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Killzone HD Review
When Sony started doing HD remakes of its classic PlayStation library (understanding that everyone’s definition of classic is different), it started a trend that’s gone farther than some may have guessed. God of War came out with upscaled textures, widescreen format and a much faster frame rate than when it was originally released on the PS2. This opened the floodgate for more Sony games to be remade as well was some third party games. We are now to the point games that very few people are looking for updates on, get updates anyhow. This trend is obviously making cash for someone and the only way to stop the bleeding is for us to stop buying.
Killzone is one of those titles that no one really wanted. I don’t recall a large group of internet users coming out and beating down the door for this one. When these HD updates became viable for today’s market, you knew people wanted a Ratchet & Clank or Metal Gear Solid. No one was hoping for the same with this one.
Released very late in video game’s last generation, it is amazing at how dated Killzone feels now, just 8 years after its release. While games like the previously mentioned MGS have had their gameplay hold up to the test of time, the advancements within shooters in our current generation has made Killzone feel downright geriatric. Nothing about this game stands out, not even when compared to many of the games it was released with. The only things I personally gained from playing this were an appreciation of how far first person games have come, as well as a hatred of not being able to aim down a sight.
The story is what every Killzone is about. The Helghast are the terrible, horrible people from another planet who are trying to take over and rule the galaxy with an iron fist. The ISA is a group that fights for freedom and… Oh god, I am so bored typing this that I am just going to stop.
The story doesn't matter. It’s told through horrible looking cut-scenes (which did not appear to get any HD love other than a widescreen stretch) with even worse voice acting. It is sad when a review gets to the voice acting before controls or graphics, but the voices, and sound in general, are done so poorly it takes precedent over a lot of other things within the game. The cut-scenes are probably where you will find the ‘best’ voice acting, but it is still not very good.
The in game stuff is what’s really going to ruin this game for a lot of people. If you thought Rico was annoying in any of Killzone’s sequels, you ain’t heard nothing yet. Everyone is annoying here. The Helghast will run from corners, straight at you yelling “KILL HIM!” what will be probably be hundreds of times in a playthrough. Your AI partners repeat the same lines over and over and over again. Luger’s go-to line is to tell you to make sure you aren't seen. Then she tells you to go in guns blazing. Sometimes she says these things close enough to each other that they feel like a sentence, which then leads to confusion. Make up your damn mind, women! Am I going stealth or am I going Rambo? Hakha, the rouge Helghast solider who joins the ISA side midway through the game will tell you (again, probably hundreds of times) that you are “Taking this war rather personally, aren't you?” I would reply with a bullet to his stupid, bald head, but there is no friendly fire.
The last, completely jarring, issue with sound is the fact that you are in a war with tanks, enemies and guns, yet…. It’s quiet. At times silent. It’s just bizarre to be on the battlefield with no ambient sound at all, just people yelling and the sound of a few guns blazing. We have gotten so used to decent sound production in this generation that the poor use of sound in the game was distracting. Killzone can’t get a pass on this because there were excellent sounding games released years before it was. There is no excuse for it to be as bad as it is.
Graphically, the HD remake did this no favors. Some textures do appear to have gotten higher resolutions while others still look like mud. Pop-in and slow-down are ever-present in the game, which is ridiculous given the system it is running on and the low quality of overall visuals factored in. Sometimes you will get lost in an area because the same scenery repeats over and over. At the very least, Guerrilla Games did try to make varied landscapes with the standard industrial setting being mixed up with swampland and snowy drifts. Overall, this is a bad looking game; the only thing that was done well was the weapon reload animations, which is a sad thing to say about a games graphics.
Game play is what really matters, right? It is, and despite all the previous annoyances the game will provide, it’s not a completely horrible experience. It’s not a good one either, but if given the choice between this or Damnation, you’d be better off in Killzone. There are a lot of weapons to fire, but something rather critical is missing from the formula, the ability to look down a gun’s sights. After a while, it felt like more of a mental issue than an actual problem, but as something we have all become so used to in our games, the lack of ability to have a sight on every gun made the gunplay feel weird. Still, some of the guns were fun to shoot and that’s all this game was really made for, anyhow.
You do have an AI squad, but don’t expect them to help you. They always stay behind you and at times even shoot at you. At one point, I entered an area with some walls, sat next to the wall for some cover and my entire team knelt with the wall 2 inches from their face. Thanks for the help, guys. Enemy AI is no better. They run at you 90% of the time and when they aren't running at you, they stand still. Even on the hardest difficulty, the enemies are entirely predictable.
On top of dumb AI you get very few clues on what to do at times. There is no map and no mission checkpoints telling you where to go. Maybe we have gotten too used to games telling us what to do so we are soft, but I don’t want to have to walk around a terrible looking game longer than I have to because my mission objectives aren’t clear. Another massive issue is that you have to hold down L3 to run. Have you pushed down the L3 button to run in a game recently? No, you haven’t, because it’s terrible way to handle that gameplay mechanic. The last gameplay annoyance is the huge gaps in checkpoints. I can somewhat forgive this as maybe the attempt was for the game to be more difficult than average, but there will be a few times you are cursing the checkpoint system.
There is a local multiplayer component as well, but with the ability to take KZ2 or 3 online, there is no reason to play it. While it’s useless now, it may have been the one of the game’s better offerings at the time it was originally release, in 2004. It has enough gameplay types and settings to mess with, if you are inclined to play against some bots for a while. The max allowed players is two, with the screens being split, one on top and one on the bottom.
So what do we have here? An ugly game with a story that doesn't matter, characters that are both uninteresting and annoying, stupid emery and teammate AI and gameplay that feels extremely dated. There really are no redeeming qualities about this game, other than the large variety of weapons to use. Maybe (huge emphasis on that word) hardcore Killzone fans (all 4 of them) that care about the story of the game will get something out of this, but even that is a massive stretch. This was clearly just made as a throw in for Killzone’s collection disc, but it also retails for $15 on the PSN. Since they are expecting actual money for this game, things like frame rate and controls should be fixed. HD remakes are close to jumping the shark and Killzone might be the act of The Fonz putting on his water skis.
Story & Presentation:
Story doesn't matter and the presentation is lackluster.
Slow down and pop-in abound. At least the locations do feel varied.
Not fun but not horrible either. It just feels very dated.
The worst sounding game I have played in years. It is so bad it made what could have been an average game into a terrible one.
This is why the vast majority of people who play this, will play this. You are able to use cheats to get around easily. The only reason this doesn't get the highest score is you have to play this horrible game almost 4 times.