Video game review number one hundred and thirty eight in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Killzone 2".
I'm starting this review before I've started the game. Why? Because every fucking time I boot my PS3, it needs a system update. It's taking another one right now, so I'm killing time by watching Con Air. It's the part of the movie where they land the plane in the middle of the Las Vegas strip (spoilers). Along the descent, the plane passes the Stratosphere, then the Hard Rock, Circus Circus, Barbary Coast and Treasure Island (in that order). Eventually, they have a big chase (involving a tunnel I've never seen in the city) with a fire truck and end up somewhere between the Sands and the Stardust. I'm never bothered by the fact that they land a plane in the middle of a crowded city street, or that they have an awesome chase with motorcycles and firetrucks....I'm just bothered that they didn't get the geography of the city right. Those casinos are all so far away from each other, it's just silly.
Anyway, I bring this up because in the end of the movie (spoilers again)....Nicolas Cage gives his daughter this dirty stuffed animal that he bought in prison and has just picked up out of the gutter. It means a lot to him because the bunny is the only gift he could buy while in prison, and it's his daughter's birthday. He's meeting his daughter for the first time ever, and he's hoping this present might just win her over.
Killzone 2 is a lot like that dirty stuffed bunny. I realize the folks who made this game went through an awful lot of trouble to get it to me, but frankly...I'm not impressed. They have failed to earn my love.
The game starts out with an awesome opening movie that instantly hooked me in. It's a war between worlds, you're getting onto a spaceship and you're about to go off and fight. It reminded me of the beginning of Starship troopers, except instead of bugs...you're off to fight scary dudes wearing gas masks with red goggles
Unfortunately, at heart, this is still just a shooter on the PS3, and I have a history of hating these things because of the controller. This one is no different.
The first thing I did was change the default controls to something different. I wanted the triggers to be the fire buttons (like the 360) and the grenades and stuff to be on the shoulder buttons. This was easy enough to change...but it's still not quite the same as my 360 experience. I'm told you can use a 360 controller on the PS3 somehow, and one of these days, I'm going to have to try it to see if it makes games like this better. I just don't enjoy playing them on this console.
Awkward controls aside, I jumped into the game and started playing. There is no radar, and no heads up objective system, so you must rely on shit your teammates say if you want to know what to do. They'll say things like "You have to blow up the bridge, get that RPG"...only you're not sure where they are or which RPG they're referring to. You stumble around until Eventually, you find it, and then you blow the bridge and move on. The first level was a lot of that for me.
After a little more time, I got to this really cool scene where I got to drive a tank. One of my soldiers says "Shoot down their tank!", but I couldn't find the damn thing. I spun around in circles and never saw it...until eventually it fired at me and I realized it was up a hill that I didn't even know was in a playable area. So annoying. Part of my inability to find objectives might be because the whole game is just so damn grey and gritty...it's hard to tell one thing apart from the next. It reminds me of what Gears of War might be like if it was stripped of everything that made it a vibrant, captivating world with a soul.
Speaking of souls, you have a squad of teammates, and I think you're supposed to care about them, but I didn't think any of the characters were that interesting. They say "fuck" and "shit" a lot (which is funny until it's quickly not). Maybe if I'd played the first one, I'd care more about these guys...but honestly, I wasn't instantly interested in any of them. The enemies are all identical too, so nothing to be scared of there. Just a bunch of guys in red goggles, who all seem to speak in the same voice. If you contrast the characters in this game with great teams of soldiers (like the ones I met recently in Bad Company, Modern Warfare 2 or even the aforementioned Gears of War) and this game is just "blah" by comparison.
I finished off the tanks, exited the first level, and realized I have no desire at all to keep on playing. I've got a bunch of new games to try out this weekend, and I don't want to waste anymore time on one I'm not enjoying.
Overall Score? 4/10. It's an average shooter (I once heard Sony hyping this thing as a Halo killer...which would make me spit out my milk if I happened to be drinking some while I was writing this). This game is bland, ordinary...and is nowhere near the quality of other shooters I've played recently. Amplify that by the fact that I HATE using the PS3 controller for shooters, and you have a craptastic experience I didn't care to spend more than 30 or 45 minutes with. I'm headed back to the Wii now.
Trophies? I earned one, but it hasn't synched yet...so I'll have to come back to finish this later.
Edit---5/30/2010. For some reason, this trophy still isn't displaying right, but at least PSN now knows that I've unlocked a trophy. That's progress, I suppose.
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