There's an easy way to analyze a game like this. Simply put, this is the right game on the wrong system. "Killzone" tries so hard to be an epic game experience, but the hardware limitations drag it right back down. It's certainly not a complete failure, but a title that could have been so much more.
Players are tossed into a futuristic-styled World War in which a dictator has seized control. His minions are the Helghast, a glowing orange-eyed group of uglies trying their best to keep control of the situation. Their problem seems to be a group of soldiers keeping the peace. Players will control one of four soldiers as the game moves on, each with their own unique abilities.
"Killzone's" best assets are its environments. These do a splendid job of plopping the player into a world in shambles due to the raging war. Every stage is meticulously rendered with fabulous backgrounds, burning wood, collapsed ceilings, and bullet-ridden walls. A light layer of grain that seems subtle at first enhances the gritty settings, but as time moves on, you begin to believe the game wouldn't be the same without it. High production values mean the pre-rendered cinemas tell a great story.
Not surprisingly, gameplay suffers because of these features. Though it never completely throws the player out of the game, the games rather inconsistent frame rate brings everything down a notch. Just the slightest bit of smoke on the screen will push the Playstation 2 over its limit and cause choppiness completely unacceptable for a game released this late in the hardware cycle. The same thing can be said for crowded areas where multiple allies and enemies are trading ammunition. Like it was said earlier, this never causes major problems for the gameplay, it just becomes a bigger and bigger annoyance as the game moves on.
Weapons are plentiful and each can be effective in certain situations. Only the sniper rifle suffers. Controlling this weapon is difficult thanks to overly touchy controls that will send the sight whizzing by an enemy if you move the analog stick one millimeter too far. Yes, everything can be adjusted in the options menu, but this also affects the other weapons in the player's arsenal that control just fine otherwise.
Standard console FPS controls are in effect here. Analog sticks will get a big workout for most of the game and the shoulder buttons send out most of the ammo. The scheme is set up well and everything is very responsive. Oddly, melee attacks can only happen if you get close enough an enemy and an icon appears. There are times when you can be right in front of someone and the icon just won't appear. Finally, it's ludicrous that these people can't jump. Simple obstacles that a three-year old could conquer block paths to keep the game ridiculously linear.
Including multiple soldiers for the player to control is a unique idea and it's implemented well. Yes, you can just run in and start shooting no matter whom you choose, but some characters do better laying back and doing their damage slowly. In fact, that is the best way to play this one. The players' life bar slowly regenerates about 1/3 after taking a hit. All you need to do to regain your health completely is take a quick hit, take cover, and wait. If it doesn't fill, repeat. There is rarely a situation where this isn't possible.
Developer Guerilla has done a fine job in creating memorable moments, something most games in the FPS genre seem to do now. There are plenty of surprises created by pre-planned AI routines, though at other times the Helghast are none too bright. Taking cover and leaving your head fully exposed is not something you should ever do in a war zone, but you'll see it all the time here.
For all of its well-done environments, the graphics engine suffers elsewhere other than the frame rate. Pop-up is a severe problem and one that should have been fixed. You can only marvel at an ally whose face magically switches between a low and high detail texture as you carry on a conversation. Fog can occasionally be thick and the aiming cursor seems to find itself lost in many of the backgrounds. There are moments where it can be difficult to differentiate between an enemy and fellow soldier too. Oh, and what happened with those death animations?
Though the game sports a soundtrack suitable for a major feature film, rarely does it come in during play. Cinemas use it constantly, but once it comes time to shoot, music is notably absent. Voice samples are few in number, annoying, and really hinder the immersion factor. You'll constantly hear "We need back-up!" and "We're taking heavy fire!" Sure, the Pro-Logic II format is used well, but this isn't something you want to listen to after a while. The only real positive is some immense bass complimenting the gunfire.
If you find yourself in a position where this genre takes up most of your time, this probably isn't a bad rental. Massive money was obviously spent giving this game a graphics engine that surpasses almost everything else on the console, even if some glitches ruin the fun somewhat. The story and backdrop also make it worthwhile. The main problem is that instead of paying $50 for this, you can find a copy of "Red Faction" for $20 in the Greatest Hits line. You'll have more fun there.