Thursday, January 12, 2012

Killzone [2004] (FPS)

As this FPS masterpiece is scheduled to hit PSN release sometime later this month, why not review it!
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Designer: Roy Postma
Composer: Joris de Man
Platform: PS2, PSN (upcoming)
Release year: 2004
Genre: FPS
System requirements: PS2, the best console in the world :)


Some say that console FPS games are nothing compared to the ones on PC. Some say that twinstick is the worst control scheme ever. Some even say that Halo: Combat Evolved is a good game. The truth is always somewhere in between. I've tried a zillion of console FPSes, some crappy (Cyber-Cop, Duke Nukem 3D for Genesis) and some really good (Zero Tolerance, Marathon 2 XBLA remake, Disruptor, Powerslave) ones. I'm usually very skeptical to the big-budget Call Of Duty ripoffs that sadly have flooded the market in recent years, but one such game has turned out to be a surprise hit in my gaming library.

Effective May, 14th I've became a fan of Guerrilla Games' Killzone. Picking up the PS2 controller, I was totally understanding that it's a new-school FPS without strafe jumps (and jumps in general, there isn't even a control button for that), with sniper duels and covers instead of adrenaline-fueled Quake-esque action. I perfectly comprehended that it was indeed a Call Of Duty ripoff, which meant something that I'm supposed to hate from the start. But thank God, the developers did take several risks that managed to redeem the whole experience.

- A good storyline! Thankfully, Killzone is not overblown with pro-American overtones, and we're not playing as a member of the elite counter-terrorist group running around the desert shooting down the same enemy models again and again, having to stop the nuclear missile and rescue the princess in another castle. What we get instead is a decent plot about Terran colonists from the planet Helghan deciding to come back and reclaim the planet that once was their homeworld, but now has abandoned the colony. Our heroes are forced to stop them, because the Helghast are unlikely coming in peace. Actually, as the badass intro cutscene shows, they deploy a hell of a military arsenal and launch the full-scale attack, rendering our planet in ruins and fields of corpses, so the good guys are forced to get heavily armed and ready to kill. As the counterattack is proceeding, the Earth military superiors seem to be giving legit orders to our team, but later in the game something makes this trust give a breach...

- Memorable characters. Here we have a charismatic cast right off a quality warsploitation movie like 'Starship Troopers' or 'Operation Delta Force'. Each character is slightly overdeveloped even by the old school FPS standards, and there are no blands here - everybody has something to say or do in order to keep the plot going, may it be Templar the Paladin-Of-Light (primary protagonist), foul-mouthed Rico, wormy Adams or the rest of the gang. There are even some good one-liners ('What the fuck is the Shakespeare?'). I'd especially like to praise Ms. Luger, because the character designer dared to have enough balls to give a female soldier no cleavage and balloon-sized breasts, in a PS2 game with 16+ rating. Bravo, Guerrilla Games!

And the last, but not the least:
- GOOD GAMEPLAY. Yeah, Killzone does have some charming idiocy a-la 'Press the Shoot button to shoot', invincible fellow bots and endless enemy ammo clips, but it still manages to be fun, stimulating, hardcore, and not without appeal in constant switching between covers and standoffs. You receive no penalties for behaving as Rambo, though there are no stupid Soldier Of Fortune 2-style game-overs for being an idiot and wandering around. After all, you are in the killzone, son, so use all the means available to advance and conquer.

The graphics are very good and detailed as far as PS2 games go, although someone may find the sprite muzzle flashes and blurry textures disappointing. Overall, the level designs are really intricate, with good feel of the environment (especially the indoor parts). It may not look anything special today, but for the time the graphics are stylish and vibrant. Same can be said about the music - I'm not a big fan of Hans Zimmer school of epic orchestral sludge (minus the Broken Arrow OST), but here it fits perfectly, creating the dramatic and suspenseful atmosphere of future war. Blasting through Helghan hordes wouldn't be so much fun without the soundtrack.

Nothing in this world is perfect, and I do have a couple of complaints, too. After you beat the game, you can start it over with one of the 4 playable characters (which get unlocked during the first playthrough as they appear in the story). That's nice, but a cutscene or artwork gallery wouldn't hurt, too. Well, maybe I'm just a stinky filthy rich who automatically compares all the games with unlockables to God Of War, heh. But the character selection is pretty neat, as each of them has his/her own set of starting weapons and a unique gameplay feature (Luger can use the ventilation shafts, Hakha can bypass the forcefields, etc.)

What do we have in total: badass title, badass plot, badass villains, decent graphics and music, engaging gameplay, charismatic and memorable characters - yeah, Killzone was a great surprise for me!