Ever since our first glimpse of Killzone 2 at E3 2005 we’ve been desperately hoping that the visuals in the final game match up to the target video. Well, we’ve already confirmed that this is indeed the case, but as everyone reading TheSixthAxis should know, graphics don’t make a game, and only the highest scoring titles here pay special attention to the other facets of videogame production, including spectacular gameplay and awe-inspiring music. So how does Killzone 2 stand up aurally?
Well, let’s just say that you won’t be disappointed. The game’s composer, Joris de Man, should be familiar to anyone how read the credits in Killzone and Liberation, and he’s back in fine form here with a fully orchestrated score comprising a new dynamic music system developed by Sony just for this game, and almost 30 minutes of brilliant, emotive tracks recorded at London’s Abbey Road studios. Whilst the in-game music is digitally triggered via MIDI to respond to the player’s actions in real time, the half hour of cutscenes required live music and de Man managed to get through everything required in just two day’s studio time.
Whilst Sony are obviously investing heavily in Killzone 2, things like the musical score still tend to be a last minute addition, normally because the game itself is only just complete. Thankfully the music direction is still at the forefront, and de Man has been present throughout the latter stages of development advising Guerilla when and where to tweak the in-game audio. Whilst many of the joys of Killzone 2 should be left to the player to discover, the adaptive music system debuting here is worth mentioning: intensity and drive is determined by not only the level and the area, but also the enemy AI and how many enemies are closing in on your marine, reacting and changing constantly.
Killzone 2 can utilise up to four distinct aural effects on each and every sound in the game, all processed in amazing 7.1 surround sound. Reverb levels adapt to the location and distance from the player, envelopes wrap spot effects based on the surroundings and decays and echoes add a final layer of unrivalled realtime engineering. And in response to criticism to the developers of the first game, Killzone 2 has over 17,000 lines of dialogue, so repetition and even familiar voices will be at an absolute minimum.
Naturally most reviews and play-tests will focus on the visuals, but hopefully after reading this brief synopsis you’ll be rushing down to the retailers to sort out a decent digital sound setup. If you’d like to read more about the audio in Killzone 2, be sure to pick up issue 198 of Edge Magazine, available now.