Killzone: New Hands-On Preview

We get some quality hands-on time with one of the most talked-about PS2 games in recent memory - have Sony and Guerrilla been able to pull this off?

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The PlayStation 2 has proved unstoppable in most areas of videogames, but there is one notable chink in the armour: first-person shooters. This genre has taken hold of the graphical upgrades provided by current hardware over previous and used it to provide some of the most memorable experiences in videogames, experiences that simply weren't possible on lesser machines. Microsoft has arguably dominated the FPS genre with numerous high profile and high quality games appearing on the Xbox. So when talk began of a "Halo killer" coming out of the Netherlands exclusively for the PlayStation 2, more than a few people started to pay more careful attention to what developer Guerrilla was up to in Amsterdam.

As Peter Molyneux said in our recent interview with him, good AI is fast becoming a non-feature, something that we'll take for granted because it is such an integral facet of development that to make a game without good AI would be unacceptable. Molyneux would likely be intrigued by the smarts of the verminous Helghast, the unflinching villains in Guerrilla's upcoming PlayStation 2-exclusive shooter Killzone. The Helghast generally act in teams, and only rarely will you see a loner come right for you. Instead, they'll bide their time and try to draw you out into the open.

And once they catch a glimpse of you, you better be ready to take them down, because they will not stand down. This is not the kind of game has besmirched shelves of late where you can just run around the corner while the memory timers clicks down to zero in the Memento-esque enemies. The Helghast show tenacity and foresight. Pop into view and then seek refuge behind a corner and they'll send a team member out to get you. Walk down a corridor and into an opponent's line of sight and he'll gather his compatriots and come after you. If there's terrain that allows them to take cover, you can bet that's exactly what they'll do, and you'll have to tick off their rounds with them and hit them as they reload. And once you do manage to tag them, enemies are quick to take up defensive positions.

Instances like this make you appreciate the effort that's gone into the sound production. Enemies call out to one another, announcing their intentions, making it that little bit easier to prepare for them. And the thundering gunfire makes hearing when they stop to reload that much easier. That being said, the AI isn't perfect yet. While enemies are usually relentless, more than once I was able to stand unperturbed before one, flaunting my bravado, and come off relatively unscathed.

This isn't necessarily that bad, mind you, because as it stands now Killzone is tough. Throughout development, Guerrilla wanted to reinforce that this is war, and despite what CNN might tell us, war is tough. If there's a dividing line between easy and difficult first-person shooters, Killzone errs on the side that sees you repeating missions several times. Sadly, this is not solely down to the superior shooting skills of the Helghast.

Currently, the same intricacies that make the game feel real also impede your progress somewhat. Take reloading as an example. Each weapon comes with its own unique reloading animation, allowing you to see your character's detailed hands remove the spent clip, reach for another, and knock it into place. All this takes time though, and during this time your head - and thus the reticle - follows your hand-movement, which means that you're effectively cut off from the action. On one hand, this really makes you feel like you're there, but the length of the animation and the constant realignment gets in the way of you taking down the next bad guy.

Another example is the recoil of your weapon. However accurate it might be, not being able to rely on your reticle pointing in the same position as you hold down the trigger on a fully automatic machine gun requires a period of acclimation. Consequently, you'll seldom find yourself just pulling back on the trigger, spraying bullets across the horizon. There's considerably more thought required if you want to get anything done.

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Video Coverage
(See Latest Videos & Video FAQ Here)
Direct feed gameplay 1 (640x480, 1Mbps)
3.10m 24.17 MB WMV
Direct feed gameplay 2 (640x480, 1Mbps)
0.37m 4.75 MB WMV
Trailer from presentation (640x480, 1Mbps)
1.58m 15.06 MB WMV
Killzone in-depth presentation - levels, weapons, characters, story (640x480, 1Mbps)
10.59m 83.80 MB WMV
Complete level 1 (640x480, 1Mbps)
6.23m 48.76 MB WMV
Complete level 2 (640x480, 1Mbps)
5.14m 39.87 MB WMV
Complete level 3 (640x480, 1Mbps)
2.58m 22.64 MB WMV
Direct feed hi-res teaser trailer (640x480, 1Mbps)
0.46m 5.83 MB WMV
Direct feed gameplay (640x480, 2Mbps)
2.20min 11.8MB WMV
Official teaser trailer (320x200, 1Mbps)
0.49min 5.83MB WMV

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