||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (August 2013)|
European box art
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Director(s)||Mathijs de Jonge|
|Composer(s)||Joris de Man|
|Engine||Havok (game physics)|
Killzone 2 is a first-person shooter video game for the PlayStation 3, developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the second main installment in the Killzone series, following 2004's Killzone. Killzone 2 was released worldwide late February 2009.
Similar to its predecessor, Killzone 2 takes place in the 24th century and chronicles the war between two human factions; the Vektans, and the Helghast. The game takes place two years after the events of Killzone and follows protagonist Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko as he and his unit battle the Helghast as the Vektans invade Helghan. Killzone 2 is played from a first-person view and allows the player to use a variety of weapons.
Killzone 2 was widely anticipated prior to its release. It was critically acclaimed by critics and fans, who praised it as a superior title to the original Killzone and an improvement over its predecessor. Additional praise was given to the game's visuals, action, multiplayer modes, soundtrack and atmosphere, although criticism was directed at the narrative. The game's critical and commercial success led to a sequel, Killzone 3, which was released on February 2011.
The game is presented almost entirely from a first person perspective, aside from vehicular combat. Killzone 2 features a "lean and peek" cover system which allows the player to take cover behind an object and then pop out to fire at enemies. The "lean and peek" mechanic stays in first-person view at all times. It is also possible for the player to pilot vehicles at two points in the game: a tank and an exoskeleton. Many classic weapons and vehicles from previous Killzone installments return, such as the M82-G and the StA-52 LAR. The Sixaxis motion control feature is also utilized in performing certain actions such as turning a valve, arming an explosive charge and sniping.
Warzone, the title of the online multiplayer component of Killzone 2 has been developed by Guerrilla Games in conjunction with the game's single-player campaign. The online multiplayer gameplay is class-based, meaning the player can choose a class of character which is specialized for a specific role to better suit the player's needs in battle. There are 7 classes in total, in which the player can mix and match a main and sub ability according to their playing style, and can switch abilities upon death. There are 15 weapons available to the player, most of which cannot be used until the player reaches a certain rank. Two of these weapons are secondary firearms, and a further two weapons, the Boltgun and Flamethrower, are exclusive to the downloadable maps "Suljeva Cliffside" and "Arctower Landing".
Players play as either the ISA or Helghast, with a few gameplay differences. The character model and respawn points, and the "lean and peek" cover systems were removed. Each class levels up with experience gained from killing enemies or completing mission objectives. With enough experience, players unlock new weapons and skills, as well as a new class. Each class has two badges, the Primary badge selects the class and their specified skill. The secondary badge has an extra skill for the specified class but can be swapped to create own custom class.
Warzone plays out through dynamic matches where multiple game types are played in a single round. The game ships with five different game types including Assassination, Search & Retrieve, Search & Destroy, Bodycount and Capture & Hold. Online matches can connect 2 to 32 players, and they can group into six squads of up to four players. If an online match does not have a full 32 players, computer-generated "bots" can be added in to create bigger teams (but only in an unranked match). Killzone 2 also offers a clan system, which allows clans of up to 64 players to compete for "Valor Points", an in-game currency that clans can use to bet on tournaments.
Players can also play offline against AIs with Skirmish mode and unranked online multiplayer, but there is no offline multiplayer mode for splitscreen players.
Eight multiplayer maps are included on disc at release, but Guerrilla has released more maps as downloadable content. 6 more maps have been added to multiplayer since release via downloadable content purchasable from the PlayStation Store.
Killzone 2 follows the events of Killzone and Killzone: Liberation, and is set entirely on the planet Helghan, the home world of the Helghast who invaded an Interplanetary Strategic Alliance (ISA) colony, Vekta. In 2359, two years after the Helghast assault on Vekta, the ISA launched an assault on the enemy's home world of Helghan. The ISA goal is to capture the Helghast leader, Emperor Scolar Visari, and bring the Helghast war machine to a halt. Players assume the role of Sergeant Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko, a battle-hardened veteran of the special forces unit the "Legion" assigned to Alpha team, who goes on a mission to take out the Helghast threat.
