Monday, April 11, 2011

Killzone 2

So I'm going to preface this by saying that I found this game to be kind of "meh". I've actually been playing it off and on for quite some time. With much more off than on. But, because I own it and because by playing I felt like I could justify my purchase, I did manage to complete it and play a fair amount of multiplayer to boot.

But I kind of wish I hadn't bothered. A common criticism of video games is that they are a waste of time, that anything is more constructive than playing them. On the whole, I disagree. But, in Killzone 2's case, I find myself switching sides.

Game vs Experience

Before I get into lambasting Killzone 2, I want to present my argument for video games being, in general, a perfectly valid way to spend one's free time. With video games, people tend to have this odd perception that they somehow taint or take over the lives of those who play them. "They'll turn your brain to mush!" "You should go out and play outside; do something healthy and constructive!" In my view, these arguments apply only to the extreme periphery of those who play video games. You've heard the stories; kids have played in their basements to the detriment of their lives and those around them. I would point out that this is exceedingly rare, and I have literally met nobody who fits this image.

In addition, I've always been of the perception that, in terms of intellectual stimulation, television shows and movies are arguably worse than video games. All three media formats tell stories; the difference is that, with video games, you are actually interacting with the story, thinking about the actions that you make, and the consequences that result. The gameplay creates a challenge that you must think about to overcome. By contrast, with movies you are a passive participant watching it without interaction. That does not mean that movies can't make you think; I would just make the bet that more parts of your brain are engaged whilst playing an interactive video games.

And the stories in video games can be epic tales that are as equally engaging if not more so than movies or television shows. After all, in video games, you are the main character. The actions that you take and see your character can often help to magnify the experience, even if the main character's personality/choices are completely different from your own.

The Failure of Killzone 2

Now, what I've just described is why I will always have a soft spot for video games. The experiences and stories that you can encounter and see can be just as memorable as the greatest movie.

However, Killzone 2 fails in this regard. Symptomatic of many popular "shooter" games of this era, Killzone 2 is all about taking a variety of guns and repetitively blowing your way through hundreds of ugly, masked guys in the middle of a war zone. The gameplay is essentially whack-a-mole; you see the enemy hiding behind cover, you pinpoint their location with the aiming reticule, and then shoot til dead. Now this might be okay if the story were good and the characters memorable, but sadly this is not the case.

The sad case is that all Killzone 2 is about is invading the planet of some Nazi stand-ins who did bad things in the first Killzone. You and a bunch of other angry, steroid-infused military stereotypes spend the entire game fighting from city to city in order to capture the enemy leader. That's pretty much it.

To be fair, the villain is memorable, voiced by Brian Cox, and downright scary with the epic scope of propaganda he spouts. He is Hitler, Stalin, and Goebbels rolled all up into one. However, he is utterly wasted as he is only seen at the beginning and end of the game. Totally not worth the sheer amount of whack-a-mole that must be engaged in in order to see him.


And, perhaps most tragically, this game is rated as one of the best games for the Playstation 3. Like the nauseatingly similar Call of Duty and Medal of Honor games, Killzone 2 is a bland, boring diversion set in one war zone after another that would be gorgeous and epic to look at if it weren't for the fact that everything is black, brown, and grey. It is video games like these that support the cultural stereotype that video games turn your brain to mush. And games like Killzone 2 are the ones that sell the most out of any other and better game out there.

Until that changes, I think the road to video games being actually appreciated by society will be long and difficult.

No comments:

Post a Comment