Preview: Killzone 2

Gritty sci-fi FPS

GamePro had an opportunity to play a 10-15 minute segment from Killzone 2's second level. I noticed right away that Killzone 2, which is due for release early next year on the PS3, has made huge progress since I last saw it. The framerate is much improved and the physics engine is perhaps the game's most impressive feat. It's no slouch in the graphics department, either. The gritty, war-torn environments make a great setting for this intense FPS.

Once I got familiar with the controls, I had tons of fun mowing down enemies throughout the demo. The cover system lets you attach to any cover object by pressing L1. Once you're in cover, you can simply aim your reticule on an enemy, and once you press fire, you'll pop out and shoot. But if you want to zoom in, it's a little more difficult. I couldn't exactly find a way to zoom and stay completely behind cover, but I was still slightly protected. I was told the cover system is still getting tuned, and this is still a work in progress, of course.

The early part of the demo was awesome. Coming out of a cut scene that shows Helghast bombarding the ground from several dropships, I took out a couple gunners that were stationed in turrets with an assault rifle, then made my way to a blocked bridge. Thankfully, a rocket launcher was strategically placed nearby. I loaded it up and fired at the bridge, exploding it like all hell. Once through, I made my way to an inside section. Here, Helghast used cover, too, but grenades and a single-shot assault rifle were a big help. I also popped a few helmets off with the pistol, which is handy if you're out of ammo in the big guns.

One cool new gameplay feature is called "buddy assist." It's a team-based system that triggers you to cooperate with A.I. team members to do context-specific things. In this case, I was prompted by a crouched soldier to launch me up to a high ledge. I was told there are plenty of different buddy-assist spots throughout the game.

There was also one instance of Sixaxis-based gameplay. I reached a point where two Helghast soldiers were firing at me from a window across a gap. I, admittedly lucky, heaved a grenade in the window and blew them practically out the window, leaving one of them hanging out by his feet. Once the action was over, there was a valve that needed to be turned counterclockwise, and by holding down the L1 and R1 buttons and tilting the controller to the left, the valve turns. Releasing L1 and R1 and tilting right, positioned my hands back to the other side of the valve, where I could then inch it along until it popped.

The demo came to an end after I took care of a few more Helghast baddies. Overall I was impressed with the progress so far, and admittedly the game has made a lot of headway in the last six months or so. With expectations so high — we all remember the delays — it's hard to live up to them. Fortunately, Killzone 2 is on the right track.

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