This Killing Zone has been designated “Knife Only”

Originally Published 9 August 2010

Early last week, I finished my path through the single player mode of Killzone 2. I’ll preface this review by stating that I only played the single player campaign of Killzone 2. Also, I believe that any game that takes the time to have a single player mode–even if it is primarily built as a multiplayer game–should make that mode strong enough to stand on its own.

When I started playing Killzone 2, I had chosen to play on the second highest of its four difficulty levels. I have played many first person shooters and even a fair number of console first person shooters (the retarded cousins of real PC first person shooters). I quickly found that the controls were too cumbersome for me to be anything but rubbish at the game and downgraded the difficulty to the second lowest tier.

Even at this level, I was still having trouble with the controls, but soon discovered something interesting. It turns out that the game offers an always-available knife which is an instant kill on most enemies and which has a a radial range slightly wider than the field of view. At that point, rather than playing the game properly, I became Sev–the madman with the knife. As an example, my totals kills with the knife at the end of the game were over 400 whereas I hadn’t broken 100 kills with any other weapon.

It actually turns out that the enemy AI is poorly adapted for a crazy man with a knife rushing them. Part of their behavior seems to be an attempt to maintain a certain distance from the PC. Thus, a common occurrence was me rushing an entrenched location and watching as the enemies flee from the guy swinging the knife and strafing to avoid their fire. I once even watched as a gunner in a machinegun nest fled at the sight of me and my knife.

Gameplay wise, it is rather similar to most other console first person shooters of late. It uses the relatively standard Gears of War style health regeneration system. Weapon sets are similar to most FPSs though with a disappointing emphasis on assault rifles. They even took the irritating Halo-style “you only get to have two guns” system even further by having the two weapons being restricted to a pistol and a larger weapon. Maybe this is yet another reason to go for a knife-only game.

On the other side, I found the plot mostly incomprehensible. I hadn’t played the previous game, so there were certainly things that I had missed, but I really didn’t get why I was part of this invasion force. It seemed like the bad guys had invaded wherever our force was from at a point in the past (probably the last game), but since we defeated them, we decided to invade back. Strangely, despite the game treating nuclear weapons as serious business and a legitimate threat in a spacefaring universe, the “good guy” faction doesn’t choose to simply bomb their invaders back to the dark ages and instead carries out a protracted ground war with them. I mean, I can understand maybe wanting to capture the territory, but there is a point where I really have to question whether or not resources are being used efficiently.

Between the impermeable plot and my concerns with the controls, I didn’t really find much to like here. Luckily, the game was short–less than 10 hours even with all the deaths that using a melee weapon in a gunplay setting brings.

Killzone 2: 0

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