My first impression of Killzone 2 was pretty much the same as my colleague’s – that of utter amazement at the sheer badassery of it all. Everything about the presentation, from the graphics to sound design – the overall immersion – is fantastic. I color myself a pretty well-versed console FPS player, so I think I know a good shooter when I see one. And Killzone 2 definitely looks the part. But once I really dug my heels into the game, all my initial amazement slowly grinded to a halt, and it became more of a chore to play than a wonder to behold.
Don’t think I’m not aware of the situation; I’m in the minority here, and that’s fine. I don’t feel like I should be forced to love a game just because its Metacritic average is 94 (I don’t know Killzone 2’s numbers, but whatever), or because everyone says you have to play it or you’re an idiot. Point of fact, I’m not an idiot, and that’s exactly the reason why I traded this game in after two days of playing it. Like I said earlier, when I first popped the game in the disc loader (it’s not a tray, so…), I was floored by what I was experiencing. Graphics, and more specifically, graphics in an FPS, go a long way toward pulling you into the moment. Explosions rock the screen, bullets whiz by your head, comrades-in-arms are screaming for help, and a flood of evil Nazi-esque baddies are storming your position. It’s fucking intense, to say the least. I was intently focused on everything going on around me, because, well, the game demanded I do so. “Look at me!!!” it screamed, and sure enough, I watched with a smile on my face and an itchy trigger finger.
But as the game progressed, more and more I found myself cursing under my breath at the movements of my character. The simple act of aiming at someone was getting cumbersome and, quite frankly, obnoxious. It’s not the slow movement speed that bothers me; if that was the case, I could just turn the sensitivity up and be happy. No – because in Killzone 2, you feel like a real person holding a real weapon. I get that, and I actually like it. The problem comes when I want to move and shoot at the same time. It’s hard to describe to someone who hasn’t played it, but there is a swaying effect that occurs whenever you look around in any direction. The reticle is not instantly responsive to your input, which makes quickly and accurately aiming at an enemy an ordeal in itself. I said the general slow running speed didn’t bother me, but add to that the imprecise aiming, and it gets real shitty, real fast. I felt like I was playing under the influence; like I had somehow lost a step or two. It wasn’t fun anymore, so I stopped playing. Simple as that.
And no, the fact that I play Halo 3 does not have anything to do with my distaste for Killzone 2. I’ve also played Far Cry 2, Mirror’s Edge, Bioshock, Half-Life 2, Timeshift, Shellshock 2, Resistance, Call of Duty 2 & 4, F.E.A.R. & F.E.A.R. 2, Left 4 Dead, Portal, Rainbow Six: Vegas & Vegas 2, Prey, and Call of Juarez – and that’s just the FPS games from this generation. I judge every game on its own merits, and I think Killzone 2 has many in its favor, actually. Just not the one that makes me want to play it. Does that make me a 360 fanboy? Am I lauding the mechanics of one game over another? No, I’m not. I’m simply saying that if the main character of Killzone 2 was to take a breathalyzer test before firing his weapon, he would fail. And I, for one, can’t kill anyone unless I’m sober (ed: that’s a dirty lie).