Going back to Killzone 2


With the shrill buzz of E3 still ringing in our ears, it can be difficult to engage with anything that isn’t new. But these games that get so much attention on launch day often hide much more than the headlines suggest. Revisiting old games – once the hype has died down – has become something of a hobby for me. More often than not I am surprised with what I find.

With a hugely impressive 3D rendering of Helghan still bright in our eyes from the Sony E3 Presser, Jon Seddon, the Dressup Gamer, went back to see how well Killzone 2 stands up today.

Although Killzone 2 PS3 struggled to match the hype on release, returning to it let me discover a much more immersive experience that really connected with my love of role-play. Sure it’s a shooter – but the visceral world it creates makes for a much more theatrical story.

Killzone 2 obviously set itself an incredibly high bar when footage first rolled in a now long past E3 presentation. This was the main talking point when the game finally released in early 2009. There are still very few games that start with the punch of Killzone 2, plunging you into a ferocious war resplendent with booming explosions and millions of polygons flying about the screen.

But presentation is just a part of the experience here. Perhaps more impressive is that it also feels unique, despite the trappings of generic space marine combat. The controls give your character heft and whilst I initially struggled to tame my heavy rifle, it wasn’t long before combat felt dangerous and convincing in a way other shooters seem to miss. It reminded me a little of Black at the tail end of the PS2’s life.

The cover mechanic in Killzone 2 was great. I could easily snap to cover, but retain enough freedom to fire over and round before moving to the next position. All the while, character movement adds to the illusion that began with pyrotechnics. This sense of immersion is partially due to inertia and partially due to the excellent camera movement, which will show hands and feet as you clear obstacles.

Killzone 2’s sense of presence in the world is increase by your effect on its stage. With much of the environment superficially destructible the place you barrel through soon looks the worse for wear. Not quite to the level of Battlefield Bad Company 2, but the flying debris and particles made my lungs feel constricted by dust as a grenades exploded around me.

It was unusual for me to warm to a game like this – particularly where the story is stilted and hammy. But where the narrative fell down, the visceral reality compensated by creating such a sense of place that I could completely get into the role I was playing.

I could enjoy playing my character in this theatre of war right up to the end. Here though, the plot takes a turn for the ridiculous, which finally took me out of the experience. I almost wished that I hadn’t actually played that portion of the game, which is never a good way to bring things to a conclusion.

When I originally played Killzone 2, it was obviously a well made shooter, but didn’t distinguish itself from the pack. Looking back on it now though, I am struck by the beauty of its industrial wastelands and the ear-splitting cacophony of battles.

With greater understanding of the unique controls and therefore how it should be played, I thoroughly enjoyed my second play through. I was surprised how much my role-play itch was scratched by the war torn stage it creates. I would urge anyone that hasn’t played it yet to go and pick up a copy and sink into the role of an ISA soldier.

Jon found quite a different experience to that initially advertised for Killzone 2 – one concerned much more with the player’s role and game’s setting than impressive filmic cut scenes or multiplayer modes. Most interesting though, these elements of the game were a much better fit to his gaming tastes – and he would never have known they were there from the hype.

I’m sure there are other games that hide within them elements that didn’t make it high enough up the list to get the marketing attention they deserve. Have you uncovered any surprises replaying high profile games, or are there games you think are worthy of playing again for particular types of players?

Game People is a rag tag bunch of artisans creating awesomely bizarre reviews from across the pond.

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