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January 26, 2004
Killzone - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
25/11/2004SonyGuerrilla1-2, 16 M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
64KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneYes

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Yes, these are in-game graphics!
So here we are. The game dubbed by some in the press as a "Halo Killer" when details about this game was announced/leaked way back in August 2003 is now available. In fact it made it onto the shelves just in time for Christmas 2004; unfortunately our review wasn't possible until the new year. But here we are, set to give our opinion on one of the most anticipated games of 2004. Developed by Guerrilla Games from Holland, and with support for online gameplay it is good to see that the developers haven't forgotten about the storyline in this First Person Shooter.

Killzone is set in the near future, in a period of planetary colonization and revolves around a savage conflict between forces that are still loyal to Earth (the ISA) and a separatist, militaristic faction who call themselves the Helghast. The game follows a squad of four soldiers on a suicidal mission behind enemy lines, as they fight to undermine and defeat the Helghast forces following their devastating Blitzkrieg attack on the human colony.

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Better start shooting son.
It doesn't take long to realise that Killzone isn't the "Halo- Killer", hell, it's not even going to kill action games like TimeSplitters 2, Freedom Fighters or even Red Faction 2 for that matter. Guerrilla Games have developed a very linear First Person Shooter that limits your movement through the environments and really only offers point A to point B gameplay. By this I mean you are given an objective, and basically have to progress to that point in the level before going to the next checkpoint. Hardly the open-ended gameplay we have come to expect these days.

Killzone allows you to select from four characters to use during the game. These four characters include Templar (Commando), Luger (Stealth/Assassin), Rico (Heavy Weapons) and Hakha (Spy). After starting out with Templar the other characters join you as you progress through the 11, rather lengthy, levels. Each has his or her skills which complement the array of weapons on offer including pistols, shot guns, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, chain guns, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft turrets. It's a good mix of firepower however it's amazing how ineffective the weapons can be. It's not uncommon to have to lay 30 bullets into an enemy before he's killed!

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I count 8 Helghast.
At first I thought that the enemy A.I. in this game needed some serious work. Enemies seemed to stay out in the open a little too long and take a pounding before either dying or retreating. I then realised I was playing the game on normal, perhaps the harder difficulty setting would be better. After giving it a shot I realised that Guerrilla had done a pretty good job as the enemy soldiers tried desperately to save themselves from harm while knocking off a group of them was much tougher.

In terms of multi-player the big feature in this game is the online gameplay which allows up to 16-players to compete. Being a Sony game it is well supported, and there are enough people online to make a game of it. Offline this game supports 2-player split screen mode. A welcome addition, although the graphics engine struggles a little more as you would expect.

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Destroyed city landscape.
All is not perfect with Killzone however. My biggest issue is that this game just lacks that special spark to make it, well, special. As you progress through the levels you soon realise the game is becoming a bit of a chore. Similar enemies, similar linear levels, obvious event start points and so on. It's so annoying that events are triggered by your actions. Take out five enemies, a door will open five more enemies run in, a door will open, move to the next room and so on. You'll complete the game, no doubt about it, but it won't be the life changing experience we were hoping for. The levels are also very linear with most levels in a get from point A to point B structure. There's little opportunity to take different paths to the objective despite being set in large cities, shopping malls or complexes.

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Check out the fires.
Have a look at the screenshots littered around this review. Killzone really is a tour de force graphically. The levels look wonderful and really convey a sense of a war torn city environment. The levels are littered with debris and spot fires while glass can be shot out during battles. The frame rate isn't perfect, at times it's a little choppy making aiming hard, but it certainly still within the realms of playable. Particular mention should also go to the cut-scenes which are quite special and almost cinematic in their direction. What drags down the score in terms of graphics are the enemies. During the entire game you won't encounter more then a handful of different enemies and it can become quite repetitive. I wouldn't even mind if there were variations of the same enemy, but there isn't.

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More (same looking) Helghast.
In terms of sound everything in Killzone is pretty good - except the in-game speech and cries. Unfortunately these can become very repetitive with the same responses and call for help from many of the enemies. Fortunately the sound is improved by a very impressive music score which was recorded by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. While the in-game voice acting could have been better with some more variety the cut scenes are pretty good and utilize Hollywood talent such as Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Sean Pertwee (Event Horizon, Dog Soldiers), Stephen Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange) and Ronnie Cox (Total Recall, Robocop). Also impressive is the sound effects such as gunfire and explosions which will have you on the edge of your seat.

It's fair to say that Killzone isn't going to live up to expectations, much like a Star Wars movie they were built so high that they could never be met. Having said that Killzone isn't a bad game at all. The action is fast and frantic, the graphics impressive and the music also atmospheric. The only disappointment is the gameplay which isn't as fun as you would expect. Still, those of you on the lookout for a solid FPS, and/or and online game will probably enjoy this title to some degree.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSSome very nice menus and cut-scenes, some minor frame rate issues.
SOUNDThis is how a war game should sound, loud and brutal. Poor speech.
GAMEPLAYUnfortunately not quite the exciting game we were hoping for.
VALUESingle player isn't overly long, but the online gameplay adds value.
OVERALLKillzone isn't the game we were hoping for. The graphics and sound are superb however the gameplay needed a bit more work to bring it up to the top level. Still, a very good title worth considering.

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