During the invasion of Helghan, Sev's unit is deployed behind enemy lines to assist the main invasion force. Tasked with securing the enemy capital of Pyrrhus, Helghan's first true city, the team quickly discovers that the Helghast are a more formidable enemy on their home planet. Not only are they well-adapted to Helghan's hostile conditions, they have also harnessed the power of the freakish lightning storms that always occur on Helghan which they can now use against the ISA. A cold, barren, unforgiving world, Helghan provides a ready defense with thick, acidic air, dust clouds, and violent surging lightning storms. Sev discovers his squad is not just fighting enemy forces—their fiercest opponent may be the planet itself.
In the prologue, the ISA has set up their fleet of Cruisers, including the New Sun, in the clouds of Helghan over the Helghast capital city, Pyrrhus, preparing for a final assault to take the city. Unable to get their capital ships close to the city and destroy it with bombardment due to Helghast anti-aircraft firepower, the ISA deploys an invasion force. The ISA's troops, including Alpha Team, are deployed in an attempt to capture the city. The invasion is seemingly successful until the Helghast activate their main defense system, a barrier of electric arc towers throughout the city, killing many ISA soldiers, crippling the first wave of the assault, and slowing the ISA's advance to a crawl; however, the fight between the ISA and Helghast continues with unmitigated ferocity as the slowly retreating Helghast desperately repel the ISA forces, who ultimately seize Visari Square.
Using an intact piece of an arc tower destroyed earlier in the campaign, scientist Evelyn Batton discovers that the arc towers are powered by an element called Petrusite, and large portions of the mysterious element are located around the Tharsis Refinery on the outskirts of Pyrrhus. The refinery is thought to be abandoned. Alpha Team is ordered to accompany Evelyn and travel to the outskirts of the city in an attempt to find a way to disable the towers.
During the mission, Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko and Rico Valesquez depart from the team in order to activate a communications tower. Before the tower is activated, however, Dante Garza, Shawn Natko and Evelyn are captured by Helghast. Eventually, Sev and Rico find their squad, only to see Colonel Mael Radec, a ruthless Helghast commander, interrogating the group in the hopes of obtaining the launch codes for the Helghast's stolen set of ISA nuclear warheads. After the squad refuses to give information to Radec, he loses his patience and threatens to execute the group. While Sev, realizing the danger of rushing into the fray, waits and attempts to find a good location to ambush Radec's unit, Rico's impatience causes him to rush in, attempting to save the squad. Unfortunately, Garza is mortally wounded in the ensuing firefight, and Radec escapes. The only thing the squad can do is return to the New Sun before they are attacked again. Evelyn heads to the nearest communications tower to call for extraction. The squad is then attacked by more Helghast troops, but the group is able to fend off the attack. Unfortunately, when ISA support finally arrives, the injured Garza collapses and dies in Sev's arms.
Back aboard the New Sun, Sev mourns for Garza; however, he is interrupted by a surprise Helghast counter-attack on the ISA fleet. All ships, including the New Sun, are boarded. In the assault, Colonel Radec reaches the bridge where he personally executes Evelyn and mortally wounds Fleet Commander Colonel Jan Templar. Before leaving, Radec steals the nuclear strike codes for the (previously stolen) nuclear weapons. Before he dies, Templar manages to deactivate the thrusters on the New Sun, sending it crashing onto Tharsis Refinery, destroying the city's Petrusite defense grid.
With the defence grid deactivated, the ISA advance and attempt to regroup near Visari's palace in Pyrrhus; however, a nuclear bomb is deliberately detonated within the city by the Helghast, destroying it and liquidating most of the ISA forces. With the fleet decimated and the ISA ground campaign crippled by the blast, Alpha team and the last remaining ISA troops attack Scolar Visari's palace.
