets, but are, for the most part, dumb as rocks. They get in the way, aim inconsistently and are generally not needed. They could’ve made this a solo action title and nobody would have noticed the difference.
When it comes to presentation values, the PS2 really takes a beating visually from Killzone. Guerrilla tried hard to push the PS2 hardware, and unfortunately, this game shows the limits of that hardware. Beautifully rendered environments, particle effects and great atmospherics feel push the PS2 to its apparent breaking point. The breaking point becomes evident at you’ll see graphical tearing, sluggish framerates and plenty of pop-up. I can forgive a few graphical issues, so long as they don’t affect gameplay, and that’s the problem, these issues do hinder the gameplay.
There are times when the framerate gets to the point where you feel like you’re walking in syrup. It’s far too inconsistent, which gets frustrating as you go from the incredibly visceral feel of the weapons (especially the realism of reloading and the great camera angles) to moving so slowly that you check to see if your controller is connected properly. The sound comes off much better, with good through predictable voice work and excellent effects. When you fire a weapon, you really feel it, both visually and audibly, which jacks the realism up a good bit.
Due to the graphical glitches and the inconsistent hit-detection, online gameplay is an exercise in frustration. Every game devolves into pure mayhem as all players use their guns as bullet hoses, spraying environments in desperate hope of hitting anything, even a teammate, just to say they scored a kill. We had played the online beta many months ago, and had read the promises that hit detection issues would be fixed, and yet, it doesn’t seem like they ever were.
Killzone leaves me scratching my head and wondering what happened. Having played preview builds and seen plenty of action at E3, I just can’t figure out why it was shipped in this condition. When you compare it to fantastically polished titles like Jak III and Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal, Killzone feels like a title that had at least six months remaining before it was ready to ship, yet was shoved out the door early to make deadlines. It’s a cake that is someone forgot to put in the oven. Killzone is marvelously on the surface, but underneath that atmospheric skin, it comes off as an average shooter with some annoying glitches. Here’s to hoping Sony graces us with SOCOM III before the PS3 ships, so we can see action gaming in all its glory on the PS2.
- Gameplay: 6.9
- Vanilla FPS action coupled with uninspired weapons and duller than dishwater AI makes for an overall generic feel.
- Graphics: 7
- Beautiful environments and character models, but pop-up, tearing and other graphical bugs make it tough to play at times.
- Sound: 8
- Great sound, good voicework.
- Replay: 4
- Online multiplayer could’ve given it some replay, but the multiplayer is just as buggy as single, and leaves you feeling frustrated.
- Overall: 6.5
- Generic gameplay coupled with some graphical bugs and linear missions equals something only the developer could love