But when we arrived, we found that their forces were far from blown apart. Helghan soldiers are everywhere. Their glowing red eyes emerge from the gloom of their disfigured cities. They peep through the scrim of dust that blows across their deserts. "Red eyes!" someone from my squad yells. And we all turn and fire on the crimson targets.
The Helghast are decent fighters. They adjust their position to flank me as I move. They yell "Shit!" when I throw a grenade into their midst. But I'm learning how they think. If I keep my scope trained on a spot where I just saw a Helghast's eyes, they will reliably pop up again. And if I kill one Helghast, another takes its place. It's not that they're unintelligent. They're just predictably intelligent.
The Helghast are particularly gruesome at dying. They spew gobbets of flesh as they shudder to the rhythm of my machine gun. They howl like deep-voiced dogs as the light fades from their eyes. Perhaps they take their sense of melodrama from their leader, whose voice comes from the perennial overactor Brian Cox.
My fellow soldiers are not so histrionic. Several of my closest comrades have proven themselves to be almost bulletproof, despite their habit of running through my line of fire. And if one of them falls, I can revive him. For some reason, though, they can't revive me. If I die, it's "game over," or at least "game restarts from the last secure checkpoint."
But I will not surrender or abandon hope. I don't know why I fight, but I am resolute. My resolve comes from righteousness. They attacked us first. They threaten the peace of the universe. They have glowing red eyes. They are obviously evil, and they must be destroyed.
THE GOOD: Helghan is a beautifully built world. Missions range from rabbit warrens of ruined rooms to arenas in the midst of battle. Standoffs alternate seamlessly with head-on assaults. Enemies appear from left and right, up and down. They are silhouetted against the sky and clustered in the darkness. Every entrenched position has back doors, and the Helghast can find them and use them as much as I do.
THE BAD: Despite the variety of missions I've undertaken since I arrived on Helghan, the campaign doesn't seem to form a dramatic arc. Each level feels like the last, and each firefight feels like the first. Instead of adapting to combat on a new world, I find that I stick with my reliable, standard-issue rifle. There's no reason to evolve my fighting when the fighting itself doesn't evolve.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Killzone 2 is a technical triumph, but it replaces dynamic combat with a sense of soldiering-on that's as uninspired as the game's title.
Rated Mature; PlayStation 3