KillZone Review

PlayStation 2

May 23, 2005 by

KillZone Image

Playstation 2s answer to the highly acclaimed Xbox-exclusive Halo series, KillZone, gathered a large amount of hype during its development stages. Although both games are based in the future, each game contains a huge amount of difference. KillZone, for example, is a more realistic and believable approach to a battle between defenders and invaders. Featuring plausible weapons and more dangerous enemies, KillZone is the type of game that those who couldnt handle the out-of-this-world storyline, enemies and vehicles that are featured in Halo 2. Playstation 2 owners around the world dubbed KillZone as the definite Halo Killer, however, upon release, the anticipated title has received a range of different scores around the world. This dramatically lowered the sales of what could have been a top selling game on the Playstation 2. Although KillZone feels like an awesome title that gives Halo 2 a run for its money, a number of bugs that the title includes is disappointing.

As mentioned earlier, KillZone is based in the future, during a time when planet colonisation has become a reality. Each colony is slighting different in some way, due to the inhabitants changing to suit their environment. The majority of these colonies have joined to form the ISA an elite, armed group of military personnel who are responsible for the protection of earth and other planets that are part of the ISA. One planet, however, has distanced themselves from the other colonies. Known as the Helghast, these people secretly plan to wage war against those on earth, and, subsequently take control of the planet. Blaming Earth for the reason that they must live on a planet with a deadly atmosphere, the Helghast plan to take control or earth. After evading the planetary defence systems, the Helghast land easily on Earth and begin their surprise attack on the unsuspecting ISA forces.

The campaign mode is the heart of KillZone. Mission-based progression, this mode offers around thirteen hours of gameplay to complete for the first time. As you progress through the missions, you gradually unlock a number of different playable soldiers, each with their own different capabilities and selection of weapons that changes the gameplay slightly if you choose to play with them. After a set number of missions, you are able to re-choose which character that you wish to play as over the next few missions.
You begin the game as Templar, a well-trained soldier who is committed to saving Earth and repelling the attack from the Helghast. The first mission involves a World War I-like trench warfare against the landing Helghast forces. The game then takes you throughout various locations on earth, including destroyed shopping malls, green lush parks, shipping docks and beyond. The locations throughout the game are varied, keeping the game interesting.

A problem with the world of KillZone is that the game often feels as if the earth has been battling the invading Helghast forces for years. Its often that you spend hours at a time travelling through areas that contain no other humans in sight. This is unusual as the battle between the ISA and Helghast forces has only just begun why would there be such a little number of humans? This is the only real questioning problem about how the game comes across apart from this, everything in KillZone feels very real.

Another small problem with the level design in KillZone is that the levels often feel too linear. During a large number of levels, such as a torn-apart city mall, you are forced to go the same way each time you have no choice of going anywhere else. This also occurs during a jungle mission, when the tracks through the forest are only about 4 meters wide. There are however, a number of different tracks to follow; however they all go in a complete circle, except for one. An open, fully accessible forest would have made for an enjoyable experience. There is the occasional level when the game feels huge, however this doesnt occur often.

The AI in KillZone is generally of good quality. Both enemies and allied soldiers will find cover during firefights, which includes vehicles, terrain, vegetation and buildings. Enemies will relocate to find cover, or will move forward cautiously when they expect a threat nearby. Enemies will communicate to each other, warning each other of potential threats or requesting backup. The Helghast rarely travel alone, rather, they will travel in small groups, providing a more challenging and intelligent aspect that is rarely found in more shooters on the Playstation 2. There are occasions, however, when the AI is delayed. Often, it can take them some five seconds of aiming at you for them to take a shot resulting in missions becoming too easy.

As with any first person shooter, weapons play a crucial part throughout the course of the game. KillZone does offer a variety of weapons, however there are a number of other shooters available for the Playstation 2 that offer a larger variety and greater number of weapons to choose from. You have your small variety of different pistols, machine guns and shotguns, as well as grenades and a number of different stationary weapons. A large number of the weapons are based off actual, current weapons that are used by armed forces around the world, further adding to the believable world of KillZone.

