Killzone 2 has been delayed to February 2009. That's perhaps the most shocking news to come out of Sony's recent PlayStation Day in London. Definitely more shocking than, say, the fact that the PS3 has outsold the Xbox 360 in Europe. So I headed over to the ridiculously small Killzone 2 booth Sony had erected to get some answers and, hopefully, some hands on time with one of the PS3's most anticipated titles.
The booth was manned not by staff from developer Guerrilla Games, but by SCEE staff, staff who were perfectly knowledgeable about the game but perhaps a little ill-equipped to answer questions on the delay. "It's to do with our publishing schedule," said one. "We saw our line-up for 2008 and thought we could push it back." In other words, Sony doesn't want its two premier shooters, Killzone 2 and Resistance 2, going up against each other and suffering from reduced sales as a result.
Common sense prevails then. But that won't stop Killzone fans who have been waiting patiently for the sequel feeling bitterly disappointed by the news. Onto the second burning question then: will Killzone 2 be worth the wait? We joined the ridiculously long queue to get 20 minutes with the game to find out.
The first thing that hits you is the graphics. Whatever your opinion of the infamous 2005 "is it in-game or isn't it?" trailer, three years later and it looks like Guerrilla has made good on its promise. The graphical detail really is tremendous. Soldiers' faces contort realistically, enemy Helghast react differently depending on where you shoot them, explosions rain in from all directions, flying soldier carts land at a whim and platforms and cover crumble as the going gets tough. It really does look like the sci-fi version of the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan. I'm impressed. Taken aback even. And all this from just looking at someone else playing the game.
But it also looks very grey. Very, very grey indeed. Whether this is a criticism or a compliment will depend on your personal outlook on the shooter genre as a whole, one which some say has grown a tad stale from focusing on being gritty. The Killzone 2 level demoed at PlayStation Day, called Corinth River (actually the second mission in the game, following a tutorial mission), is perhaps one of the greyest video game levels I've ever seen. The vehicles are grey. The soldiers are grey. The ground the soldiers land on in their first encounter with the Helghast is grey. The industrial structures, one of which you eventually infiltrate, are grey. Like I said, Killzone 2 looks very grey. It's the best-looking grey game I've ever seen.
But how does it play? From what we can glean from the 20 minutes or so it took to complete around five objectives from the start of the game's second mission, it's a solid, functional shooter that ticks all the right boxes, but leaves us feeling a tad under-whelmed in the wow factor.