Almost four years have passed since Sony first unveiled Killzone 2, their vastly darker answer to the Halo franchise. In gaming terms, four years is an eternity, but Guerilla Games' gritty shooter is finally here to deliver a kickass experience that more than rewards us for our patience.
Killzone 2: one man army
There are numerous occasions in Killzone 2's single-player campaign where you'll be sitting with your mouth agape, particularly when something brand new is thrown at you.
In one particularly memorable mission you're running around an outdoor Mars-like environment vaporizing onrushing Helghast in a mech that resembles the one Ripley uses at the end of Aliens to slay the alien queen-oh, but the mech in Killzone 2 is armed with a missile launcher and a machine gun.
There are several other scenarios that work well to break up the monotony of killing enemies in the same fashion over and over again, such as fighting atop a moving Helghast mining train, ripping ground troops to shreds with the devastating force of an anti-air gun (mulching enemies with a weapon designed to take down airplanes is so damn gratifying), and even some grueling boss battles here and there.
In terms of combat, Killzone 2 is not a game where you can survive by just running straight into enemy hordes with guns blazing. Borrowing a page from Gears of War, KZ2 requires constant use of cover to soak up enemy bullets as you move from one huge shootout to the next; for those of you who like to get up close and personal, the game does let you you decapitate enemies with a shotgun at point blank range but staying behind cover is key to surviving.
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Killzone 2: Call of Duty who?
Of course, once you finish off the epic single-player mode, there's Killzone 2's elaborately customisable multiplayer component to keep you satisfied.
The multiplayer experience is clearly designed to empower the player to play the game however they like. If you're feeling competitive you can start or join a clan, scheduling matches ahead of time and tracking your clan's progress online.
There's also a lot of incentive to explore this aspect of Killzone 2 as a rewards system is in place to encourage you to play the game online. But if you're like me and you loathe getting creamed by super skilled 12-year-olds online, you can just play locally with your buddies, putting in bots to populate the game's maps.
You can also set the difficulty of the AI characters you put in matches. If you're a fan of multiplayer FPS games like Call of Duty, you're going to want to jump into what Killzone 2 has to offer.
Despite Killzone 2's numerous positive qualities, it's not a perfect game. The biggest concern is the frame rate issue that occurs when the game is loading up a new area. Aiming at enemy targets that are at a distance can also be frustrating if you're not carrying a sniper rifle, especially for FPS vets accustomed to the precise aiming featured in games like Call of Duty. However, most of these drawbacks are relatively minor and are overshadowed by what the game gets right, which is a lot.