- It's a Dual Shock-shooter showdown! We load you up on all the details on two of the PlayStation 3's biggest titles of 2008.
Master Chief may have pwned 2007, but he's about to get trounced by two heavyweights. Resistance 2 and Killzone 2 are slated for a fall release, priming 2008 to be the banner year for shooters. Even better, PlayStation 3 should see a big boost due to the exclusivity of these games to the console.
Both are gunning for the spotlight, but it will be up to gamers to decide which comes out in the lead. We dissect both shooters, giving you a heads-up as to what you can expect from two of this year's most anticipated titles.
A shooter isn't a shooter if it doesn't have cool weapons. Resistance had them in spades, which isn't surprising given Insomniac's track record of packing tons of awesome weapons in its Ratchet and Clank games. The company has remained quiet on what firearms will populate the sequel's arsenal, but we're fairly certain everything from the original will make a return.
Standards like the M5A2 Carbine and L23 Fareye sniper rifle fulfill the need for some real firepower; however, it's the experimental weaponry that gets our interest piqued. Hedgehog grenades better be returning in Resistance 2 so we can slice Chimeras to ribbons with needle-like shrapnel. Piercing through walls with the Auger rifle wouldn't half-bad either. Resistance worked so well because every weapon came with an alternate fire, which lent to an immense amount of variety and firepower. As long as Resistance 2 keeps to this formula it'll surely be a winner.
Realism is the name of game in Killzone 2. Every weapon has been modeled after a real-world counterpart, some even exactly (like the bazooka). Differences among the guns are less pronounced than those featured in Resistance, but that's part of what makes the arsenal so realistic in Killzone. Whereas the Chimera equip weapons completely different from humans, the Helghast essentially hold counterparts to their human opponents. For example, the M-82 Assault Rifle barely differs from the Helghan StA-52 LAR Assault Rifle. This supports the realistic feel of Killzone 2 even if it means not including cool experimental guns.
Edge: Resistance 2
The choice is clear: Resistance 2. Better, more diverse weapons and each carries an alternate firing mode. Killzone 2 earns points for realism, yet it isn't as fun without any creative experimental mods to mess around with.
Although both games possess a washed-out military look, there are key differences between the war-torn America of Resistance 2 and perpetual darkness of Killzone 2. Distinctions between the two games make each experience unique, particularly in the face of so many shooters. Resistance 2 manages to do this by reworking American history. Chimera forces move from Europe to a United States still deep in a depression. Sepia tones characterize a nation tired of economic woes and weary from defending its coasts from invasion. Hale's mission to preserve American freedom is urgent--do or die. Humanity's bleak outlook can easily be felt in the visuals.
A good argument can be made for Killzone having survived an onslaught of harsh criticisms thanks to a gritty visual style. Practically devoid of color, the graphics instill a sense of hopelessness and desperation. It's uncomfortably believable, as is its story. The plight of human colonists transforming into hideously deformed figures on the toxic planet Helghan creates a moral dilemma--do you feel sorry for these outcasts or hatred for their vengeful campaign to dominate humanity? This is a serious shooter, one that carries a heavy weight not felt in Resistance.
Edge: Killzone 2
Aiming less for exacting realism and more a believable science-fiction fantasy, Killzone 2 gains the edge with a dark, brooding style. No other game captures the same brooding look and feel.
Would you trust this face?
Shooters usually don't focus much on developing a main character, yet both the Resistance and Killzone series have invested heavily in their protagonists. We know very little about Sergeant Nathan Hale aside from how he unwittingly became the centerpiece of humanity's war against the Chimera in the original Resistance. His role becomes even more important in the sequel where his battle against the Chimera turns internal. After becoming infected with the Chimera virus, Hale turned from ordinary American GI to a bad ass super fighter thanks to an innate viral resistance. Too bad it also made him incredibly creepy, giving him eerie glowing eyes to complement his super strength.
Killzone 2 ditches the hero from the first game for a new interest: Sev. A special forces operative in the Vektan army, Sev leads the initial assault on the Helghan homeworld. His stylish faux-hawk makes him appealing to the hipster crowd, though whether it bolsters his command charisma remains to be seen. Unlike Hale who'd rather shut his mouth and shoot, Sev is keen on chatting with his fellow soldiers. Early footage from Killzone 2 shows brief chatter between Sev and company as they descend into the Helghan capital.
Edge: Killzone 2
Sev definitely gets the nod here, but only because Hale is a freak with those glowing eyes. Never trust a man infected with an unknown virus and glowing eyes.
60-player matches via PlayStation Network immediately set Resistance 2 apart, not just from Killzone 2, but any shooter out there. The 32-player bouts in the original game were complete bloodbaths, so nearly doubling the player cap is only going to increase the chaos. Multiplayer in the first Resistance was often so out of control that you'd re-spawn only to get fragged seconds later. Fortunately, Insomniac is addressing this issue by encouraging squad-based tactics in these new 60-player matches.