KillZone also offers both online and offline multiplayer modes. Allowing up to sixteen players to battle-it-out in the same levels and modes that are found in the offline multiplayer mode, the online compartment offers an enjoyable and solid experience. The offline multiplayer allows up to two players at any one time. Choosing from either the ISA or Helghst team, a variety of options and modes are available to play, such as the basic deathmatch and team deathmatch, as well as domination, defend and destroy, supply drop and assault.
Domination requires two teams to control a number of different post objects in order for their score to rise. The higher the number of poles your team controls, the quicker your points will accumulate. Losing control of a pole will also result in a penalty of points.
Defend and Destroy position both teams with two generators each. Each team is required to destroy the opposing teams generators whilst defending their own from attack.
Supply Drop requires two teams to collect a number of objects that are scattered throughout the level and return them to your base. Whichever team has the largest number of supplies by the end of the game wins.
Finally, Assault. Similar to search and destroy, however one team plays as the defender of two generators, whilst the other team must attempt to destroy them. If the generators are still standing by the end of the game, the defending team wins. If the generators are destroyed, however, the assault team wins.
Up to seven AI bots per a team are able to be used during any multiplayer game

Some drivable vehicles would have been a welcomed addition to the gameplay, offering a change from the walking pace for travelling throughout the levels. Vehicles do appear throughout the game, including both human and Helghast, however you are unable to control them.

Simply put, KillZone is one of the best looking games available for the Playstation 2. The large range of environments in which you travel through offer amazingly realistic detail that improves the overall believable feel. Buildings are torn down and riddled with bullet and mortar holes. Lush vegetation-full levels that offer a large number of plants on-screen at any one time, each offering surprisingly good detail. KillZone also offers something that many Playstation 2 titles dont upon getting close to objects, they remain crisp, clear and detailed, rather than becoming blurry and unclear.

The character designs are outstanding. Offering very realistic, emotional facial effects, including outstanding eyes, excellent mouthing of words, moving cheeks and foreheads and well-detailed hair. With several male characters, each strand of facial hair that has been shaved is shown further improving the realistic facial features. Clothing also offers some impressive detail. Characters move fluently and easily. There is only really one major problem with the character animation and detail. Often, upon arriving nearby to new soldiers, their facial features are extremely bland and offer little detail even the mouth and eyes look blurred into the rest of the face. This occurs for the first few seconds that you first few a new character in game, whilst the Playstation 2 hardware loads their detail, looking pathetic and becomes annoying. It is worth mentioning that there is only a short loading screen prior to starting a each level, thus, requiring the Playstation 2 hardware to constantly load the well-detailed level environments and characters as you move throughout the level. As said earlier, the amazing detail throughout KillZone is very impressive and pushes the Playstation 2 hardware to its limits. Therefore, it is understandable that some minor graphical catch-ups will occur at times, however coming across a character with detail equal to those found in the Playstation era is definitely off-putting

It appears that KillZone received rush development through the last few months of its development life in order to get the game on shelves in time for the holiday season. As a result, a number of graphical bugs occur, in particular towards the end of the game. White mapping lines, which is where each object connects to another, are evident. At times, dead enemies also begin having leg-throwing seizures after death which Im sure wasnt intentional by the developers. These only begin to occur often towards the end of KillZone, which is disappointing as these problems are mostly found towards the end of the game.

Music, sound effects and voice acting are of exceptionally high value. The music offers soft music when there is little action, through to loud, dangerous music when the action becomes intense. The music always suits the conditions and levels that it is used on, further enhancing the great gameplay. Sound effects offer a variety of quality, realistic sound effects that make everything throughout the game, from the explosion of a grenade through to the sound of your footsteps on a variety of different surfaces, sound exactly as you would expect them to. A large number of voice actors have been called in to do some excellent voice acting for the range of characters that are encountered throughout the game. The voice acting suits the conditions perfectly and further enhances the believable world of KillZone.

With that being said, there is only one problem that I found throughout my extensive play of KillZone. Occasionally, the sound effects of the weapons firing and reloading are either missing or sound very weird. At one point, I spent about five minutes in the game without my weapon making a sound when it reloaded. This is disappointing when these problems are encountered, as the rest of the sound is amazing.

After the huge hype that surrounded KillZone during its development life, KillZone has, and will, disappoint those who are looking for a shooter of equal or better quality to that found in Halo 2 on the Xbox. Unfortunatly, there are simply too many bugs throughout the game to score this game too highly. If you want to create a game that will be regarded as the best game ever made, you need to ensure that no bugs occur during the game, especially the amount that is found in KillZone. Although there excellent gameplay, graphics and sound found in KillZone, the number of bugs that are found, especially towards the end of the title, damages the experience. Despite the bug problems, KillZone remains a top, interesting and enjoyable first person shooter that is will worth a look.

Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.