Killzone 2 was the best-looking game of the show ... when it was standing still. These developers know how to create stark and gritty environments without sacrificing color or their unique style. There's a lot of gray in these concrete buildings and bright skies under siege, but touches of color in the falling sunlight and the red eyes of the enemies keep the experience from shifting into the monochromatic. There's only awe for the soft shadows, drifting clouds of smoke, globs of fire, and high-poly soldiers of doom.
Then it moves, and you can't see shit. Motion blur is liberally applied when the main character so much as coughs. The slightest movement, especially when zoomed in, results in a haze of vague shapes that you have to carefully direct your aim towards to keep from being smacked back to a loading screen. It's like being permanently stuck on the mushroom power-up from Rise of the Triad, or just being on real mushrooms. There's also something a bit off about the hit animations and explosions. Enemies dive away from grenades a good yard away from the blast point, flailing like underpaid stuntmen. Shots reactions aren't much better.
The gunplay is a bit mixed. I got used to the bobbing view in the original Killzone, but the first-person cover system is currently too awkward to be more useful than a simple crouch. Weapons are generally good, but being able to carry only one major armament is far too restricting when you're fighting foot soldiers and roaming tanks at the same time. I'm also baffled by the decision to trade the "sweep and clear" style of enemy placement from the original with the infinitely spawning "monster closet" with vague objectives that ruin any chance of solid pacing.
There are massive plans for multiplayer: big thirty-two-team battles with a half-dozen playable classes whose primary and secondary abilities can be mixed and matched to form your own custom classes. Every act online earns you experience to gain rank and the rewards to make you a tougher fighter, while special acts result in special badges with similar perks. Team-play is strongly encouraged, allowing you to form four person squads with the typical personal voice channels and leader spawning. There's also full clan support, including the ability to set up challenges and even tournaments with other clans for prestige points. Killzone.com will track over a hundred unique stats, spread across your personal achievements and the efforts of your clan, as well as hosting challenges, personal messages, and other options to support the KZ community.
Some of this might sound a little familiar, especially if you've been on the Battlefield or the Frontlines. What Killzone 2 will offer a little above the Call of Duty are dynamic field objectives, so that a mission that might start out as capture the flag could easily switch in to assassination or death match the moment that objective is achieved (or prevented). Overall points from all of these missions are tallied to determine the winning team, resulting a fluid field of operation, where players need to be ready for the unexpected. Unwanted mission types can easily be avoided, as well as unfavorable maps among the eight included, by customizing matches to your liking. This includes restricting classes, weapon types, and other options. The lack of split screen, a feature of the first, is rather disappointing.
I'm sure Guerilla Games will fix the blur before release, along with a number of other issues. Yet from what I've seen and played so far Killzone 2 will be a reverse of the original, where its core strength will be in its ambitious team multiplayer, with the single-player being a practice ground for would-be heroes.
Or perhaps just a place to admire the scenery.