What's the game about? By now you should be nicely familiar with Sony's long awaited first-person shooter for the PS3. It's been the highlight of several of the company's E3 press conferences, and has been steadily gaining hype as we've seen its cinematic visuals nearing the experience Guerrilla set out to achieve in the incredible target video released early on.
What's new for Games Convention? At E3 last month, Sony gave a rundown of all the multiplayer options that Killzone 2 will support -- a pretty darn substantial offering. At the Leipzig Games Convention, Sony allowed us to actually get our hands-on the multiplayer game. Sony also confirmed that there will be AI bot support, allowing you to include bots in multiplayer games for when there's not enough human players in a match; according to Sony, they'll mimic human behavior so well it'll be hard to realize the difference. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see them in action to judge this for ourselves.
What's our take? Up until now I'd viewed Killzone 2 primarily as a single player experience -- it's always just struck me as a very cinematic FPS, making an emphasis on story and staged events. Having played it for a good while at Leipzig, I'm convinced the multiplayer is getting just as much attention -- Killzone 2's multiplayer should be able to hang with the best of them.
There are eight different maps to choose from (more will be available for download later), with some better suited for massive 32-player skirmishes while others designed for just a handful of players. Before entering battle, you choose your character's badges, which essentially dictate how you want to play by offering you different abilities. For example, you could choose a medic badge which gives you the ability to revive players and carries a health pack, or you could choose an engineer badge that lets you repair things and use sentry turrets.
Since you can choose two badges and combine them, you could then create, for example, a medic engineer who can revive people and repair things. The neat thing about the badges is that you can switch these on the fly before respawning. And speaking of respawning, one neat aspect regarding that is that you can see real-time video feeds of what's going on in each spot, so you don't accidentally end up spawning into the middle of a firefight. Also cool is the ability to respawn wherever the team's leader is.
Killzone 2 offers all sorts of map customizations, such as choosing your mission types (i.e. Assassination, where you hunt down an enemy soldier chosen at random, Search & Destroy, where you have to trigger explosives, Body Count, where it's all about how many kills you pull off, etc.) as well as the weapons you'd like available. We got to play rounds on both a small and large map, plus modes like Assassination.
I'm happy to report that it was fantastic -- multiplayer felt great and was tons of fun. The available weapons were nicely varied and all felt substantial, the map designs were cool (with a good mix of open and confined areas, staircases, and windows), and there was a fair amount of strategy, such as placing sentry guns in key locations. I had so much fun playing that it was hard to pull me away to let others check it out.
The only concern I have at this point is the occasional slowdown I noticed when the action got a bit too intense. It wasn't bad at all -- it didn't affect the gameplay -- but it was certainly noticeable at times. Here's hoping this is something Guerrilla can polish up before the game hits, though it may just be an irreparable side effect of just how much detail it's pushing on-screen (an all-out firefight in Killzone 2 multiplayer really is a sight to behold).
Still, with the multiplayer gameplay already so good, and with all of the other multiplayer goodies Guerrilla is supplying, from clan support to online leaderboards, I'm convinced Killzone 2 is going to keep playing long after the single campaign is complete. More PlayStation 3 News...