Release Date: February 27, 2009
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Metacrtic Score: 91
With the next installment of the “Call of Duty” installment being more of a sci-fi shooter, I decided to take a look at one of the PS3’s previous sci-fi shooters. This just happened to be the one that was at my local used game shop last time I went. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t exactly excited for this one. I played both the first game and the PSP game a few years ago, and found them both lacking. So much so that had “Killzone: Shadow Fall” not been released, I would have completely forgotten the series existed. So was I wrong to ignore Sony’s attempt at a “Halo” killer, or does this sequel manage to make the franchise worth taking another look at?
Two years after the attack on the planet Vekta the ISA (Interplanetary Strategic Alliance) have mounted an assault on the Helghast home world of Helghan. You job, as Tomas “Sev” Sevchenko, is to capture the Helghast leader, Emperor Scolar Visari.
As far as the main plot goes, that really is all there is too it. While it may not be the most original story, it does give you an excuse for some kick ass sci-fi action. More importantly, it also allows for the inevitable distractions from the main story to feel more natural. Where as in some games there is little reason as to why you don’t just go kick the man baddies ass until the third act, here they have no trouble finding a reason for all the side stepping. For example, early in the game you are leading a convoy to your destination. However, you come up against a defense system you can’t get past, so you have to leave and shut down the power to that section of the city. That’s the beauty of a simple set up: none of the diversions feel out of place.
The one issue I have with the story is really the same issue I have with most modern war games: there doesn’t seem to be any real reason for the conflict. Maybe something was brought up in the last game, but nothing in this game explained why these two factions were at war. Hell, the only reason I knew about the Helghan attack on the planet Vekta was because I looked up the Wikipedia article on the game. Sure, for some the nazi look of the Helghast is going to be enough of a reason, but the Helghast aren’t Nazi’s. If Guerrilla Games wanted to go the “Iron Sky” rout I would have been fine killing space nazi’s on the sheer principle of it, but they didn’t. Sure, it’s not a big complaint, but some idea as to why these two were fighting would have gone a long way in my book.
If you’ve played an FPS anytime this last generation you’ll know what you’re getting into, but there is a level of polish here I truly wasn’t expecting. The basic controls are straightforward: left stick to move, right stick to look around, R1 to fire gun, ect. However, what adds a bit of flavor to the gun play is both a great cover mechanic and a nice feeling of weight to the guns.
Whenever you get close to a way or other cover, you can press the L2 button to stick to that object. From there you can pop out, fire a few rounds, the return to cover before getting your head blow off. Think along the lines of a first person “Gears of War” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect. While this is an important tactic to use if you don’t want to die, the people at Guerrilla Games knew that siting behind one peace of cover and picking off enemy’s wouldn’t have been that fun, so they made the A.I. Smart enough to try to force you out of cover, as well as taking cover themselves and even flanking you. This made each battle an insanely fun game of “hide and seek” rather than “whack a mole”.
But shooting isn’t the only think you’ll be doing. Well, it is, but the ways you do it changes with enough regularity to make each variation feel like a welcomed vacation from the norm. And with how overpowered you can feel in some of these sections, a vacation really is the best metaphor I could use. This is most evident in one section near the middle where you get your hands on an electricity gun. It has infinite ammo, take about 1 second to kill normal enemy’s and just a few more seconds to kill the flying take things that show up trough out the game. But i’m not one who’s going to complain about feeling overpowered in a sci-fi empowerment fantasy. So, yeah, give me overpowered lightning guns and mech suits. This may not be high art, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
While I can’t say anything really bad with the game play, there are two slightly annoying things i’d like to point out. The first is that the was one of the PS3’s “let’s show off the new teck” games. This rears it’s ugly head by making you use the sixaxis to turn handles and such from time to time. This shouldn’t bother me, but…i though we all agreed that sixaxis was crap on day one and we wouldn’t use it after those first few release day games. The other issue is actually the graphics. Normally I try not to talk about graphics, but here I kind of have too. You see, the particle effects here are really, really good. So good, in fact, that when you add it to the actually intelligent A.I., I found myself dying often becouse I couldn’t see someone running at me though the dust. Again, nither of these are “game braking” but they were noticeable and I personally found them frustrating.
Game Play: 4.5/5
It amazes me that Guerrilla Games, who spend almost no time or effort on the games story, would spend this much of each on the sound. Sure, all the guns sound grate, it’s a shooter. If we’re going to listen to gunfire for nearly 10 hours start it better not sound like shit. What’s really surprising is how good the voice acting is. All the I.S.A. Sound appropriately like a bunch of meat heads (something the game tries hard to make you believe), and while the Helghast all sound British for some reason, the still sound good.
The stand out performance goes too Brian Cox (Emperor Scolar Visari). The guy in only in the game twice, and one of those is the video that plays when you don’t press any buttons and stare at the starting menu. Both of his monologs are well written and preformed with the same passion as you vigor you would see in a movie. A pretty good movie. Maybe not an oscar worth movie, but a pretty damn good sci-fi, the kind that crap like “The Hunger Games” wishes it could be. Anyway…The sound here is very good and I can’t really thing of an issue. Sure, in larger fights you can;t tell the guns apart, but find me someone who could I i’ll show you a victim of the USA’s poor foreign policy.
Overall Score: 4/5
Who’s this game for:
Like I said, this is for those who are looking at the new, sci-fi “Call of Duty” and saying to themselves, “god I can’t wait until I can get my hands on that”. Or for those looking at the game and going “Can I get this without it being shit like it most certainly is going to be by venture of being a Call of Duty game”