New modes will undoubtedly make their way into the mix, joining popular ones like deathmatch and breach. Of course, if you'd rather avoid the huge competitive rounds there's always an 8-player cooperative mission. Resistance 2 will be the first game to ever feature it. Interestingly enough, Price describes online coop consisting of unique missions instead of simply remixing the single player campaign. All of this comes packed with a slew of online features including clans and experience points.
As for Killzone 2, little is known about what it will offer on the multiplayer side of the equation. Looking at what was available in the first game we can make an intelligent projection as to what the sequel will offer. PlayStation Network supports a wider range of features than previously possible so expect a larger maximum player count and expansive maps. Beyond this, we're in the dark as to what Killzone 2 will bring to the table.
Edge: Resistance 2
Resistance 2 handily takes this category. Without concrete details on what Killzone 2 will offer, it can't stay competitive in the face of a smorgasbord of features and 60-player matches. There's no question that the multiplayer in Resistance: Fall of Man surpassed the original Killzone--that alone gives Resistance 2 the edge.
Play through the "Path of Least Resistance" level where never-ending waves of Chimera hybrids and leapers stream through the ruins of rural England and you'll understand exactly how hairy combat in the original Resistance can get. The game threw huge numbers of Chimera at you and the sequel promises to do that and more. New enemies and improved AI routines will double the intensity. Chimera hybrids are undeniably vicious, especially with their new armor plating. These pale in comparison however to the new Chameleon that has the ability to cloak itself.
Even more daunting are massive 100-feet tall Goliaths--mechanized monsters towering high above the battlefield. There's a brutal, almost animal-like tinge to the action that sets Resistance apart from other shooters. Throw in rumble to feel the vibration of lumbering Goliaths and Sixaxis motion-control to frantically shake off Drones and Resistance 2 should prove a pretty intense experience indeed.
Killzone veers off into a different direction, going for a more deliberate style of combat. Variety is traded in for intelligence. Helghast forces band together to execute tactics and possess a sense of self-preservation. These are smart dudes that don't go down without a serious fight.
Plus, their glowing eyes are downright creepy. Those orange goggles have a purpose in Killzone 2 that didn't exist in the first game--night vision. On their dark stormy homeworld Helghast soldiers can peer through the thick air to locate your position. As if the little Darth Vader clones weren't enough to scare the crap out of you, the virulent Helghan weather makes combat tricky. In Killzone 2 you'll fight against the atmosphere as much as the Helghast.
Edge: Resistance 2
Helghast soldiers certainly take the cake for being deadlier, yet there's little variety among their ranks. Scores of different Chimera species promise more dynamic action and a raw, primitive feel to combat that Killzone 2 just won't possess.
Developer Track Record
You never really know who's going to create the next big game. Development studios like Insomniac Games have a well-documented history of creating fantastic games--ever heard of Spyro the Dragon or perhaps the multi-million-selling Ratchet and Clank series? Insomniac is practically the Midas of the game industry, turning every game they touch into gold.
The first Resistance has sold well over a million copies and it still remains the best-selling PlayStation 3 game to date. Resistance 2 is the company's third title on the PS3, which means they've already got the experience under their belt. That experience is going to get them far, especially when you consider the superior quality of the original game is only destined to improve.
On the other end of the experience spectrum is Guerilla Games, creators of the Killzone franchise. The company has a total of 3 games in their portfolio compared to Insomniac's 10: the first Killzone for PlayStation 2, its follow up on PSP, Killzone: Liberation, and the oft-forgotten Shellshock: Nam '67. Killzone: Liberation is the only game among the trio that received universal praise, whereas the other two titles were slammed for a number of flaws. This is both good and bad.
It's good because Guerilla Games has an opportunity to avoid their past mistakes, but it can end up being bad if they stick their collective head in the sand and ignore the warning signs. We're eager to see a repeat in the high quality that characterized Killzone: Liberation, although it's a tough in the face of a lukewarm record.
Edge: Resistance 2
The safe bet here is on Insomniac. While the amount of hype swirling around Killzone 2 has us hoping for an amazing shooter, we're more confident assuming that Resistance 2 will exude at least the same level of quality as the original if not more because of Insomniac's experience.
The Final Verdict: Resistance 2
Resistance 2 takes the victory over Killzone 2. On sheer style alone, you'll find us praising Killzone 2 any day. When it comes down to it, it's all about gameplay and Killzone 2 has more hurdles to overcome than Resistance 2. The promise of 60-plus multiplayer matches, and even more community features than the original gives Resistance 2 an advantage that Killzone 2 can't match right now.
As the year moves forward, expect more details to surface on both games that could easily shift the balance. For now, we're leaning toward Resistance 2 on reputation and what information Insomniac's put out there.