The ISA troops manage to breach the palace and Sev and Rico try to fight their way to Visari's throne room, but encounter Radec and his personal guard. Sev and Rico eliminate Radec's guard and manage to severely injure Radec; he commits suicide to avoid capture.
Still under orders to capture Scolar Visari and deliver him to the Vektan high command, Sev and Rico find the Helghan leader waiting for them in his throne room. He tells Sev and Rico that the war is far from over and seemingly goads them to kill him, telling them that in death the Helghast will remember him as a martyr, and subsequently unleash terrible vengeance upon the remaining ISA forces; his survival is all that is keeping the Helghast "under control." Rico, determined to avenge Templar and Garza, the latter of whom died due to Rico's own errors, and has left him wrought with guilt, falls for Visari's provocation and guns the Helghan Emperor down. As Visari succumbs to his injuries, he mutters his last words: "The madness...begins."
Worn from what he has been through and disillusioned with Rico's execution of Visari, Sev leaves the palace and sits on the entrance steps. There, he sees an overwhelmingly giant fleet of Helghast ships, which were believed to be destroyed by the first ISA wave, initiating an assault on what is left of the ISA fleet.
- Sergeant First Class Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko is the main character of Killzone 2, and part of the ISA Special Forces Alpha Team. He is a withdrawn and unusually contemplative man. At the age of 25, he's already been in several successful campaigns, but they've also exacted a toll on him. He's an imperfect soldier in a perfect army. He is voiced by Demetri Goritsas.
- Corporal Dante Garza is a member of the ISA Special Forces Alpha Team. Smart-mouthed and young, Garza is a loyal, optimistic, and trusty soldier who has earned his elite status. A close companion of Sev, the pair have served together in several campaigns before being picked for Alpha.
- Master Sergeant Rico Velasquez is a veteran of the ISA. He is a human tank who prefers to shoot first and ask questions later, if at all. He is all attitude, but despite this, he has a good heart. Rico prefers an up-front fight and is a character of extremes; he gets agitated easily and does not refrain from taking action. During the orbital defense platform crisis, Rico was left stranded by a brutal Helghast attack and consequently befriended Templar, Luger, and Hakha. Later, he became embedded with Alpha Team to spearhead the invasion on Helghan’s capital, Pyrrhus.
- Corporal Shawn Natko is the demolitions expert for the ISA Special Forces Alpha Team. An experienced soldier of the same generation as Rico, Natko made a steady rise through ISA ranks before joining Alpha Squad.
- Colonel Jan Templar is the commander of the ISA fleet and the cruiser New Sun. Protagonist of Killzone and Killzone: Liberation, he leads the invasion of Helghan from the sky without actually being in the field.
- Scolar Visari is the ruler of Helghan. He is responsible for the re-militarization of the Helghan troops after their defeat following the First Extrasolar War. Visari previously succeeded in launching an invasion on one of the ISA's colonial planets, Vekta, to avenge what he sees as the abandonment and abuse of the Helghast. He is voiced by Brian Cox.
- Colonel Mael Radec' is the commander of the Helghast Imperial Guard, Visari's personal guard, and defends the planet Helghan. He is shown to have a desire for killing, and prefers action rather than planning. Determined and ruthless, he is called the hound of Visari. He is voiced by British actor Sean Pertwee.
- Weapon Specialist Evelyn Batton is Templar's assistant. She focuses on the technical aspects of the ISA's nuclear weapons and knows the codes to the nuclear weapon "Red Dust" which has been seized by the Helghast. She joins Alpha Squad to help reclaim it in one mission of the game.
At E3 2005, Killzone 2 was debuted with a trailer depicting soldiers landing in a hostile war-zone on Helghan and fighting Helghast forces. Critics in the media argued that the trailer shown at the trade show did not show actual gameplay footage, as its high level of visual detail has been argued to be impossible to render in real-time on the PlayStation 3 and the audio mix of the trailer was slightly delayed. SCEA's Vice President, Jack Tretton, stated that the footage of Killzone 2, that was believed to be pre-rendered, "is real gameplay everybody's seeing out there". Several days later, Phil Harrison, SCE Europe's Vice President of Development, stated in an interview that all of the footage of PlayStation 3 games at E3 2005 were "running off video" which was "done to PS3 spec". Further interviews eventually revealed the trailer was indeed a "target render", a prerendered video showing the developer's goals for the finished product.
