What is a critique? Is it a game review? No. Though many game reviewers hail themselves to write 'critiques', many can hardly be considered a critic in that manner. A critique is a deep and intuitive look at a game. In comparison to others of its genre, and other genres. The game is examined on many different levels, social commentary and such are covered. The critique is not a buyers guide, it is a deep examining, an autopsy even, of a game. You do not deliver bias, the platform it is on is of no matter. It is the game, and what it achieves that matters.
It is very hard to explain a critique, so here is a link that delve right into the depths of what a critique is (feel free to skip this of course):
I aim to critique a game on a regular basis for the community of Destructoid, because i like you all so much :) I shall hail it as "Critiquing For the Ages", snazzy i think :P Now my following critiques will not be as long as this, but this critique was actually a university assignment, and that is why it is so lengthy. If you are wondering, i scored very highly indeed ;p Remember, the critique does not entail a buying guide, neither a score. Just an in depth view of the game. I hop you enjoy:
Killzone 2 is a hyped up futuristic, WWII mirroring, action game set in the distant future on the planet Helghan. The core gaming experience falls directly into ‘First-Person shooter’ genre easily and quite enjoyably. All aspects of the game mirror the core first person shooter experience: from the menu, music, aesthetics and lamentably clichéd supporting characters. The key viability of the game in the currently flooded first person shooter market is that it is made to be enjoyable. In a generation of video games being pumped out for a quick buck, Killzone 2 comes across as being about the experience and not the money. When you get down to the bearing of the entirety of the experience that is Killzone 2, you come to realise this game is catering to the hardcore gamer. Though the term ‘hardcore’ is thrown around a lot without any real merit as to what the term implies, we can assume it associates itself with a demographic within a demographic. In this case, the gamer who has been playing since his earliest memories and does not play to pass the time, but to make up time. With this in mind, Killzone 2 is clearly slated for this demographic. It has tight, but not easy to perfect controls. It has slight and subtle references to the original Killzone. But, most of all, it carries with it the weight of immense hype and industry regard. With the game comes in depth information of how it utilises all SPU’s and is the first console game to use FSAA (full screen anti-aliasing), something a ‘casual’ gamer would not care/worry about. Killzone 2, though a first person shooter can entail more than just that genre in its game play. As a game, it sits on the wide spread spectrum that is a ‘shooter’. This classification brings with it a large amount of genres. In this way Killzone 2 can take on the role of a ‘tactical shooter’. Plotting your course from A – B can be justifiably a lot harder than shooting everything in your path: timing, aim, and skill all come into play, as well as taking into account enemy formations. Though the linear style in which the levels are presented and set out can more than defeat this point easily.
With first person shooters being such a used genre as it is, it becomes hard for the genre to establish itself as a serious and competent genre, but the first person shooter genre is a genre that can shift the way all games can and will be viewed. Many of the recent titles that have evolved video games have been first person shooters. A particular title of choice to mention is Halflife/Halflife 2. The halflife series has been well known as always reaching the next milestone in gaming. The graphics are always breathtaking for their time, the physics and the simple but fun and intuitive game play is near unrivalled by games of any generation. It is styles like this in a game that an easily evolve/change the way games will and must be produced. When a game is released, it is instantly compared to the lead title of the genre; this in kind facilitates the way games are made, and what values they base their entirety off of. Killzone 2 takes most of its style and game play from the original title in the series, slated to be an amazing and groundbreaking title, the original fell short in most respects. Killzone 2 as its own game and how it cements itself upon the gaming entirety mainly falls down to the games presentation and graphics. Though the titles story is admirable, the lasting affect the game will leave is its amazing graphics and excellent presentation. It has cemented how a console games can look like a PC title, people are able to look at the PS3 now and realise the distinct capabilities of the console. The graphical capabilities utilised in Killzone 2 are like nothing every achieved on a console game. The game utilises all SPU’s in the playstation 3’s architecture. After the original trailer displayed at E3 2007 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lRAPncF5qw) turned out to be a pre-rendered scene and not actual game play it created an uproar, but Guerrilla Games promised they would produce a game that is superior in visual quality whilst being played. Hailed by most to be an impossible task, they have achieved the set goal. The game surpasses the trailer easily, and not because of sheer graphical prowess, but the artistic direction the game takes. Gritty, and brutally realistic in its own right, the games graphics are vivid, but it is the way the characters are presented, the enemy is hidden behind a mask, and Helghan is coated in a seemingly everlasting night in the industrial areas, added the foggy air and smog filled air, and the gritty, dim lighting of the cities enthral with a kind of uneasy feel to even be on the opposing forces planet, you feel the dread of this not being familiar or friendly territory. This is all easily visible in the games artistic style, all manner of emotion and emphasis can come about from watching a lone Helghan soldier wandering an alley idly waiting for conflict. But, before the artistic style comes the graphical capabilities. Simply said, Killzone 2 is the best looking PS3/console game to date. The high polygon and sharply textured models only compliment the artistic direction taken. Smooth animations add to realism. Watching a Helghast troop scuttle for cover when being overpowered by suppressing fire is enjoyable and equally visceral in its own right. Running through the landscape is smooth and hardly ridged. Moving the gun to aim allows for a swing to happen when the gun reaches its aligned position, allowing for a realistic feel a swinging the gun into place. All the graphical power and animation quality add to the feeling of playing Killzone 2.
