Ever since Halo debuted on the Xbox, companies have been scrambling to find the game that would put that popular title out of the minds of players everywhere. This required a game that was as action packed as Bungie’s title, with an engaging storyline and plenty of features to make the game very replayable. Many companies tried to find the formula to beat Microsoft’s franchise title, and most of them have failed. Well, Sony’s been quietly biding their time, putting together their own Halo-Killer, and it’s quite possible that their latest title could put the nail in Master Chief’s coffin. Grab a hammer and some body armor, because it’s time to enter Killzone.
The storyline behind Killzone is set in the distant future, when humanity has left the confines of Earth behind for interplanetary colonization. Many worlds across the galaxy have been settled by humans, who’ve slowly started splintering into two separate factions. The ISA appear to be a more industrial and exploratory group, while the Helghast appear to be more conquest oriented and warlike. Well, it doesn’t take much to expect that the two groups would come into conflict because of their ideological issues. This is where our demo started, with the invasion of the planet of Vecta.
The first level opened with a brutal cutscene demonstrating a desperate defense launched by ISA troops against a massive onslaught of Helghast troops. Aside from a basic tutorial that informed us of the game controls, the game demonstrated one of the major features of the game design: Each one of Killzone’s levels are modeled after historical conflicts from the 20th century. For instance, Helghast Assault features plenty of trench warfare reminiscent of World War I. Players will have to navigate large channels snaking across the landscape with bullets flying past them and explosions rocking the ground. Accurately portraying the back and forth flow of this style of combat, players will often find themselves retreating from positions that are overrun, only to return shortly thereafter to retake lost ground. To cement your hold on real estate, you’ll also have to repel waves of Helghast from foxholes and dugouts as well as cover squadmates from incoming fire.
There are a number of weapons that appear to be available to players, some of which will appeal to gamers frustrated with Halo’s somewhat limited carrying scheme. First of all, players will be able to carry up to three weapons, apparently of any kind. For instance, while Templar seems to start out with a sidearm that looks like a futuristic 9mm Beretta, he can abandon this weapon for sniper rifles, semi automatic weapons and other arms. There will be a need to break out heavy artillery, and players will have to get used to the timing and patience needed to load and fire rocket launchers at tanks and other mobile Helghast platforms. This timing can also be used for effective deployment of your grenades against dug in opponents; grenades can be “cooked off” to detonate on impact, denying your targets time to seek cover, which they’ll actively seek to reduce inflicted damage. It also appears that Templar can salvage weapons from fallen opponents, which seem to have abandoned the need for accuracy for the desire of spraying an area with a large amount of firepower. With such a massive curtain of ammo being thrown at you, it’s a good thing that your soldier can regenerate a certain amount of health by standing still (in those few moments of calm on the field.
Regardless of any platforming bias you may have, Killzone is shaping up to be one of the best looking platform titles that’s ever been created. Character models are huge and extremely well defined. It’s incredible to see just how much this title can squeeze from the PS2, and no matter how many people talk about the age of the console, Killzone proves that there’s still plenty of titles left in Sony’s current piece of hardware. There’s also a significant amount of attention paid to the sound effects, which demonstrate significant echo effects and massive explosions. Killzone assaults store shelves a mere 7 days before Halo, and from what we can see, looks like it could steal a serious amount of thunder from Microsoft’s sequel in early November. Check back soon for a full review!
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