At the Game Developers Conference in 2007, a Killzone 2 teaser was shown behind closed doors, and was never released to the public. It featured various battles, destructible environments, and lighting effects among others. Killzone 2 was shown to a panel of journalists at a special pre-E3 2007 event in Culver City, California, and then the next day to the public at Sony's E3 press conference. An in-game trailer showing real-time gameplay of Killzone 2 was also released, along with several videos of extended gameplay. A number of media outlets since E3, such as the BBC, have referred to Killzone 2 as being "one of the most cinematic and immersive games ever produced on a console." At the Leipzig Games Convention in 2007, Killzone 2 was presented in playable form to the media. It was the same demo level as shown at E3 2007, although journalists were allowed to play it hands-on. At Sony's PlayStation Day 2008, the first level in Killzone 2’s single-player campaign was presented, named "Corinth River".
Michal Valient, a Senior Programmer at Guerrilla Games, presented details of their Killzone 2 proprietary game engine at a Developers Conference in July 2007. As with many other titles published by SCE, including LittleBigPlanet and Infamous, Killzone 2 uses a deferred shading engine which enables far greater control over the game's characteristic lighting palette, while maximising processor throughput and limiting shader complexity. Other games to use similar approaches include Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto IV and GSC Game World's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. However, this approach does create some additional problems; notably with respect to anti-aliasing and transparencies. The former was solved using a MSAA Quincunx (multisample anti-aliasing) solution, and the latter by the addition of a standard forward rendering path. The game's graphics were universally praised by critics.
The animation was done in Maya 8.5 with some motion capture animations tweaked in MotionBuilder. 3D artists, animators and level designers used Maya as their production environment, which is unusual considering that most 3D games are produced using 3ds max. A large library of custom Maya tools and scripts was created to support these different disciplines. Tools like "Hyperion", a lightmap rendering software, were used in place of Maya’s viewport rendering software. In-game animation was assisted with another tool they created called "AnimationBlender" and particle effects were edited using a tool called "Particle Editor". They also created a tool called "ColorTweaker", which gave them the possibility to do color correction on the PS3 in real-time.
Most of the animation was done using motion capture with some animations, reload animations for example, done by hand. Facial animation was done using blendshapes with bones for the jaw and the eyes. Lead tech artist, Paulus Bannink, explains that "The main reason for going with blendshapes was the relative ease with which they can be transferred to different faces, it would also provide a more artist friendly way of editing the facial animation rig.". The cut scene facial animation was done using marker motion capture. In game dialog was done generically using MotionBuilder after audio files were plugged in. The game was developed not only by artists in Amsterdam, but also by people living in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Korea, the UK and the US. The data files, gigabytes in size, were sent over the internet.
|Killzone 2 (Original Soundtrack from the Video Game)|
|Soundtrack album by Joris de Man|
|Released||October 19, 2009|
|Genre||Orchestral, Video game soundtrack|
The score to Killzone 2 was composed by Joris de Man, who scored 60 minutes of in-game music and 30-minutes of live orchestral score for the game, recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, with the Nimrod Studio Orchestra. The score was produced and mixed by Rich Aitken, regular mix partner for Joris de Man and Marc Canham, at Nimrod Productions.
