Killzone is one of Sony’s biggest franchises and this gen Killzone 2 & 3 have both been received well critically and commercially. Guerrilla Games, the developers behind the franchise, have now given the original Killzone an HD makeover. There’s a decent game here but there are reminders that this is very much a title from the PS2 era.
As this is an HD makeover the graphics should be a main highlight but they are a bit hit and miss. The guns and character models do have the HD look about them, but a lot of the environments don’t look much improved, if at all. This isn’t helped by the fact that many of the stages have either a brown or green colour palette, making the game look a bit washed out.
In an age where games, including the later Killzone titles, have a variety of visual tones, Killzone HD seems a bit stale. Graphical fade-in also regularly occurs, where items will gradually come into existence. There are a couple of exceptions, like the mountain stages. Those snowy environments look brilliant in HD and it’s a highlight when it comes to level design.
However, much of the level design is uninspiring. There are stages where one area looks almost exactly like another with only a slight difference, like a door being closed or the inclusion of more enemies. This repetition of design serves as a bit of an immersion breaker and as a reminder of how far game design has come since the release of the original Killzone eight years ago.[drop2]There are also a couple of problems in both the sound and gameplay departments. In some instances enemy calls seem much closer than they are. At the opposite end of the spectrum, sound will occasionally just cut out. This is most noticeable when you face someone and they speak but when you pan the camera away from them then sometimes the speech will just cut out mid sentence. There’s also the rare occurrence of lag when moving. It only lasts a split second but when it happens it’s noticeable. Fortunately, when it comes to the action there’s plenty of fun to be had.
During the game, players can control one of four characters, selected at the beginning of most stages. There’s Jan Templar, an ISA soldier, Luger, an assassin, Hakha the spy and Rico Velasquez, the heavy weapons specialist. Each of the characters have different roles in the story but they all play similarly, though Rico does have extra power available with his chain gun.
The lack of distinction between characters doesn’t really have much impact on the gameplay itself. Killzone HD is a military shooter, even with its sci fi elements. The Helghast AI is brilliant for the majority of the game. They’ll run into cover, try to flank you and generally provide an opposition that isn’t too forgiving of player mistakes. But, there were a couple of times when the enemy AI acted a bit silly, like taking cover next to an item in a position where they were fully visible.
Ally AI sometimes fails to react as well, especially during gunfights. At one point a machine gun nest had me pinned down. I was hoping that my AI companions would give me some support. Instead they ran into the gunner’s line of fire, aimed down their sights, and just soaked up bullets without firing back. In the end it helped that the AI partners are invincible, so while they took bullets I ran to the nest and killed the gunner.
- Game is fun to play.
- HD upgrades of character models are well done.
- The enemy AI is smart.
- The mountain level is a highlight.
- Good for fans of the Killzone series.
- Some environments look bland.
- Problems with sound.
- Ally AI doesn’t always respond.
- Occasional textures that look last gen.
Though there are issues with Killzone HD, it should be remembered that this is an HD port of a last gen title, not a complete remake, so some bugs should be expected. For fans of the Killzone franchise, or FPS fans on a tight budget, this is well worth playing. It’s a solid enough challenge and a respectable length so it certainly accounts well for its cost of £11.99/$14.99. It’s just a shame that the game didn’t receive a more comprehensive update than the patchy coat of paint it seems to have been given.