When the opening cinematic begins to play, it is easily distinguishable as a WWII alternate. From the Helghan leader, to their flag it can easily be distinguished as WWII influenced. The war is being waged between 2 different forces, rather than different countries, it is a sake of different planets. The regime of the Helghan is a mirror of that of the Nazi regime, in which the Helghan wish to instate their own regime and way of thinking to Vecta.
In Killzone 2 you are thrust into the eyes of ‘Sev’. You are a part of the first wave of troops to hit Helghan. It is your goal to capture the head of the Helghan regime to take to trial. There is little for back-story on Sev or any of the supporting characters. Interaction between the few is kept to a bare minimum. Key and pre defined lines are spoken by all in completely constructed situations. There is no real immersion between the player and his comrades. The game attempts to remedy this, by having their lines seem friendly in the macho-male aggressive jokes, but falls into the territory of samey ‘your mother’ lines. Allowing only disdain for your ‘friends’ rather than any really connection with them. This does shallow out the experience of the game as they seem to just be pawns bellowing clichéd action movie lines for background noise than characters you would care about, drawing back part of the story and the story telling. The story is a very shallow and standard first person shooter story, not allowing for much imagination to be put into it. But, for how the story is delivered, paced and concluded does allow for the player to cherish the experience as a better delivery of story in a first person shooter in a long time.
In order to complete the main goal you are thrust into combat with the core ability to move, jump and shoot. All controls are mapped easily to the controller, and have many different control schemes to choose from, allowing for easy alteration to match different players likes. The controls are intuitive but not groundbreaking in any way, but they add enough depth to the game in a way that makes it easily accessible but also deep enough to allow for a deeper grasp on the controls. Killzone 2 lacks in depth in comparison to platform or action adventure games, but allows for a form of depth that is intuitively different. When a game falls into its particular genre it takes a different form of immersion for it to be fitting for its genre. A platformer usually entails a comical styling for it to be immersive in its way, it allows for it to be appealing in its own manner. A mystery game must use atmosphere and dialogue in its way to be immersive in its own way. Games of particular genres must be able to use a different style for it to be immersive in its own way. Killzone 2’s immersion is based upon its graphical style and artistic direction. The atmosphere is dark and dank; the air (though unbreathable) seems thick and plagued with smoke and heavy dust. The action is loud and fast, it allows for a distinct feeling that you are about to die, the idea that at every blinking moment a gun is aimed at you, and if not, because it is recalling from being fired at you. It is through this kind of immersion that shooters require. You feel that you are Sev, and are disheartened if you are killed. It is this kind of depth that allows for the player to get in key with the story and all the happening around you. The idea of the Helghan force coming down upon you does bring about a feel of dread and immense pressure. It is in allowing a player to be the character that we are able to get more of a feeling for the story than heavily driven dialogue. Though this feeling can be limited for the fact that the game does not vary much in its presentation or game play, as well as linearly presented levels in a very dank, but familiar Helghan. Every now and again having to bunker down to hold off a wave of enemy troops, though welcomed conventions, nothing out of the ordinary is introduced in order to equal out more than a simple experience on the base level.
