Random scribblings by a prick. Enjoy.

Idle Minds: The Killzone 2 Love/Hate/Hype Machine And Where We Are Now

with 2 comments

E3 2005 is when it happened, the unveiling of the Playstation 3. Keen to make an impression on the press and joe-punter/fanboy sitting at home, Sony commissioned two pre-rendered CG trailers to be displayed, whilst saying a little white lie, telling their audiences that what they are seeing is being processed in real-time on a PS3 console.

One of those games was Motorstorm, a game which although turned out to be one of the best (at least IMHO) racers on the system and a looker to boot, failed by a somewhat wide margin to match the kinetic intensity of the pre-rendered footage that was shown previously.

The other, was Killzone 2, the proposed sequel to Sony’s FPS mascot from the PS2 era that many originally decried as being slow, clunky, grey and just.. well, uninspiringly dull in the face of Halo 2 and Half-Life 2, the other big FPS releases of the day. The footage began and the collective echo of jaws hitting the ground, made its way steadily across the auditorium.

Instantly many people had forgotten about the new XBOX 360 and the Nintendo Revolution-thingy (at this point a Nintendo home system was a joke to the gaming community, later on, the joke would take on a different connotation), in the face of the blistering gunfights, perfect physics, ultra detailed models and liquid frame rate.

People simply couldn’t believe what they were seeing, however slowly but surely, those who had been exposed to such smoke and mirror tricks previously, began to question to real-time authenticity of the footage; pointing out that even with the PS3’s specification, such action would simply not be possible to reproduce in real time at such a plainly insane level of detail.

Eventually after a number of occasions whereupon Sony continued to insist that the footage was real-time, it all began to get a bit Chinese-whispery, with the previously dubbed ‘real-time’ footage now being spun as ‘CG footage using in-game assets’. In any event, it was the developer Guerilla Games, who said that the footage shown was all-CG and merely represented development target footage.

And so, with the memory of those incredible visuals burned into gamers minds some three and a half years later, the impossible benchmark that Sony had created to hype their machine all that time ago remains one that Guerilla have to match, and on paper it didn’t look like it was possible at all.

Guerilla Games has had a somewhat chequered history when it comes to developement. Besides, the mediocre original Killzone, Guerilla were also behind the abysmal Vietnam third-person shooter Shellshock Nam 67′. A title which was met with virtually universal critical panning.

So i’ll admit, I had my doubts that ANY dev team could produce those visuals in real-time, let alone Guerilla. Just over twelve months ago, the first real-time footage and pictures of Killzone 2 appeared, and somewhat predictably, it didn’t hold a candle to the CG footage that Sony tried to hoodwink us all with. Yet, curiously, it *did* look similar and had the appearance of a very early version of the CG demo that was shown, with much lower resolution textures, lower particle effect intensity and much lower poly models and environments.

Instantly, it was decried by many (myself included) that Guerilla had failed, and that Sony would not have an FPS white hope for their next-generation console. As months begin to go by, little by little, the game appeared to change in front of our very eyes. Models became more detailed, environments began to flourish with lots of incidental details, decent rag doll physics had now been implemented and it was all moving along at a smooth clip.

Visually, the game kept improving with each month that went by, creeping ever close to the CG footage that was originally shown. And now today, a final review build is in the hands of many games websites (a journalistic embargo currently exists on reviews until February) and from the media that has been released, the game looks as damned close to that footage as it could have possibly been. Seriously. Guerilla Games have excelled here with what they have produced in regards to the aesthetics and the gameplay by all accounts, looks to deliver the sci-fi theatre of war with the epic aplomb echoed so long ago in that pre-rendered footage.

However epic the game appears, it is still very much Killzone. The stark, post-apocalyptic palette of ruination grey returns, along with the excessively OTT reload animations and red eyed, combat suited opponents. This, by all accounts, is how Killzone should have been done, it’s Guerilla Games’ original vision for the game finally realised as well as their own considerable talent as a development team.

I’ll leave out the gameplay specifics for when I review the title, but being on both sides of the Killzone 2 hype wagon I can now fully say, that this is one Sony FPS that is actually on my radar. Ultimately then, Killzone 2 will hopefully not just validate the existence of Guerilla Games as a worthwhile developmental investment for Sony, but also the presence of the very sleek (yet underused) next-gen Sony console that sits under my TV.

Written by bitsnark

January 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm

2 Responses

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  1. It actually looks fantastic. But I’ll leave the praise for the game visually alone for a second, anyone with eyes in their sockets can appreciate how good looking the game is. Instead i’d like to predict how it might play. From videos and numerous previews on the multi-player beta at least it seems they’ve gone down the tactical call of duty 4 route. The games reliant on cover (indeed being one of the few FPS games i can recall to have an gears style click-able cover mechanic) and heavy use of iron sight aiming would seem to be in strong effect.
    Couple all this with a good size amount of A.I squad mates and enemy numbers on screen with some brilliant animation and lighting effects and we have what could be for my money the new benchmark infinity ward (bungie slightly less so but sure, them too) may have to look too. Actually quite excited about KZ2 now, roll on the demo.


    January 18, 2009 at 10:10 am

    • RE: KZ2
      Indeed it does look fantastic, the cover mechanic (although seemingly not entirely inspired) makes a natural fit for the type of slow, methodical tactical warfare that the game allows players to wage.
      In further regard to the multiplayer side, I think it might be a little to early to allude that Guerilla Games are knocking CoD4/CoDWAW/Halo 3 off their respective multplayer pedistals. The reason for this is that while KZ2 may certainly echo the tactical, methodically paced fare of the former, it does so without a similar upgrade/rank unlock system, not to mention the perk mechanic (which although may be labelled as gimmcky by some, a seasoned CoD player (Such as yourself) is perhaps more able to wholly appreciate).
      Then we come onto the subject of maps. Ostensibly important in any multiplayer title, it will be the number of maps, the quality of those maps, the map playlists and of course, DLC. Given the fact the maps in KZ2 will certainly be laid out a lot more conservatively than those seen in Halo 3 due to it’s gameplay type, the comparisons would then perhaps more aptly fall against Gears Of War, given that gameplay (with the exception of the instant death melee element) matches the latter title’s tactical, hide and cover nature.
      The only other problem with the multiplayer, which may not be an issue to multiplayer hounds who intend to never look at the campaign mode after they have demolished it, is the glaring lack of Co-op mode. Nobody expected a split screen Co-op mode, but surely a 2-4 player Co-op mode over PSN wouldn’t have been a massive hurdle for the dev team to overcome.
      In conclusion though, KZ2 is as an exciting prospect for the PS3 as there has been sometime. It’s tactical approach to the FPS genre, the staggering visuals and a seemingly solid (if perhaps feature lite) multiplayer all seem to add up to an unmissabke package.
      And so I, yes, roll on THAT demo 🙂


      January 18, 2009 at 10:24 am

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