Back before it got bogged down in such nonsense as story and trying to make us care about its characters – or even having characters, for that matter – the Battlefield series was about nothing more than being an absolutely brilliant multiplayer game, into which you’d happily sink dozens of hours.
Killzone 2 is slightly different in that it does have a proper campaign to play through, but in every other respect I think that it’s the heir apparent to what is still the peak of the Battlefield series: Battlefield 2. Hell, it even has the ham-fisted attempts to make us care about the paper-thin characters with crappy AI as we play through the engine tech demo that is its campaign – an approach borrowed from Battlefield: Bad Company for good measure.
Now before I bring down the wrath of the Killzone Defence Force, let me be clear that I mean this in the nicest possible way. Killzone 2’s campaign is passable and a great way to show off the home cinema but not something that I’ll play through more than once, but the multiplayer mode is one of the best that I’ve played in a long time, and certainly the best since Call of Duty 4 stole my life away for a few months over 2007 and 2008. I’ve already played a dozen hours while finding time to play The Lost and Damned and Street Fighter IV, and I don’t feel like I want to slow down yet.
Alas, the controls are still less than ideal. You can’t polish a turd, as they say, but for the multiplayer Guerrilla has mercifully put the turd next to some potpourri. There’s a touch more aim assistance to make firing from the hip less hit and miss – mostly miss – and the slightly clunky cover system has been done away with, and it generally feels less encumbered with the campaign’s affinity for making you feel the weight of your character.
It’s probably a decision based on the fact that human-controlled players are likely to be more wild and reckless, but perhaps it might have been a good idea to let us use these controls throughout the entire game? Just a suggestion…
But what I’ve found to be its most interesting feature is the way that it rotates game types in the same match, meaning that whereas my time in a game like Battlefield 2 would be spent flipping between team deathmatch and conquest-style games without exploring the offerings further, every match of Killzone will randomly flip between deathmatches, conquest, assassination, and other objective-based modes without returning to the menu or lobby. It’s a simple idea that I’ve never seen done before, and it adds a wonderfully unpredictable slant to how the game is going to play. And, of course, you can just choose to play a straight deathmatch, which the game is still very good at doing.
The Battlefield comparison goes further than the superiority of the game’s multiplayer experience, though. This just has a very similar feel, like the realistic imprecision of the guns that makes killing someone with an assault rifle from a distance at best blind luck, if not almost impossible. It’s annoying when faced with AI opponents who aren’t working with the same limitations as you, but against similarly encumbered humans it becomes more of a game of skill, seeing who’s best at carefully aiming and picking their shots before the other guy can, and it’s nearly impossible to win by jamming on the trigger because the recoil is likely to hit everything but your opponent.
Look me up if you’re online – PSN name: NekoFever (stats currently down) – because I’d be more than willing to have a game.