One of the most anticipated PlayStation 3 titles to date, Killzone 2 was introduced to us a few years ago at E3 '05 with a promise of visual eye candy and a sequel that will smash all expectations of its predecessor. We just happened to get our grubby little hands on the Beta version of Killzone 2 and from what we've seen so far, it looks promising.
A lot of talk and rumors began weeding their way into the mouths of PS3 fans everywhere at the initial unveiling of the first Killzone 2 video, as it was like nothing anyone's ever seen in a console video game before. In a word, it was pure, visual bliss. As it turns out, a lot of the skeptics were indeed correct; the video turned out to be a CG render, after all. This upset a lot of people and many wondered if Guerrilla Games could reproduce anything even remotely close to the graphics they had originally shown. GG set the bar quite high for themselves and now we're finally able to see firsthand if all their hard work has paid off.
As it turns out, GG is taking no prisoners with a no holds barred attempt to smash their previous title with better controls, better animation, and better everything than they did with the original installment of Killzone. Do the graphics measure up to the CG video we witnessed years ago? From what we've seen, it comes pretty damn close. If this is any indication of what the final product will be, the graphics could very well match, or even surpass those visuals.
After downloading and installing the 460 MB Beta file, I was quite surprised by how in-depth the game was. The developers this time around have taken hints from popular FPS games such as Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4. Killzone 2 offers a lot more than before. Every statistic you can think of is tracked in the game, which a lot of score junkies will appreciate. You can easily create clans and communicate with your clan mates. The best thing about the Beta (aside from the actual game itself) is the reward system. Starting off as a grunt with only a handful of weapons at your disposal, you will slowly move your way up to the ranks of Helghast or ISA. Later on in the game, you'll be able to unlock new weapons, new character classes, attack drones, and more. There's even an in-game achievement system for those of you who can get X number of kills using specific weapons, zone defenses, assassinations, etc. Obtaining these achievement badges/ribbons also provides you with special bonuses. Clearly, if you put your time in, the game experience becomes even more varied and challenging.
Getting online is a cinch. There were a few network errors, but that was my first night online. Since then, I've played in several 32-player matches on the huge, detailed maps with no noticeable lag whatsoever. The network code here is solid. There's always plenty of matches going on with the various servers, so finding a battle will be a snap.
Now, none of this would matter if the game was atrocious, but the game is amazing. After selecting teams and a map, it's time to get into the thick of things. A typical game is split up into 5-minute modes. This means you may start off with orders from your commander to assassinate a specific target from the other team. If you kill the target in less than 5 minutes, your team is awarded a point. If the other team keeps their target alive, then they get the point. The next mission is announced live during the match and the game's strategy changes with it. We get various missions such as Search and Retrieve, Search and Defend, and Search and Destroy that are played within the same multiplayer round. With all these modes switching on the fly, it really changes the dynamics to the game and so far it's immensely enjoyable. Search and Retrieve is my personal favorite. It requires you to grab a propaganda speaker from the enemy territory. If you listen to what's being said while you're carrying the propaganda speaker, it's pretty clear that the main game will have a lot of political undertones. When you have a good team and a Bluetooth headset, you'll have some pretty epic multiplayer battles.