Killzone 2: Multiplayer Failings

Killzone 2 is no doubt selling well.  For a PS3 exclusive title, one that must have cost an absolute fortune to produce and promote, one that’s been hyped beyond anything we’ve ever seen before and one that PS3 owners were shouting about for years, that’s exactly what we’d expect.  But the hardcore grasp of the multiplayer has set in: if you weren’t playing Killzone 2 from the start and want to enjoy the online mode to its fullest, it might well already be out of your reach.  But Killzone 2 is a two-part game, and whilst we’ll get to the single player postmortem next week, this week is all about multiplayer.

I’ve been speaking to our very own Chris [CC_Star] about this recently – how we feel about Killzone 2’s online modes, and whether for us the experience has died down somewhat.  On a personal note, due to other distractions and commitments I’ve not even had the disk in the slot since the TSA Clan was formed; and whilst the Clan is still going strong we’ve now handed control over to one of our regular visitors simply because nobody here at TheSixthAxis really has the time or inclination to invest in that side of the game any more.

“I’ve been nothing but disappointed with it from the start,” says Chris. “I was  lucky enough to pick the game up a week before the release date, and obviously the multiplayer servers weren’t live then so it was single player only for the first few days.”  Most PS3 fans got a great deal out of the main storyline, but not Chris.  ” I got bored by even the end of the first mission,” he said.  “The whole grittiness of grinding your way through each level, and fighting for every single yard may be great for realism but made for quite a dull gaming  experience, the only reason I kept the game and didn’t stick it on eBay was the promise of the multiplayer game.”

The trouble with class-based multiplayer games like Killzone 2, Call of Duty 4 et al is that if you don’t keep playing, no amount of inherent skill will keep you up there with those that are happy stat grinding – once they’ve got the best perks and the biggest guns, even the most able of gamers won’t be able to compete.  Ultimately, then, a month or two down the line, the only people that are playing are the top level Generals.  “I think the multiplayer game is about as good as it gets when you are starting at the beginning as a Private, if you are playing against
players of the same rank, the only downside is the lack of weapons. To get more weapons you have to rank up, and this I believe is a flaw, The early playthoughs become a stat-fest, where figures are more important than having fun.”

This isn’t subjective, this is the facts. The early bot-filled matches are clear evidence of this: people running around for hours taking out low-class AI soldiers just to boost their rankings and thus achieve the upper classes in the game.  “Once you start ranking up and gaining abilities and weapons the game reveals a bit more of itself to you, but I found even when you selected the options to only play against people of the same rank, there were players of practically all ranks, I remember just gaining the medic ability, and all of a sudden I was being shot by saboteurs, the matchmaking system was broken.”

The saboteur is, in this writers opinion, a ridiculous idea, and one that should have remained on the cutting room floor.  This is the class that can pretend to be someone on the opposing team and sneak around undetected killing at leisure.  Get one in your own spawn area and it can be a nightmare.  “Yeah,” agrees Chris, “and everyone spawns on top of each other, rather than spawning anywhere in a given area: pretty much everyone spawns in a room, this makes it very easy for your whole side to get pinned in, or for your team to pin in the opposing team, making it impossible to get on with the game.”

And if both teams aren’t doing this,everyone just races to a map’s choke point.  “Everytime you play it just appears to follow the same pattern, there is so little variety to the game, that I can’t even be arsed to change the disks over to put it in.”  So what does it need?  “Some new larger maps possibly with a variety of vehicles and not just a jeep, or even that crappy handling tank that appears to be tacked on to the SP campaign.”  We get the idea of the classes, but the whole system is flawed for anyone but the most determined and is actually quite off-putting to casual online gamers like myself.  If you’re only going to buy one game this year and you’ve got the time to dedicate to it, issues aside, Killzone 2 might be right up your street but for everyone else it could well be just a fleeting visit.

Next week: how does the single player hold up?