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Killzone 2: Can amazing looks make up for an utter lack of personality?

Brandon Erickson's picture

Killzone 2

Throughout my playthrough of Killzone 2's single-player campaign, I regularly found myself making comparisons to Gears of War 2. This might seem strange given that these are very different games, one being a first-person shooter and the other being in third-person. But they share a certain gritty meat-headed quality that made it impossible for me not to think of one while playing the other. And again and again, the resounding conclusion I kept reaching about Killzone 2 was that it was missing one very important ingredient: personality.

Sure, the dialog in Killzone 2 sucks. It makes Gears seem like it was written by Shakespeare. Don't get me wrong, the dialog in Gears is pretty stupid, but it's at least sort of smartly stupid. And sure, Killzone 2 could have used some kind of extra gameplay hook to help set it apart from the crowd. Gears has its chainsaw bayonet, but there's nothing similarly unique or interesting in Killzone 2's combat. But I could probably forgive these things if Guerrilla had bothered to inject the game with at least a shred of personality.

Personality in a game is hard for me to define, but I know when it's not there. Maybe it has something to do with the character design, or the voice acting, or way the weapons handle. I'm not entirely sure. It just seems that with all the money and time Guerrilla spent on making Killzone 2 into a visual powerhouse, they forgot to spend any of that $20+ million budget on hiring some decent writers and actors. It's a shame, because aside from it's utter lack of charm, it's actually a fairly good game. Let's hope that Guerrilla can muster up some creativity for the next installment.

So do Killzone 2's amazing graphics make up for its lack of charm or personality? On a single playthrough, I'd give a tentative yes. But I don't think I'll be coming back.

Category Tags
Platform(s): PS3  
Developer(s): Guerrilla  
Series: Killzone  
Genre(s): Shooting  
Articles: Columns  

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Agreed on the story

Agreed on the story elements. KZ2 is a pretty game--there's no denying this--but it did feel like it lacked personality (I haven't played the whole campaign, so I was hoping maybe this changed at some point--apparently it doesn').

I'd never point to Gears 2 as a shining example of narrative building, but at least Marcus and Dom are easy to identify with. I never felt any kind of connection with Sev or any of his squadmates--they felt like guys culled from video game casting central.

That being said, I still enjoyed the KZ2 that I've played and look forward to finishing it. I just wish there was a little more going on beneath the pretty graphics.

Personality and Quality

What you mean with the word "personality" is what Pirsig meant with the term "Quality".

The game lacks "Quality". It's objectively speaking a good game. Many subjects (i.e.: gamers) will say that it is a good game.

But before the division between objects and subjects, there is Quality. And this game is lacking in that department.

well....

You say that Objectively Killzone 2 is a good game. That is completely reliant on your personal belief that the basic shooter mechanic constitutes a good game, which is completely subjective, so I think the need to spout off a philosopher in blog comment shows your complete lack of thought.

Oh I forgot, are we commenting on a game or talking about what we learnt in class?

I find the only way a shooter has ever engaged me was with its story as I find the gunplay to be quite boring, so I can see why Killzone 2 is lacking in personality.

This usually means I force myself to play thought the game just to see the story unfold, which completely defeats the purpose of it being a game but more a visual story where I have to force myself to play for generally, a pretty small reward.

Quality

"You say that Objectively Killzone 2 is a good game. That is completely reliant on your personal belief that the basic shooter mechanic constitutes a good game, which is completely subjective"

When I say that the game is objectively good, I mean that it does what it is supposed to do and that it is what it claims to be. It works as a first person shooter and it works well. It achieves the goal the creators had in mind. There are no huge flaws.

"Good" does not imply personal taste here, it just states that a goal is achieved.

Subjectively, many people will love this game.

But then there is personality, which I translated as Quality, just to put things in a broader perspective. Maybe next time when a game is reviewed or commented on on this blog, this extended interpretation of what is wrong with the game, could be helpful.

I never took a philosophy class and am merely interested in the idea of Quality as explained by Robert Pirsig.

I also love games, and I don't see why a discussion about a game should be free of any philosophical remarks.

I also don't understand why you would make a personal insult, saying that I have a "complete lack of thought".

Mind you, this insult comes from someone who plays shooters for their good storyline and even forces himself to play through a game to know the whole story (which usualy is just about saving the world or cross the evil plans of the Illuminati)..

