Which are, in no particular order, story, dialogue, personality and the complete non-event that is the promise of skewed morality. First, the story. The premise is that the ISA has invaded the Helghast home planet in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to capture Scolar Visari, the Hitler-esque dictator who's got his trigger-finger on the nuclear warheads he nabbed at the end of the PSP game, Killzone: Liberation. The plot might have been interesting, but really it's not. You don't care that the Helghast has some kind of secret weapon up its sleeve. You don't care about any of the human characters, whether they're from the four-man Alpha Squad or the ISA at large. Indeed the game almost admits that the plot isn't the point right from the off - there's little effort at explaining what's gone before, what's going on as you're playing or what effect the anti-climactic ending has on the story as a whole. The point, rather, is to point, shoot, kill, and be impressed.
The dialogue is another bone of contention. Testosterone-fuelled, profanity-filled one-liners have grated for a couple of years now, due in no small part to the popularity of the Gears of War franchise. Although not as ridiculously meaty as Delta Squad, Alpha Squad's members are just as stereotypical - muscle-bound US marines with personalities so devoid of complexity that they make WWE wrestlers look like Oscar-winning actors.
That's to be expected, perhaps. A necessary gaming evil, maybe. What's more disappointing is how Killzone 2 completely ignores the promise of moral ambiguity Guerrilla made in the run up to the game's release. This won't be a clear cut, black and white, good guy versus bad guy yarn, we were told. Are the Helghast simply misunderstood? Should we be surprised they've got issues when their home planet is ravaged by relentless gales and terrifying electrical storms? Is Scolar Visari just doing right by his people? None of these questions are even given a cursory glance until the game's last moment, an event that feels more like a primary school right and wrong lesson than philosophical beard scratcher. No, forget tear-jerking drama or shocking twists, Killzone 2 is all about blowing stuff up and looking great doing it. It's no more complex a conundrum than that. Anyone expecting any more from the game will be disappointed. Anyone expecting any more from the game is missing the point.
The multiplayer is absolutely class. It's called Warzone, a mode that pits up to 32 players in an ISA versus Helghast kill-em-up broken up by dynamically switching five-minute objectives. At the end of a Warzone match, which can last up to half an hour, whichever faction has won the most missions wins the round, and experience points are dished out accordingly. Killzone 2's got an in-depth progression system as well as seven playable classes to sink your teeth into. Think Team Fortress 2 spliced with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and you're halfway there. It's all a bit confusing, but about as good as anyone could have hoped for. Much of the appeal won't be known for a few months, of course, but Warzone could be the best online experience on the PS3.
Why isn't Killzone 2 a perfect 10? The lack of a co-op mode is the biggest reason. It seems an odd choice, not just because co-op is modern day shooter de rigueur, but because it feels as if the game was built for it and then, right at the last minute, the feature was cut. For about 90 per cent of the game you're playing alongside at least one other member of Delta Squad. More often than not it's two of you versus the world, or a boss. There are times when you'll play Killzone 2 and think, wow, that would have rocked with a mate, and then feel a little sad because you're not. Even if the game's too demanding to allow two players to take on the Helghast on one console, why not facilitate the feature across PSN?
Killzone 2's been hyped waaaay too much, of course. And, no, it doesn't live up to the hype, because if it did it would be the greatest FPS of all time, which it isn't. But it is the best PS3-exclusive to date. Better even than LittleBigPlanet and Metal Gear Solid 4. Two years into the console's life cycle, the undoubted graphical potential of the machine has been realised - Killzone 2 unleashes the power of the PS3 - nothing on any console comes close. The sheer OMG!-ness of the experience makes Killzone 2 worth buying a PS3 for. And, given how much they cost, that's one hell of a compliment.