The point though, is that you do get used to Killzone 2's unique controls. Eventually your brain starts to catch up with the game, and you find yourself compensating for the delay in movement and accurate targeting. You come to know that Sev takes a while to turn corners when you're clicking in the right thumb stick to sprint. After a while, perhaps by the second or third mission, it all starts to come together.
Perhaps Guerrilla Games' greatest achievement is that the Amsterdam development studio has somehow managed to make a game that, at times, not only reaches the graphical fidelity of that E3 2005 trailer, but even surpasses it. A debate has raged in the VideoGamer.com office in the last month: are Killzone 2's graphics better than Crysis'? In many ways, it's an unfair comparison, since Crysis is open world, but it's fun to argue about that sort of thing.
Killzone 2 has been called many things: Sony's Halo killer, better than Gears of War 2, that sort of nonsense. Why Halo? Because it's a first-party FPS, a system seller, a reason to fork out £299 on a PS3. Why Gears of War 2? Because it's grey. Comparisons with Halo are silly, so different are the experiences. Comparisons with Gears of War 2 are equally pointless. Killzone 2 has this perception of being grey, like, some people reckon, Gears of War. Yes, it's dank and gritty and war torn and depressing, but that's only telling half the story. After mission five Killzone 2 moves from the urban street battles of the Helghan capital city to more expansive, colourful environments that not only add variety to the scenery, but add much needed changes in pace and gameplay. There are ridiculously fun turret-centred levels, tanks to play with and, get this, even a mech level.
Really, Killzone 2 is more like Sony's answer to Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat, without the invisible enemy spawn-ending barriers. The single-player campaign has that same visceral, in your face, fast-paced feel to it. Each fire fight pits a set number of Helghast against you that need to be killed before the saving symbol flashes in the top-left corner of the screen and relief washes over you. Defend an area against waves of enemies; attack a heavily defended position until there's no-one left, that sort of thing. Then auto-save, move forward and repeat.
There's a moment towards the end of the game when this gameplay technique reaches its fun-filled peak. Sev and the rest of the ISA invasion force are storming a heavily guarded structure. At the start you think, there's absolutely no way I'm going to do this - there's just too many of them, and they're too dug into cover. But you inch forward, suppressing, flanking, taking out Helghast one at a time. As bullets whiz by your head and cover gets torn apart by mini-guns, as grenade explosions rock the earth, as the whole world seems to be coming down around you, you slowly but surely gain ground until suddenly there's no-one left to kill and the game saves. Sit back, inhale, exhale, notice your heart racing, a ringing in your ears, your palms sweating, your fingers shaking. This is what you bought your PS3 for.
The graphics, then, are what make Killzone 2. They're what make it the triple-A title it is. They're what made forum goers across the internet salivate over animated gifs torn from snippets of gameplay footage. And they're what make the game great despite its obvious failings.
You retry after every frustrating death because every single Helghast kill feels as if it's too good to be true. You soldier through the repetitive mission objectives because what you're looking at feels as if it's being beamed in from a console from the future. You ignore the linear design because the levels slap you in the face and refuse to let you think about anything else. The graphics, the sheer technical monstrosity that is Killzone 2, unequivocally make up for its failings.