I don't like the word 'personality' when it comes to games,

since games are not persons, so let me call it 'character' ;-)

Yes, character can make or break a game for me. And as so often it's totally dependent on the person playing a certain game to find it interesting or not.

For example: I think Halo is boring (I never cared enough to play Halo 2 or 3 for that matter) but I know a couple of people who think it's the best thing ever. And I never got a grip on Resident Evil 4.

But then again: I loved the Mechwarrior-series with all it's complicated sim-like handling. I was trying out other Mecha-based games but nothing came close to the experiences I had with MW 2: Mercenaries. It was not the prettiest game, although it looked decent with the 3dfx-patch. So I take this as my personal example for a game that has not the best graphics ever, but catches me with it's special character.

Doom 4 on the other hand looked really pretty when I played it on my (back then) top-of-the-range PC but it was just... boring.

Doom 4?

I mean Doom 3 of course...

personality.

I think, for me, this game has an amazing amount of personality.
The personality lies in the thrill and excitment and immersion. Gears of war and halo do not ever make me feel the same, this is what sets it apart. The graphics, the gritty nature and voice acting all add to the stew of horror that is war, and killzone 2 make me feel it like nothing EVER has. It may not be a completely different concept but it hits the nature of war dead on with a sledge hammer.
When I hear the voice acting in gears two I almost puke, I don't do so when I hear it in killzone 2, I can't really explain why, maybe I feel that I wasn't drwn into the environment the same way as in KZ2, it fits so good in killzone 2.
So for me the personality is in the intensity that no other games have offered the same way, you feel like your really there some times, it's a great thing.

You just looking for a reason to hate on it

The game has enough personality. The helghast and there glowing eyes and crazily realistic tactics and their hate for humans, scolar Visari was an outstanding actor and the end was amazing and his speech followed by everything in the end is truly an amazing set up for the next game. The M82 itself gives the game personality, trying to compare to gears is simply a waste of time, Killzone 2 has enough personailtu and a real good world created as Helghast, sometimes ifeel that Helghan is real and Visari too. So your criticism is flawed but I appreciate your oppinion on this great game. Goes to show how much people are talking about it and trying to find some small flaw. I myself am playing through in elite because the enemies never act the same. It's amazing. Sorry for the mistakes, writing on my iPhone. Cheers.

I've only played through the

I've only played through the first few missions, but I doubt I'll be playing very much more…

I definitely agree that the graphics in this game are on a level all by themselves, but the rest of the game feels sorely lacking. I have no connection to the characters, the level design feels very uninspired and dull, the pace of play feels off and there is an unmistakable feeling of heavy-handed scripting throughout… it's hard to describe, but the action doesn't feel self-directed at all. Instead, I feel as though I'm being led from scripted moment to scripted moment by someone who didn't know how to script moments properly. I also can't get away from the feeling that the Helghast pop out from Pez dispensers for me to mow down courtesy of the developers wanting to ramp up the action. Oh, and the controls-- I’ve played a ton of FPSs and I've never had as much trouble getting a bead on someone as I did here.

It's certainly a beautiful game, but that's about all I'll give it. After one afternoon, I've got absolutely no desire to come back to it.

Cole Train?

Scott, how does Gears voice acting make you puke and yet you turn around and praise KZ2's?

With Rico you've got the Cole Train wannabe king in your face for the whole game! That alone almost killed KZ2 for me and certainly lowered my personal score of the game.

At least in Gears you only have to endure Cole for short bursts and then he's at least trying to be funny. All Rico knows how to do is growl/scowl and try to use the term "muther f*cker" in as many creative ways as possible. I've never seen a more juvenile character in a game before.

To each his own I guess.

I'll never understand why

I'll never understand why people get so defensive over their beloved games. It's just one's opinion. Whether someone likes it or not has no direct affect on you and whether or not you'll enjoy it.

And by the way, I'm a HUGE first person shooter fan, and I completely agree that this game has no personality/character/quality. When you people stop jacking off to its graphics, maybe you'll realize that.

Anonymous wrote: I'll never

Anonymous wrote:

I'll never understand why people get so defensive over their beloved games. It's just one's opinion. Whether someone likes it or not has no direct affect on you and whether or not you'll enjoy it.

And by the way, I'm a HUGE first person shooter fan, and I completely agree that this game has no personality/character/quality. When you people stop jacking off to its graphics, maybe you'll realize that.

totally agree.

