Hype, a word used since the medieval
times. What does “hype” mean? Let’s ask our good old friend
Webster (no not adopted boy from the 80’s sitcom), shall we? Hype
- n - Excessive promotion, especially by extravagant, inflated or misleading claims. Ah,
so it seems that hype is something a videogame company would use to try and sell a product that may or may not live up to
its high standards. So it would seem that Guerilla games a virtual unknown
to the business, besides their horrendous Vietnam outing, Shellshock Nam’ 67, has dubbed their futuristic shooter
as the Halo-Killer, are they aware how much pain can be inflected onto them if Bill Gates were to "accidentally" drop an Xbox
on their craniums? I guess not.
Killzone resembles many run
of the mill action flicks of years past, with a Sci-Fi twist. Nasty looking morphed
humans called the “Helghast” invade Earth to try and dominate it and use if for their own (steaming hot Halo anybody?). When word hits Earth military forces (in this case the ISA) soldiers, rogue agents,
and vehicles mount up for action. You lead the force as Templer, a dominant, yet
headstrong soldier determined to prove himself as a worthy adversary. Along the
way you’ll pick up other allies that can become playable at the beginning of each level.
A total of four characters will be playable by the time the war is over, Templer, as mentioned before, Luger, a shadow
ops assasian, Rico, the profane, poised, and powerful walking tank who can take many bullets (and probably many alcoholic
beverages), and Hakka, a half-Helghast-half-human spy working as the man on the inside gathering information on the Helghast.
It’s your typical action popcorn
movie in a videogame shell. It’s full of explosions, bravery, and predictable
plot elements. Although there are a couple plot twists that you may or may not
pick up along the way, depending on the number of action films you went to see between 1985 and 2001.
What we have here is a game that is so
beautiful its ugly. A prom queen who is determined to look fantastic, even though
she has a pimple the size of a nickel on her forehead. Killzone offers
up gritty, (in a good way) dark environments with nice gun models and particle effects, but remember this is the PS2, and
this game pumps a lot of rendering through our Sony companion, but our little buddy just can’t keep up. While all these environments and textures look great standing still, as soon as you begin to move the frame-rate
will chug, bog, and attempt to push way more frames then it can. Now I can live
with that because some of the environments are down right awe-inspiring. There
is one certain level set high in a snowy mountain peak. You can literally see
the individual textures for each snowflake as they zoom past you. But there is also
one level that tries to better than the rest of the pack, but falls flat on it’s face. It’s
a jungle terrain, instead of using an engine that would support moving leaves, branches and so forth, Guerilla decided to
just make the walls of the levels…trees. There are even corners of walls made
of trees, and at times you can even see where the developers cut the textures to make the level, now that’s just bad
design. The whole level seems uninspired and ruins an otherwise flawless level
Enemies look intimidating with red glowing
eyes that look like they were stabbed by two flaming embers, and they breath threw black gas masks giving them a Darth Vader
like look to them. For a game with only one major threat, where the enemies all
look the same, theirs a surprising amount of variety in the enemies. Basic Helghast
soldiers, or as the game calls them “grunts” (more Halo anybody), “Elite” Helghast (Yeah,
could you pass the Halo please?), and Helghast pilots, commanders and Lieutenants all offer up a wide range of threats
to keep you on your toes at all times.
The story is decent, graphics are pretty
good, but the one category that Killzone succeeds with flying colors is the audio department. The level of realism is more than you will find in half the WWII shooters out there, or any game for that matter. Bullets whiz by your ears with alarming rate, enemy fire pierces the dirt as you dive for
safety, and the Helghast soldiers bark out demands in a deep, scratchy voice. All weapons
sound distinctively different, and give off more release as you fire.
The voice acting is right on key for
the “save the world” feel to the game. Templer has a commanding yet
subtle voice; Luger speaks with a British tongue, Rico speaks with a deep, gravely voice, and Hakka has a somewhat Scottish,
somewhat British accent. Helghast all sound the same, but speak in a way that is in a lot of ways chilling. Their voices are just so loud and scratchy that it keeps you on edge every time you round a corner or visit
a quiet section of a level.
Turrets, machine guns, pistols, and rocket
launchers all sound as close to realism as a Sci-Fi game can get, which is a somewhat puzzling factor since Killzone
is set in the distant future, but instead of plasma and laser beams, the soldiers use nothing more than lead bullets. Many people would wonder if this was a good move, but it manages to keep you in the
world without getting to high tech with things.
Killzone is a lengthy game;
it will take you more than your free weekend to complete and then some. It has a steady
difficulty through out, so it leaves you with a feeling of being a challenging game, but not a game that will have you spewing
profanities at your PS2.
As expected with most every shooter these
days you have multiple difficulty settings. Easy, Normal, and Hard. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the same format we’ve grown to know over the past few years. Killzone does offer up a few multiplayer elements, and online support, but it won’t
win any awards for it. It’s decent and a small addition to keep you busy
if you’re tired of the single player for a while.
So kids have we learned what hype is
today? It’s a clever marketing tool that can either make you look like
a slick businessman, or a ravaging idiot. Killzone is a game that does many things right, the story is spot on, the
sound design couldn’t be better, and the graphics, although giving the game some technical problems, are some of the
best on the PS2. It may not be the game that would dethrone the man in green, but it’ll keep him checking behind his
back as the inevitable Killzone 2 comes around.