I was going to write this week's blog entry about the general topic of "gameplay" and how it's defined (exciting, I know), but instead I've decided to shelve that idea in favor of something much more topical: namely, the new Killzone 2 demo, which I just had the unexpected pleasure of downloading and playing, thanks to some PSN trickery. Here are my initial thoughts.
Yes, the graphics are very good. In fact, these might be the best graphics I've seen in a game. (Before people start bringing up Crysis or whatever other graphics-heavy PC game they like to jerk off to, just bear in mind that I don't play PC games, so that's not what I'm talking about here.) The gritty atmosphere, the wind and dust, the explosions, the sunlight breaking through the hazy sky, all of it looks fantastic. The visuals aren't so much a giant leap above competitors like Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty 4 as they are a small step. But it's definitely a noticeable step.
The action is pretty crazy, and it really feels like there's a whole lot of stuff (read kablooie) going on. In the first section, for example, I could see everything from missiles flying in from every which way, to other soldiers running around in flames or lying on the ground, to things blowin' up real good. The conflict seems big and full of spectacle, and it was hard for me not to stop and get distracted by all the action going on around me.
In terms of overall feel, Killzone 2 has a nice sense of weight to it. The movement isn't as zippy as other first-person shooters, but I don't think that's a bad thing. There's a sense of inertia to the movement that makes things feel heavy and substantial, as though there's actual stuff inside all those polygonal surfaces. In a way, Killzone 2 feels like Gears of War meets Call of Duty with an extra layer of grittiness thrown in.
Since this is just a demo I can't really say anything about story because, well, there isn't any. But based on the combat chatter and general vibe, I'm expecting something about on par with Gears in terms of quality. That's just a guess, though.
I think Killzone 2 is in a bit of a weird spot in terms of mind share. There's a massive amount of hype surrounding this game among the hardcore audience, and it will inevitably feel overhyped to a lot of those people. On the other hand, a lot of mainstream gamers don't know anything about it, and it needs to be hyped up way more with these folks. Personally, I'm pretty excited to play the final version when it releases, but I'll also be very interested to see how it sells and what kind of effect it has on the struggling PS3.