Killzone 2’s Graphics are Shit; and other blasphemous thoughts brought on by play
April 22, 2009 § 1 Comment
Whilst Killzone 2’s graphics may have reached fans expectations by getting tantalisingly close to the infamous E3 CG trailer the fact remains that for the vast majority of the game the art style is bland, consisting of murky oranges and greys, and constantly brought back memories of Red Faction 1, a game which is almost ten years old and certainly can’t hold up graphically today.
That’s not to say the graphics are technically bad – the sheer detailing in the weapons models deserves a mention – nor does it make the game any worse. All it serves to do is make Gorilla (almost certainly egged on by Sony) look arrogant for boasting for four years about their game’s graphical prowess, when at the end of the day it ends up looking satisfactory. It brings to mind EA when they used volumetric smoke as a selling point for ProStreet on the Wii; yes the game had it, but no one was ever going to care when they played it.
This complaint stems from the fact that Killzone 2’s graphics fail to wow at any point other than when it first loads when you see just how many polygons Gorilla have squeezed into the gun model. It lacks the colours and scale of Prince of Persia, or the sunsets of FarCry 2 and as such never forces the player to stop to take in the environment at any one point. Again, that doesn’t worsen it as a game, but it’s meant that it graphically fails to make a mark.
Killzone 2 is disturbingly realistic, and hilariously over the top in equal measure. Shooting enemies will without fail produce a fountain of blood, followed by some spectacular limb flailing and ragdolling almost certainly implemented to please the people who were underwhelmed by what Alex Ward of Criterion games described as enemies that would crumple like bin bags. It’s certainly satisfying to have gunfire create such a response, but it’s this, as well as the Helghast’s helmets popping off whenever you score a headshot that gives their deaths an almost comical edge.
Contrast this with the effect the flamethrower has on the enemy. When they first set alight the hilarious arm waving begins. Then they run mindlessly. Then the screaming begins. It’s all very visceral hearing “Oh god please make it stop,” and the intonation in the voice, as well as the echo brought on by the Helghast gas masks mean that it’s genuinely quite disturbing to listen to, and forced me to put the flamethrower down after just a few minutes to make the screams stop. Moments like these add a whole new dimension to the game concerning the horrors of war, it’s just a shame that much of the rest of the game is inadvertently so silly.
If every cutscene in the game had been as thought provoking as the final one, the game’s story would have been a whole lot more interesting. In it, Scholar Visari is finally confronted, only for him to proclaim victoriously that whilst there is still just one Helgan alive, he will continue to fight the Vectans. It’s a poignant moment, not least because of the brilliant voice acting and writing involved, because it undoes any optimism that the ISA had had about the war. This realisation that in order to get peace they would essentially have to commit a genocide of the Helghast race is not a pleasant one to come to terms with, and it’s made all the more surprising by the fact that almost half the lines of dialogue in the rest of the game contain some sort of profanity, and none any artistic merit.
It’s all very in keeping with the moral ambiguity present throughout the rest of the game. The ISA are never presented as the good guys outside of the propaganda heard at certain points in the game, and it’s always important to remember that you’re not fighting on your own soil: you’re fighting on theirs, through their city streets, and through their buildings. It presents no real moral high ground, no real solution to the horrid mess you’re wading through, the aim is simply to end the war, winning it has turned out to be impossible.
Without a shadow of a doubt, multiplayer is where the game shines brightest. The rank system in place, seemingly to provide incentive to keep playing, ends up introducing a learning curve similar to that seen in the single player portions of most games. New concepts are introduced to you over time, allowing you to get used to everything rather than be faced with a full character selection screen your first time online. The game mode ‘Warfare’ deserves a special mention, combining what would otherwise be five copycat game modes into one rolling match so the tide of battle is constantly turning.
If anything the online actually looks better than the single player. The high level of detail remains from the single player, but environments change more frequently and more dramatically, allowing their individual styles to shine through much more. The online play’s inherently less serious tone than the single player means that the over-the-top death animations look much less out of place and don’t ruin the immersion.
Ignoring all the pleasant dressing, the online code is simply rock solid, even on a dodgy internet connection. Noticeable lag is practically non-existent, and once you’re in a match the server’s not going to lose you. The game never lets technology hinder your fun.
Killzone 2 is fun. It’s not clever, it’s not inventive and it’s not unique but it’s a piece of big budget entertainment which has a very high level of polish that’s hard not to appreciate. Worth a rental.
This week Jon stopped trying to force himself to enjoy Ocarina of Time. To his utter dismay he can get no enjoyment out of one of the best games ever made because it’s simply not for him.
And that sucks.