|Killzone 2 (Original Soundtrack from the Video Game)|
|1.||"Opening - Birth of War (Retribution)"||3:40|
|2.||"The Second Helghan March (Helghan Forever)"||2:21|
|4.||"Bridge is Down"||1:47|
|6.||"Protecting the Convoy"||3:14|
|7.||"Flight into Blood Meridian"||0:45|
|8.||"Fight Your Way Through"||3:21|
|10.||"An Unexpected Guest"||0:58|
|11.||"The Police Station"||2:33|
|12.||"Resistance on the Bridge"||0:53|
|13.||"Taking the Bridge"||3:03|
|16.||"Fight the A.T.A.C."||1:59|
|17.||"A Day of Mourning"||2:36|
|19.||"Next Stop Tharsis Refinery"||2:26|
|20.||"Question Time with Radec"||1:18|
|21.||"Dante Garza RIP"||1:58|
|23.||"Templar's Last Stand"||3:45|
|26.||"Radec's Personal Guards"||3:10|
|28.||"End Credits Suite"||8:07|
|29.||"Fight the A.T.A.C. (Remix)"||1:12|
Beta access was given to a select number of North American and European PlayStation Network subscribers. The beta consisted of three online multiplayer maps; "Blood Gracht" (small), "Radec Academy" (medium) and "Salamun Market" (large), with unlockable ranks and character classes ("badges"). Beta testers had their own statistics and have the ability to enter clan competitions. Beta access was private and thus could not be shared with other PlayStation Network accounts. Also, beta testers are tied with Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. by a non-disclosure agreement; therefore they were not allowed to reveal contents of the beta experience. A technical demo of one of Killzone 2's TV commercials, known as the "Bullet" trailer, was released on the PlayStation Store on April 2, 2009. The demo features the commercial itself, the ability to shift camera angles and film speed, and several commentaries from key development staff at Guerrilla Games.
On February 5, SCEE released a single player demo of Killzone 2 on the European/Oceanic PlayStation Store. The demo includes the first two sections of ‘Corinth River’ (the first level of the game) as well as the tutorial sequence from the final game. A demo card, granting access to a Killzone 2 demo was also offered to US gamers who pre-ordered the game at GameStop. The US demo was also made available to those customers on February 5, 2009. In the North American version of PlayStation Home, if users found an avatar dressed in a Helghast costume, the avatar with the Helghast costume would give that user a code for the demo. This occurred on February 16, 2009. On February 26, the demo was made available for download from the PlayStation Store in North America.
In the North American version of PlayStation Home, if users pre-ordered Killzone 2 from Amazon.com, users received free male and female I.S.A. and Helghast uniforms for their avatar. In the European version of PlayStation Home, if users participated in the "Killzone AM" event that took place on Saturday March 28, 2009 at 11 am CET for one full round, the Home Managers gave the participants a code for the Killzone 2 uniforms. Requirement was that users had to have a United Kingdom PSN account. For a limited time in Japanese Home, users received an I.S.A. uniform for watching the Killzone 2 trailer and answering a questionnaire. To get the Helghast uniform in Japan, users had to do a pre-order. In Home's shopping complex, there are fourteen — seven for male and seven for female — Killzone 2 themed shirts available for purchase as well as the Helghast Tactician uniform. A costume for Radec was released on March 4, 2010 to the European Home and has been released in the North American.
Guerrilla Games have released a Killzone 2 themed apartment called the "Visari Throne Room" for Home. The Visari Throne Room apartment is based on the throne room inside Visari's Palace from the final mission of Killzone 2. For the Visari Throne Room, there are five pieces of furniture based on actual palace furnishings from Killzone 2: two types of Visari-style chairs, an administrative desk, a plant container with authentic Helghan vegetation, and a freestanding painting which portrays an important moment in the colonial history of the Helghast. The Visari Throne Room and matching furniture were made available to the European Home on July 2, 2009, the North American on August 27, 2009, and the Asian and Japanese Home on October 9, 2009.
On April 10, 2009 Hermen Hulst, Managing Director from Guerrilla Games announced on GameTrailers TV that Killzone 2 will be getting a DLC map pack named "Steel & Titanium" which will contain two new maps called Wasteland Bullet and Vekta Cruiser. With new gameplay elements and strategic twists. The first DLC map pack was released on Thursday, April 30. Hulst stated that the next Killzone 2 DLC map pack that they will be releasing will have a 'Retro Vibe' to it.
