Killzone. The “Halo killer”. The game that was supposed to be Sony’s big exclusive franchise that would make us all forget about Halo. Well, that didn’t happen, since the first game in the series turned out to be quite the mediocre game, at best. One has to question what Sony’s motive was for even making a sequel to it. Maybe they thought the developers could fix their mistakes from the first time around and deliver the game the original Killzone should’ve been.
Well, that didn’t happen. What we got was a textbook example of style over substance, a game that looks good in videos but is absolutely terrible in practice. Killzone 2 hardly does anything right, and if you’ll bear with me, I’ll explain why.
The campaign is an endless slog through a series of brain-dead enemies that are so mentally challenged that they often forget you exist in the middle of a shootout. But don’t worry; Killzone 2’s answer for this is to throw them at you by the dozens. This wouldn’t be so irritating if they didn’t soak up bullets and flak like they were made of Kevlar on the higher difficulties. Or maybe if your squadmates weren’t equally stupid or maybe if their guns actually did decent amounts of damage (if they could aim the fucking things to begin with). Or maybe if, in a game with the familiar two weapon loadout, your choice of sidearm wasn’t so piss weak against them. Never before have I encountered a revolver in a game that can’t drop a standard infantryman with an entire cylinder’s worth of rounds.
This game isn’t fun to play through particularly because it’s held back by some of the most awful gunplay and controls I’ve experienced on a console shooter. Everything is heavy and sluggish to the point that the simple act of aiming becomes a chore. I feel like I’m slogging through molasses playing this game and aiming feels slippery and imprecise like Perfect Dark Zero. Plus, I did not like the first person cover system at all. I understand the idea that switching to a third person view would’ve broken the immersion but I’d rather have some immersion breaking than having to deal with this. It’s unique, but it isn’t good.
Some may say “it’s meant to be realistic!” but quite frankly, if this is “realism”, I’ll stick to games like Halo, Battlefield and Call of Duty. You know, fun shooters. If I wanted realism in a shooter done right, I’d play ArmA. But I don’t. So screw that game too.
But that’s not even the worst part about Killzone 2. No. The worst is yet to come.
The worst thing about this game is that Rico Velasquez exists within it. Rico, the king of all dumb, pea-brained meatheads, a man who can’t go more than thirty seconds without uttering his favorite word. Fuck. A man who, in any competent military, would’ve been court-martialed and imprisoned as far away from any conflict as possible. From the very start I knew he would be a bad character but I didn’t know just how bad he’d be until his reaction to a locked door and being too dumb to know how to open it (which is apparently as easy as opening it and pulling all the wires out…seriously) was “Fuck this!”, followed immediately by shooting the control panel with his LMG.
When I think of the worst characters in gaming history from here on, Rico will always pop into my head. Fuck Rico. I’ve never hated a character in gaming as much as I hate Rico. He makes Black/Latino people look bad. No, scratch that. He makes people look bad.
But it all comes down to the writing. Sure, his voice actor was about as far from merely decent as one can get but you have to consider the tripe he had to work with. I refuse to believe he sat down in the booth to record his lines and decided to ad-lib every single one of the “fucks” he utters throughout the campaign. No, a team of writers had to write this for him. It was in the fucking script (shit, it’s contagious). At least in, say, Gears of War, you could sense some degree of self-awareness in the characters, like even they know how badly they’re hamming it up (Well, until Gears of War 2 happens and everything takes a turn for the ridiculously melodramatic). Killzone 2’s writing is almost universally bad, from the cliché filled and nonsensical plot, the disgustingly cheesy one-liners and the one dimensional characters.
And then there’s Sergeant Sevchenko, the protagonist. A guy who’s mostly silent throughout the game except to crack wise, scream for a medic once his buddy gets shot and collapses from his injury and yell “Rico, no!” every time Rico and his idiot brain decides to fuck things up for everyone.
At best, the characters in Killzone 2 are throwaways; more than a stone’s throw away from decent but mostly inoffensive. They’re stock characters. You’ve got your dumb meathead; you’ve got your smart-ish meathead who can “hack” doors open for you and ends up dying because of Rico’s idiocy, you’ve got your heroic colonel who will inevitably and pointlessly sacrifice himself for the cause and go down with the ship (literally) and you’ve got your evil colonel who speaks in a calm, eloquent manner and with a distinctly posh British accent, further exacerbating his evilness. But don’t worry; the game turns him into a gigantic pussy by making him, the illustrious and evil Colonel Radec, off himself rather than dying nobly in battle with his adversaries. This is the action of a coward, not a never-say-die Colonel.
A lot of hoopla was made about Killzone 2’s graphics being hot shit when it came out. And maybe back in 2009, it was. For a console game, I can imagine this was pretty impressive stuff. Now, however, I really don’t know why people fawned over it. It’s ugly, to say the least; an endless morass of brown and grey with some decent lighting and shadowing tricks thrown in for spice, some nice looking fire rounded out with gross, low-res textures to say the most. Perhaps I would be able to forgive this if the game ran at a decent clip but it doesn’t even do that right. Sure, it manages 30fps most of the time but the framerate has the disgusting tendency to nosedive when things get hectic, most obnoxiously during the final mission, which nearly got me killed on more than one occasion.
The only saving grace Killzone 2 has is in its multiplayer. Somehow, by some sort of black magic, the controls become tolerable and the game is genuinely fun. But since the online community for Killzone 2 has all but one limb in the grave at this point, there’s little reason to bother with it.
In conclusion, fuck this game. I didn’t want to hate it but after finishing the campaign on Veteran, which I shouldn’t have bothered with since you get no further bonuses for doing that as opposed to completing it on lower difficulties, I do. Maybe it’s because I played this nearly four years after its release, during which time I’ve played many much better shooters. No, the game was crap then and is crappier now that the multiplayer is a ghost town.
Maybe Killzone 3 will be the game that finally gets it right. Maybe. I’ve heard complaints (!) that the controls were tightened and reworked so maybe Guerilla Games came to their senses and made a game that’s actually fun. It’s on my shelf, ready to be played, but after the bad taste Killzone 2 left in my mouth, I’m in no hurry. But the important thing is that this game sucks. Avoid it. Even if all you want is a multiplayer shooter, there are far better options than this tripe.
And fuck Rico. Again.