Back in 2004, Sony released the first-person shooter called Killzone on the PS2. Given how Sony was touting the game, some areas of the gaming press dubbed it ‘The Halo Killer’. This put the game under massive scrutiny and, inevitably, the game didn’t live up to the extreme billing. Now the game has been given a new lick of paint and is now in HD on the PS3. The game centres around two distinct factions, the ISA and the Helghast and follows a group of ISA soldiers intent on stopping the Helghast, the orange-eyed, British accented neo-nazis who have launched an assault on the ISA home planet of Vekta.
Speaking of Helghast, it turns out that they are massive bullet sponges in Killzone, since they take a massive amount of bullets to kill, especially in the later levels. Early in the game, however, they are much easier to kill. They are pretty proficient killers too, since they seem to have unerring accuracy, especially with grenade launchers which can kill you in one hit. However, in the original game they had a tendency to not react to the player and would stand still allowing you to kill them. This is also the case in this new version. They also have issues with getting behind cover; they’ll crouch behind cover but still be fully visible.
One the ISA side, you start off as Jan Templar who is an ISA captain and leader of the group. Alongside him is Luger, who is an assassin and the only female character in the game. Then there’s Hakha, who is a Helghast but switched sides for some reason. Finally there’s Rico Velasquez, the most popular, and unpopular, character in the series. Rico does deliver the best line in the game though when he asks, "What the f**k’s a Shakespeare?" Once each character joins you can play as any of them. They each have a different weapon and, in the case of Luger, give you access to routes in the levels unavailable to the others.
The levels in Killzone offer a wide variety of locales over the eleven chapters though are repetitive like the original game, as each area looks very similar to the last but rearranged. The graphics do look pretty good up-scaled to HD with the exception of some blurry textures; the mountain level in particular looks fantastic. There are no waypoints to tell where to go, but it’s not really an issue, given how linear the levels are for the most part. The levels also offer multiple routes which allow you to plan a strategy in order to achieve your objective, which is mostly kill the Helghast with the odd button pushing to break up the shooting. This also gives you a chance to flank the enemy since later in the game, since the bullet sponge brigade comes out in full force and in numbers. Taking them on head on will only lead to death. One downside is that the levels have a poor draw distance and things pop into view as you are moving and can make things difficult in regards to shooting. A limitation that carried over from the PS2, no doubt. The campaign length is pretty sizable too and can take around ten to twelve hours to complete depending on the difficulty and how good you are.
Killzone feels old-school in that it doesn’t have a jump button. The checkpoints in the game are few and far between as well, so if you die you may have to replay a sizable section. This makes things frustrating later in the game as the early levels are much easier. It also has health packs coupled with some health regeneration. The shooting has some serious recoil too but is very satisfying once you get the hang of it. The arsenal at your disposal throughout the game is the usual FPS fare: assault rifles, pistols, shotguns, SMGs, LMGs, grenade launchers and RPGs. The gun models look great in HD and the reload animations don’t get old. The controls are fine once you change them since the default ones are terrible. R3 for zooming; really, Guerilla?
The guns sound good too, and they feel powerful to use. Oddly, there’s no music when playing the game and things can get very quiet after a firefight, which is strange given that the sound effects are good. Another oddity is the voice work. The same things can be said all the time by the Helghast; though hearing ‘Scatta grenade’ is great every time. Another thing is that when your teammates are talking during gameplay it can cut out mid-sentence, and any voices you hear have the same volume no matter how far away they are.
In between the levels, Killzone has FMVs which ties together the story and the levels. Unfortunately, unlike the game itself, these haven’t been up-scaled and look blurry. Outside of the campaign, there’s also an offline multiplayer mode which can be played solo against AI controlled enemies or split-screen with a friend. However there’s no online mode which is a bit disappointing.
All in all, Killzone HD is a competent remaster of a solid game. Don’t expect the highest quality of gaming. However, if you are a fan of FPS games or have played the sequels but never the first game, then I would recommend you check out Killzone, which is available as a standalone release on the PlayStation Store or as part of the Killzone Trilogy compilation.