Touted as the PS2’s answer to Halo, Killzone is set in the near future with Earth being invaded by the Helghast. It is a squad-based first person shooter with the aim to repel the invaders, mostly by blasting them to pieces, but has it got what it takes to unseat Halo 2?
Like Halo, graphically, Killzone is awesome. The overall effect is amongst the best graphically on the PS2. The cutscenes are very smooth, with an outstanding use of light and dark to add authenticity to the environment. The first thing that hit me was the Third Reich-esque iconography - it is easy to picture the Nuremburg rally of 1938 with Hitler addressing his assembled Armies. Killzone has borrowed images from twentieth century conflict that add to the realism; the opening level is played out across land that could be France in 1914.
However, despite the excellent manipulation of the characters within the gaming environment, the gameplay can be rather linear - in that it’s not completely free form like you’d find in a PC game - and this seems to be a limiter in console gaming - you generally follow the path of the game and do what you are told, as in games such as Medal of Honor and the like.
Another plus here is multiplayer - online or offline action, which does add a little extra over other older FPSs, but you will need a network adapter or one of the new slim line units to play.
Moving on, the gameplay itself is fast and furious - the controls are simple, the ammo load outs are realistic enough - even if you can find yourself carrying more that one primary weapon and on the whole the experience is fun, but purists would question which soldier would carry a standard rifle, sniper rifle and possible one other. The weapons are all lovingly crafted, and most fitted with a secondary function - such as the grenade launcher or shotgun.
My problem with the controls comes in aiming - the sighting reticule on the regular weapons are general rather than accurate, so you seem to be shooting in the area of the enemy rather than right at him. It feels almost sloppy, but it seems to work well enough. It would be the one place that I would say more development is needed. Rumour has it that Killzone is nothing more than a beta for Killzone 2 under development, but who knows - perhaps we’ll be blessed with a PS3 before too long.
Visually, Killzone must be wringing almost everything out of the PS2. It might have been the remnants of my hangover, but I’m certain that when you sprint in Killzone, your vision goes a bit - your peripherals are blurred.
Another interesting feature is when you get shot, you get the flash of red which lets you get a feel for where the shot came from and you are temporarily shocked. It means you can’t just run into the enemy taking bullets, because you’d be a statistic far too quickly.
Overall, it looks and sounds excellent and my only gripe is the aiming. It’s great fun, worthy of a play, but it is mostly shoot and move, shoot and move, so not convincing enough to receive the holy grain of the pocket-lint Hot Product award.