The Killzone franchise is five years old today, and Eric Boltjes, Mathijs de Jonge and the rest of Guerrilla Games are accordingly sinking into mattresses of purest purple cotton-candy nostalgia over at the official site. The grimy shooter series has returned to headlines for other reasons of late, with the second iteration swiping a Golden Joystick and no less than three nominations for Spike’s Video Game Awards 2009. An appropriate time then to slip off those rose-tinted goggles, strap on some glowing Helghast varieties and do a little retrospective whinging.
I loved, and still love Killzone 2. Rather fortunate, that, as I spent close to 100 hours with it in the hysterical two or three months before its release. But the game had, and still has some definite shortcomings, and recent tidal shifts in the waters of first and third-person shooting have made one of these shortcomings especially evident.
If you’ve been keeping up with our reviews, you’ll know it’s a great season for cooperative gaming. (So great, in fact, that we’re going to publish an editorial on the subject in the next couple of weeks – but I digress.) Following in the footsteps of Insomniac’s Resistance sequel, Modern Warfare 2 and Uncharted 2 have boosted their respective co-op components from humble campaign add-on status to that of a full-blown separate mode. Left 4 Dead 2 is busily reaffirming the marvellousness of the original game’s signature four-players-against-the-world dynamic. I am utterly gutted that I didn’t get to grade New Super Mario Bros Wii, that peerless provoker of beery retrohead camaraderie. And all this occurs against a backdrop of mighty advances in multiplayer gaming generally, with the MAG beta asking unheard-of feats in team (or rather, army) management, and Demon Souls carving a wild, uneasy line between roguelike and MMO.
In that context, Killzone 2′s strictly solo ten levels feel a little bloodless, despite its artery-ripping graphical excess. This game needed co-op – needed it like a daffodil needs sunlight, Jade Raymond her hair straighteners or David Jaffe his sedatives. Its war-ravaged, multi-storey maps and the find-fix-and-flank nature of its action would have suited team play right down to the bullet-scoured earth.