The second map pack was officially announced on May 20, 2009 as "Flash and Thunder", and features two maps previously seen in Killzone called "Beach Head" and "The Southern Hills". Both maps followed the first map pack by bringing new gameplay elements and strategic twists; Beach Head, the wide open battlefield, with rain-filled trenches, and Southern Hills with its intermittent nuke explosion. It was released on June 11, 2009. Both map packs have twelve trophies that go along with them, six for each map.
On July 10 the third map pack was officially announced, even though Sony stated that there were no plans for a third pack. The DLC "Napalm and Cordite" was released on July 23, 2009, it contained two new maps "Suljeva Cliffside" and "Arctower Landing", in addition to the maps the Flamethrower and the Boltgun both from singleplayer made their debut in multiplayer. The Flamethrower is found in the Suljeva Cliffside map and the Boltgun is found in the Arctower Landing map. A multiplayer map pack bundle was also released to coincide with the release of Napalm and Cordite, containing all six maps from the DLC packs, for the price of four maps. The downloadable content pack three has eight trophies that go along with it, four for each map which are for the new weapons. With the fifth anniversary of the original Killzone taking place, the map pack "Flash & Thunder" was reduced in price in North America and Europe.
Reception and sales
Killzone 2 received critical acclaim upon release. Critics praised the graphics, presentation, intense action, gameplay, and multiplayer, with criticism aimed towards the story and characters. The game received a GameRankings score of 90.44%, and a score of 91 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Australian Official PlayStation Magazine gave Killzone 2 a 10/10, and the game was said to have "amazing, fluid graphics and animation" as well as "beautifully constructed levels and intense sweaty-palmed action." The review concluded saying "Killzone 2 is the best console first person shooter ever made". In their February 2009 issue, the U.S. version of Official PlayStation Magazine gave Killzone 2 a score of 5/5, stating players "will instantly tag this sequel as a powerful contender for best game of 2009." In the February 2009 issue of the Official UK PlayStation Magazine, they awarded Killzone 2 a 9/10 with the editor Tim Clark stating, "The most surprising thing isn't the visuals - anyone who's seen recent footage will know it's the most handsome thing on the system - but the fact it's got the gameplay to match".
GamePro gave a perfect score, praising graphics technology and multiplayer depth. In their review, Edge gave Killzone 2 a 7/10, praising the online multiplayer, attention to detail, "unparalleled graphics" and the pacing of the single-player campaign, but included criticism of the game's use of "gameplay clichés" and its weak storyline and characters.
GameSpot did not review the game until after its release so that they could experience its online multiplayer features in more depth. Reviewer Kevin VanOrd gave Killzone 2 a 9/10 saying: "Killzone 2 boasts amazing visuals, an intense campaign, and extraordinary online play that will keep you coming back for more." but described the game's story and characters as "forgettable" and said that the motion controls seemed "tacked-on".
The debut sales of Killzone 2 in the United States were 323,000 within 48 hours of launch. The game failed to meet expectations in March and April, when it sold 296,000 and 58,000 units respectively; by the beginning of May, the game had sold 677,000 copies in the United States. Killzone 2 debuted at number one in UK sales to become the fourth fastest-selling Sony published title ever. In Japan, the game debuted at number 3, selling 41,000 units. On April 16, 2009, Sony announced that sales of Killzone 2 had surpassed one million worldwide.
Killzone 2 won 'Best PS3 Shooter' from IGN. It won 'Best Competitive Multiplayer', 'Best Sound Design', 'Most Improved Sequel', and 'Best Shooter' from GameSpot editor's choice. It won 'Best Graphics' in the G-Phoria 2009 Awards. It also took in Game of the Year from Gamereactor. The soundtrack also won gaming's first Ivor Novello Award. In the 2009 Edition of their top ten PS3 Exclusives, ScrewAttack placed Killzone 2 as the fourth best.
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