• Review: Killzone HD

    Single Issue V (Written by Gen. Chris)

    Killzone (2004/2012)

    Killzone HD Many generations ago, Earth began colonizing the stars. Two factions of humans colonized different systems; one founded the colony of Vekta, while the other founded Helghan after being expelled from Vekta due to their policies and beliefs. The people of Helghan, stranded on the desolate world, were forced to adapt to the harsh conditions of the planet, eventually evolving and becoming a new species called the Helghast. Bitter and warlike, the Helghast believe that they have been wronged in the past, and seek to bring war and destruction to Vekta. As the Helghast invade the planet and shock the forces of Vekta (the ISA), it is up to Captain Jan Templar and three companions to defeat the Helghast and stop the costly invasion.

    Killzone is a science fiction FPS taking place in the distant reaches of space. Having never played the franchise, I have acquired the first three games through the Trilogy pack, and am therefore playing the HD remaster of the very first game. There are several positives of the game. For one, the setting of the game is fairly interesting, as it involves two different factions of human colonists, though the Helghast are almost inhuman at this point. The war brings you to many locations on the planet Vektra, from shipyards to cities to even a swamp. Every location is unique, and every location presents its own challenges. The world certainly looks better than it does on PS2, however there are some issues regarding the graphics that will be addressed shortly. Another key aspect of the game is the fact that as the game progresses the player unlocks three new characters that can be played throughout the rest of the levels after their introduction. Each as their own distinctive personalities, each has their own weaknesses and strengths. One, for example, is the female assassin Lugar, who can sneak around, use different approaches, and is overall good for taking out enemies quietly. However, she is not great in open combat. Another interesting character is Hakha, a half-human half Helghast who chooses to fight alongside your squad rather the Helghast. Each character also has their own weapons as well as the ability to use Helghast weapons that can be picked up throughout the game. However, more likely than not I found Templar to be the go-to character, as he is well balanced. The sound and sound quality is also fairly good, if a bit outdated, and the soundtrack itself is adequate. The campaign is also fairly long, and therefore well worth the money and time put into it.

    However, there are many negatives that are a part of this game. For one, though the graphics have been upgraded and remastered, there are numerous things that were simply ignored. While the whole game has been upgraded to 720p, cutscenes still look PS2 quality, and there is a high degree of pop in on levels at a really short distance. Voice acting, while decent, often does not match well with the movement of the characters. This is not a huge deal, but it does contributed negatively to the look and feel of the game. The AI of the game is also pretty poor, as enemies will often ignore you, and that is not limited to enemies but also ally AI. One memorable instance involved one of my allies and an enemy soldier being within just a few feet of each other, in the open, and not noticing each other. These AI issues are frustrating, but are likely a byproduct of the simple fact that the game is from 2004, and AI was simply not astounding in most games. Animation and movement can also be frustratingly off, leading to complications while playing. Ammo is also frustratingly scarce at times, especially for the simple assault rifle, leaving the player to mostly have to rely on enemy weapons for most of the campaign. Controls are also problematic and sometimes janky, leading to difficulty in getting accurate shots. Luckily the button mapping can be configured, but it can still lead to frustrating situations. The odd exception to this is the light machine gun, which is abnormally accurate and ammo is easy to come by, meaning it is more than a little over powered. In short, combat, the focus of a FPS game, is simply not adequate, and can often be incredibly frustrating. The levels, while varied compared to each other, can often feel very repetitive within themselves, and can lead to boring playthroughs for those. And finally, the story is simply forgettable, as I know very little about the characters, the motivations of the villains, and there is simply not much of a story to be consumed. Itís disappointing, as a setting such as this should have a really interesting and compelling story, but it unfortunately falls flat in this regard.

    Overall, the game is alright, but it does have many flaws. In many ways it is a solid game, and would have been quite good if I had played it in 2004 when it was first released. However, it is clear that unlike many PS2 games, Killzone has simply not aged well. It is not necessarily the fault of the game nor its developer Guerrilla Games. Some games simply do not maintain their quality with time. And perhaps it is a bit unfair to judge this game based on its PS2 roots, as many of the faults certainly lie within those origins. But the lack of story and repetitive levels still make a poor impact on the game, and overall the quality just does not feel right for a Playstation exclusive, even an old one. It is a tad disappointing, but it does not really affect my outlook for the rest of the games in the franchise. If you are a fan of science fiction shooting games, you can certainly do worse than Killzone HD.