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Killzone
Score: 73%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: First Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:
There has been a lot of hype built-up around Guerilla Games' first-person shooter titled Killzone. Unfortunately for it, this is one of those times when a decent game will seem far worse than it is because it fails to live up to the ďhype machine.Ē While a good game in its own right, Killzone simply wonít compete with other FPS's releasing such as Halo 2 and Half-life 2.

Graphics are Killzoneís strongest point. With the limited and convoluted power of the PlayStation 2, the team at Guerilla was forced to employ many tricks to maximize the visual presentation of the game. I must say the end result is fantastic. And while the engine may be as technically powerful as its competitors, it does amazing things with what it has, and produces a wonderfully gritty dystopia. The special effects, explosions, fog, and blur effects all make Killzone very attractive. Unfortunately it also suffers from some frequent frame-rate slowdowns, and since aiming with an analog controller is usually hard to begin with, this can make the game downright infuriating at times. You know where the enemy is and have a clear shot, but canít take it because the aiming reticule wonít stop square on the enemy.

The pre-rendered cut-scenes are some of the better moments of the game. The opening succeeds very well in getting the blood pumping for some killing action.

The music during these scenes is also memorable enough. Aside from that, Iíve never really found an FPS with music or a sound effect that really inspired or impressed me, and Killzone is no exception. Fast paced soundtracks, explosions, gunfire... itís all there, but thereís nothing that makes it stand out, good or bad.


Gameplay:
I like to think you can generally categorize a first-person shooter into one of two camps. You have your run-and-gun style FPS and your tactical FPS. Run-and-gun style FPSís are similar to the originals; games such as Doom, Quake, and, to a lesser extent, Halo and Half-life 2. You run in, guns blazing, and take on the evil hoards. The flipside are the tactical FPS's. These are the ones where if you arenít careful, youíll die, and die very, very quickly. If you go in guns blazing, you wonít live more than a few moments. Getting close to even one enemy in Killzone usually results in about a third of your health going bye-bye unless youíre quick on the trigger. Much of the game will be spent looking for guys from afar and taking them out.

This type of realism is a double edged sword. Itís a sad fact that for a large portion of the game, youíre going up against exactly the same type of enemy the entire time. This enemy is called the Helghast, a militaristic separatist faction. However, each Helghast looks, and acts, more or less the same. Part of what made games like Doom and Half-life so fun was the wide variety of enemies you would run across. After around the fifth stage, you are going to be sorely bored of shooting Helghast in the head with the same two to three guns. Oh sure, they have things like sniper rifles and bazookas, but these are the exception rather than the rule. Additionally, you can only hold three weapons at once, but thatís generally more than enough. In cases where you would absolutely require an item like a sniper rifle or a bazooka, thereís usually one nearby.

This tedium is made even more unfortunate by the fact that Killzone could have been a wonderful game had it been a bit more story driven. Several elements of the game seem to hint at and flaunt a larger story that never actually comes through. Things such as the malevolent presentation of the Helghast leader, along with the positive and negative relationship between player characters all seem to set up larger conflicts and stories that are never quite carried through to fruition. Maybe playing Metal Gear Solid 3 alongside Killzone made for unfair comparisons, but thatís my story and Iím sticking to it.


Difficulty:
You have to watch your step in Killzone or youíll find yourself in very big trouble. Enemies are very good shots, and if youíre not careful, you could find yourself losing some health rather frequently. You will regain health up to a point automatically, in addition to being able to find the rare health item. The real difficulty is in trying not to move forward too quickly. Itís extraordinarily easy to miss a few guys off to the side and suddenly find yourself surrounded. If that happens, itís usually game over. Iíve also never had an FPS where I loved my grenades as much as Killzone. One soldier canít kill you nearly as fast as six.

Game Mechanics:
Killzone is pretty standard in just about every respect. The control scheme is the typical setup; left analog controls movement, right analog aims. You have a shoot button, a reload button, a sprint button, and so forth. Where the game really separates itself is the inclusion of multiple-player characters. I canít think of an FPS that had multiple single-player characters that gave vastly different styles of play. I donít doubt there may be one, but I donít know about it. Templar is your general all-around guy and the character you will play as the vast majority of the time. Once you finally meet them, you can also choose from Rico and Lugar. Rico is slow and uses the big guns, while Lugar is his opposite and relies on stealth. Later on, you will also gain access to Hakha, a half-Helghast operative. Different characters will also go through levels in different ways, which lends some depth to the game.

The game does pick up considerably in the middle and near the end, but the stretches in between can get a little boring. Killzone seems to lack that fantastical element that can help to draw you into a game. Itís realistic without the realism, and leaves something to be desired. Whatís there isnít bad though, and if you like FPS's and are a hardcore PS2 fan, Killzone may be the game for you.


-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

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