The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Killzone 2 is the best-looking shooter on the PS3, which puts it in the running for best looking shooter ever. Even better, the game doesn't fall back on its visual splendor, but offers tense, polished gunplay that sets it beside the other great console combat games. The campaign is a machismo-laden chest thumper, with a story that exists largely to move the character from one impressive locale to the next. A frequently intense but occasionally frustrating multiplayer component fleshes out the experience. With the exception of its stunning graphics, Killzone 2 doesn't do a whole lot that you haven't seen before in other titles. But what it does do, it does with aplomb.
The first Killzone involved an invasion by the vicious, red-eyed Helghast onto the planet of Vecta. This sequel turns the tables, with the ISA military soaring across space to depose the dangerous dictator who started the war in the first place. As Sev, an elite soldier in the invasion, you're thrown into one desperate scenario after another, from breaching a city's defenses to a running firefight along a speeding cargo train. While the game tries hard to give some credence to the characters, most of them exist to do one of two things: shout inflammatory curses at the bad guys or get blown up in a dramatic explosion. The campaign never ceases overloading your senses with constant action, and the chaos outdoes most games on the market. Simultaneously, there's a disregard for any sense of pacing in the gameplay. It's hard for that exploding building to have much ''wow'' effect when another building just exploded 10 seconds ago. Still, it's hard to level too much criticism at an action game for having too much action.
Combat feels tight and the AI is suitably cunning, but too many of the commonly available firearms feel like a machine gun variant. I found myself wishing that the more unique weapons, like the electricity gun or the brutal flamethrower, showed up more frequently. The enemy Helghast are fast, vicious, and clever, and have the unfortunate characteristic of all looking almost identical to each other. Only a few occasional enemies are fundamentally different, which is frustrating in a sci-fi setting where more imaginative enemies would hardly stretch the fiction.
The strong multiplayer game plays out across sprawling levels – it's clear that Guerilla envisions large-scale conflicts as their bread and butter. Objectives are constantly shifting, from demolition tasks to assassination targets to straightforward deathmatch scenarios. Static spawn points are a real drag during some objectives, when a single death sends you back for another two-minute run to get back into the fight. Even so, the PvP combat is solid and engaging, and a robust class and leveling system equals any of its competitors.
Killzone 2 is a fantastic addition to the PS3 catalogue. It makes good on the promise of its original unveiling nearly four years ago through unceasing action and breathtaking visual fidelity. It doesn't change our level of expectation for all first-person shooters, but it does give us all a good reason to keep playing them.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.
Killzone 2 was designed with a singular vision: throw players headfirst into hellfire, and keep them pinned down until the credits roll. Through thunderous gunplay and a new benchmark for PlayStation 3 visuals, this game never wavers in its ability to produce heart-pounding excitement. The intensity is suffocating, making you feel that every shot matters, every move must be carefully orchestrated, and that it's going to take every bit of your mettle to survive. The single-player campaign story is forgettable, and the squad banter beats you over the head with the stupid-stick far too often, but the weapon play and epic firefights are more than enough to keep you charging into battle. The multiplayer component is equally powerful, offering an extensive ranking system, and the same amazing level of graphical fidelity found in the campaign. The maps are designed to create bottleneck firefights, but spawn points tend to be too far removed from these locations. Killzone 2 doesn't hit the target with all of its shots, but when it does, it blows the target away.