Anonymous wrote: I'll never

Anonymous wrote:

I'll never understand why people get so defensive over their beloved games. It's just one's opinion. Whether someone likes it or not has no direct affect on you and whether or not you'll enjoy it.

And by the way, I'm a HUGE first person shooter fan, and I completely agree that this game has no personality/character/quality. When you people stop jacking off to its graphics, maybe you'll realize that.

And ill never understand how people get so offensive on what the general consensus seem to believe is am all-in-all great game. They have just enough reason to disagree over this authors critique as you do for your disdain for this title.

Dont give me that "by the way im a huge first person shooter" shit as if it gives you the reassurance. Your ignorant rants, make you seem just as stupid as the "huge defenders" you speak against.

comments from sev

"kiss my @$$ you sophisticated POS"

Sincerely
Sev

The day we have shooters where the main character drinks a martini with a bamboo umbrella in it you can rejoice but for now stop these bs articles so you can get hits on your bs website.

Articles like this show

Articles like this show exactly what a massive hit this game is.
There is a war raging on about whether this game is the best game of all times or a bad theatrical play with mediocre actors.
The funny thing is that this war only uses the game as an excuse.
People just want to be heard and fight with other people over their opinions or their preferences just like soccer fans do. It's the new trend. Let's say something controversial and stir people up for the sake of argument. There is a new sport called videogaming. Sign up to your favorite corporation and lets start the tournament. First match: Sony vs Microsoft, PS3 vs XBOX360, who wins? Mine is the best of course and everybody else just wasted their money on the other console.

So pathetic!

Unforeseen Idiocy

I'm going to get this out right now, I love everything about Killzone 2. I disagree with all of you, to pit it against GoW2 is really just....wow. You all obviously didn't play Killzone or Liberation, that is RICO! In Killzone his character is introduced with him yelling "DIE MOTHERF***ERS!" as he launched a missle and used the hip placed machine gun to tear down the Helghast in a peacful park stuck on Vekta.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't anything like Half Life but to compare to a game that deals with completely different enemies and completely different story points to either you didn't take it seriously or you're such a fan of another First Person Shooter that KZ2 pisses you off.

Killzone 2 shouldn't be looked at as a book, but it shouldn't be seen as an interactive movie either. Attempting to classify video games as to having "quality", "character" or "personality" through normal leaps and bounds is much harder. Guerilla wasn't looking for an epic storyline that would make you cry when one of the character's died(admittedly I connect myself to the character much more than normal people). Videogames must be seen from a perspective of what the intention was.

Killzone's intention since the first one, was to place you as a the Average Joe soldier, in a realistic war zone where every step can be your last. But it also attempted to show what overpowering force of vengeance and feeling of mistreatment can drive an entire group of people into the abyss of fascism. Many gamers who say KZ2 lacks "personality" or whatever, just place simple stereotypes willy nilly because they're used to it, so in a way, its not their fault. HOWEVER, if you attempt to look deeper, you can attempt to imagine an entire lifespan for each of those characters...what led up to those choices, and make the story interesting for yourself....You say it's stale but that's because it doesn't conform to what you want it to.

Which is why I ignore the constant complaints that the soldiers curse to much and that the story is bland. Maybe it could, and this is a radical idea I know, too much realism for ya. Because that is war, cursing, hate, blood, destruction, taking the SAME MONOTONOUS objective OVER and OVER again every day! They aren't MIT graduates, they are common men stuck in an invasion that as we know, goes completely wrong. Wouldn't you be cursing too, or would you be the silent one with shell shock, or the loud mouth boasting about how many guys you killed. Maybe in the 40's cursing wasn't as profusely spoken but now and days it is, just look at the media and you'll hear at least a few curses, or an average day conversation. Maybe you just don't like the level of realism Guerrilla programmed into the game.

Good this man an award!

Good this man an award! That's the best most thoroughly explained response I've read yet.

Enjoyed Killzone 2 too

agreed I too enjoyed the story and mulitiplayer but its just that all the charecters swear like thier 10 year olds playing xbox live during the story which is sorta realistic considering its a warzone. But the charecters lack personality due to this.
Im not saying killzone 2 is a bad game in fact its 1 of my fav ps3 games Im just saying that it could of been a lot more... better and fulled with personality and more options. oh and the guy who did this review actually did a good job

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