Dane. Designer.

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More Thoughts on Killzone 2

The other day a couple of us stayed around at work to watch Mazy play through an hour and a half of Killzone 2, because we are nothing, if not addicted to sci-fi in whatever shape or form it might take, regardless of our preconceptions. And while we were all somewhat surprised that the demo turned out to be the actual first level (we expected a bit more from the opening, I must admit), and while the gameplay part of the game didn’t do much to redeem itself from my previous post, I will say that we were all pretty well entertained throughout.

Much can be said of Killzone 2, but it isn’t one for going easy. For an hour and a half, at least, we were bombarded with a soundscape that would befit the climax of any war movie (multiple at once even!), non-stop. It wears you out; it honestly does. At the end as we turned it off and went home, all I wanted was to sit in quiet for a while and just enjoy the silence.

But then, it’s ever a joy to see Mazy—raised and bred, as he is, like feral children, though not by wolves, but by games—as he effortlessly bobs and weaves through one battle after another in a manner that puts even most Hollywood blockbusters to shame. And it does look good. Very very good. There’s some craftsmanship in that game. But, that makes it so much more of a pity when it’s cast in a style which, while sure of itself, is pretty ‘been there, done that’.

Especially because, as we played the game, the whole idea of this loose story of the invasion and attempt at occupation of a major city on the Helghast planet, almost managed harken back to movies like Platoon or Saving Private Ryan, which made me quite excited. Until I figured out that the most Killzone 2 strives for with its fiction is to move you from encounter to encounter. So much for that.

Without any fiction to speak of to string the experience together or heighten the surroundings in which you fight, the grungy concrete and steel environments are in reality pretty ho-hum, and in no small way reminiscent of a certain colony on LV-426Some day a space-faring military science fiction shooter will come, which won’t use Aliens as its primary source of inspiration, and I will party like it was 1986 all over again., what with its abandoned pseudo-living quarters and immense lightning piercing the sky. Most people won’t mind this, as I’m sure the sales figures will reveal beyond the shadow of anyone’s doubt; but I struggle to understand why they decided that invading the Ruhr district was more interesting than setting down in the Helghan equivalent to Fifth Avenue, or some similarly non-warzone-like area. Then, I’m not sure even the development team can come to terms with the idea of civilian Helghast (which in itself is something of a credibility problem)... But it would be more interesting at least than yet another non-descript industrial landscape.

In the end, it’s a flaw of my personal taste. To me, the fidelity of Killzone 2’s world is simply drowned in the simple-mindedness of the concept. To spend so much effort creating something so… so… expected…

It’s kind of a waste.

And once again, almost not even worth mentioning, you and the people you surround yourself with, are paper-thin and utterly uninteresting. There’s the black guy who says slangy things, there’s the ‘crazy’ guy and the archetypical sergeant and so on and so forth. Ohhhhhhhh Long John. Expected. It’s so expected. Listen, I know writing is hard. I know getting good actors is hard. I know! It’s hella hard. But it’s no harder creating offbeat, realistic characters, situations and even story, than it is to create the kind of jaw-dropping graphics that Killzone 2 so proudly bear.

And once again.

It’s a fine line to walk, sure. On the one hand people want what they know, and on the other you get bashed by people like me, who want to see renewal. It isn’t easy being Killzone 2; but you know, when you’re primary marketing image is a black suited soldier with red eyes… Well, I guess they aren’t aiming for me as a customer anyway…

Will I play it? Yeah, probably. It’ll be fun.