When the character is thrust into the action you are given the key goal to achieve, but are also appointed with secondary (not necessary) goals. Hidden beneath simple dialogue of it being a case of data collection and symbolic defamation, you are tasked with destroying all Helghan symbols you come across, and collecting all data briefcases in the game. Though rewards can be yielded from the games website, this only adds for a simple replayability/trophy hoarding game play. Not at all necessary, but a catering mechanic for the achievement junky. After that comes the main goals during the game. You are all knowing to the fact that you must capture the Helghan leader, but you are always tasked with separate ‘secondary’ goals to achieve in order to proceed closer to the inevitable goal. Generally your higher ups will direct your commands at you simply and coherently via communication link or your superior on the field will simply yell it at you. Befitting of the environment that the player is and a keen and easy way to let you know what you must be doing at all times, and why. The different goals to achieve generally keep the game moving along nicely, speeding it up when needed and keeping it at a quiet, but nerve racking pace otherwise. A good choice in that regard, most goals seem to be cohesive in the way that they allow for you to move at your pace, but allow for the action to push you along at its own set pace. Unfortunately Killzone 2 is far too linear to even allow the player to venture more than 10 feet from the set path. This is a key mechanic in a shooters pacing, but it can perceivably be seen that the game does not allow for the game to be played very differently then what they wish you to do. The enemy AI allows for some variance in game play however. Though the enemies are not a testament to game AI, they certainly allow for the game to seem tight and heavy hitting. They aim straight, but are not given god like accuracy to allow them to strike you down whenever it may be deemed necessary. But, they are smart enough to use cover, evade fire and use flanking and cover fire tactics, forcing the player to think on their toes, allowing for an extra layer of immersion to the game play. The team AI is different however, they neither care what formation you wish to take or how you wish to execute a manoeuvre. They seem to be on a set path, and only deviate to keep themselves covered. This takes away from the point of being in a squad at all, as the squad does not back you up. They will fire upon other enemies as they see fit, but will not allow for cover fire if you wish to flank an enemy’s position. This takes away from some of the immersion, as you are taken out of the role of the player in that manner, and are forced to view everything as though you were by yourself, and not at all assisted. In this way the game is taken back from being technically empowered in that manner, as it seems to revert back to the foundations of other first person shooters, where you are a solo protagonist, really drawing away from the core aspect of the game.
Once the plight is over, the game does come short in the length department, allowing for several, but not many hours of game play for the game on medium setting. Though admirable for a first person shooter, lastability in a game is becoming more than tacked on tasks that can only be completed as soon as the opportunity arises, requiring more play throughs to equate for more play time. But, with the first person shooter genre, lastability must be utilised into a form of competitive multiplayer experience. Something Killzone 2 has in droves, it allows for teaming with friends into ‘squads’ allowing for the players to take on different roles and communicate internally with each other rather than the entirety of the match. But not only is the multiplayer a fun experience, it also a deeper experience than the single player experience, allowing for team mechanics that can only be utilised with precise timing and accuracy. However this kind of arrangement is only achievable with close friends primarily, as public games will see every player going lone wolf. The multiplayer is a deep experience, probably the deepest available on the console, and does not feel like a tacked on experience as most multiplayer modes do. Some effort has gone into and has allowed for it to be an admirable effort. A multiplayer first person shooter game of note that Killzone 2 has eagerly been compared to is Halo 3. Though Killzone does lack the charm and ease of play that Halo holds so heavily, you must compare them in their own way. Killzone’s multiplayer is an experience to be taken without a grain of salt. It is gritty and hard hitting, where as Halo 3’s multiplayer is to be taken with a bit more of a laugh, as it is meant to be fun, and for this reason it holds its own in a different manner to Killzone 2. Against such a multiplayer juggernaut like Halo 3, Killzone 2 does fall short in the way players can communicate. As Sony only just introduced text chat between players while in game, a step forward, but falling short in comparison to the Xbox 360’s in game microphone communication between friends. Making match making for multiplayer matched very difficult. This is not so much of a technical shortcoming of the game, but more of the console it is on. Though the online scene for playstation 3 is large and free, it lacks a homey feel that is a community that can be easily accessed and used for player to player interaction, making serious online gaming in Killzone 2 hard, but very rewarding.
Killzone 2 has been granted 2 piece of downloadable content so far. This is a very welcomed addition, but it can cause an imbalance, as it is $5USD for 3 extra maps (within each pack respectively) for the multiplayer experience. Though heavily priced for maps, this may be something forced upon the player, as servers are locally hosted by players, and the players most likely to host a server would be enthusiasts of the game. Who are likely to have purchased the map pack, in a way limiting access for some players, but this can be considered a smart way to sell the map pack.
Killzone 2 is a core addition to the first person shooter catalogue. A flooded market as it is, this game stands out amongst the rest for its amazing graphics and decent delivery of story and intuitive game play as well. Killzone 2 stands out amongst other games of the same genre easily, and games of other genres, it has cemented the quality that future developers will create their games, knowing what is possible and having such a benchmark to try and compete against. As i mentioned earlier, there are several games that change the way games are made, even simply for the bar level they set, but this allows for quality titles to be developed. If a game does not come near a game of note, then it will not sell as well, forcing developers to create games that are engaging and enjoyable at the same time. We evolve to adapt, entertainment mediums are no different. Evolution of a genre causes evolution of a platform and in kind, evolution of a medium.
There you have it, 3,000 words covering the depths of killzone 2, if you havent played it yet (shame on you :P jk) this hopefully delves a bit deeper into the core mechanics and gameplay of the title. As i mentioned above, my following critiques will be much shorter (will try to keep to 1000 words lol), but i hope you enjoyed it, or what you probably just skimmed over :D read