Noodle News!
Here I am again, wasting time till you guys get round to probing me for answers. Not that I want to be caught with my pants down or anything, it's just that life is pretty boring without something unexpected being asked of me. I spent the last of my game money this week on a pretty controversial title. Not that it's violent or anything, it's just that no one can agree if it is truly the second coming for the PS2 or complete town halls (balls).

Yea, and unto the masses a labour of four years was delivered from the hearts of talented coders within the Netherlands. And thou spake, there shall be incredible graphics contained within a drab colour palette. An AI that shall surprise thou as thou reloads. There shall be a multitude of promises, none made by the architects of this work, only the press shall know what are their own lies. Thus shall David topple Goliath from his mighty box that towers above the clouds themselves. And so on and so on. You know the hype. Unless, of course, you've lost all your fingers and have become withdrawn from the gaming world only to gain your internet fix by bashing your head off the keyboard in hope that you hit the correct keys with your nose and attempt to maneuver the mouse with your tongue in which case, I salute you Largo-san. Imagine what you could do with massage lessons or something.... Gives me goose-bumps

I digress. I'm sure that you've figured out by now that I've bought Killzone. According to internet it's a Halo killer that's nowhere near as good as Halo 2 which in turn fails to surpass the original installment of itself. This proves more then anything that the net is the perfect incarnation of the 'million monkeys at typewriters' saying which conveniently fails to mention that if you want to reach Shakespeare, you have to wade through an Infinite sea of rubbish. Thats Infinite matey, capital 'I'. I really want to stress that this is gonna be an opinion. Not much of this is fact ok? I'm not gonna make comparisons to the Halo games because 15 minutes at the Game On exhibition doesn't count as properly playing it although I do admit I did enjoy the LAN games. I Won't weigh up a pair of games that I haven't played 'cause I know that some of you guys out there know a lot more about the Xbox's games then I do. I'm talking about this game in terms of what I think and what I've played, you think I'm wrong? Then I admit that I'm wrong. Now get out of my head.

Killzone probably pushes the hardware further then any other game. It achieves a look that is unmatched anywhere in on the PS2. Where the west aims for the realism aspect such as Medal of honor and the East creates beautiful worlds full of imagination a la Final Fantasy, Killzone wants to put the player right there, in the middle of the maelstrom. What Killzone is best at is putting you right there against impossible odds. Jump over a wall and you look down, place your hand on the concrete and swing your legs over. Shoot out of control and your gun jumps out of control. Pistol whip and you beat the helgast to death. Reload, but make damn sure there's a wall between you and the enemy before starting. Killzone dances to a different tune compared to medal of honor. Instead of waltzing through a level shooting Nazis as they pop up you stalk through levels engaging Not-Quite-Nazis using cover and timing reloads between bursts of fire. The helgast didn't ignore their training, they both aim and shoot. This distinct lack of stormtrooper syndrome is annoying at first, with you leading your team straight into an enemy gun turret confident that there wont be any damage and instead becoming ventilated faster then your life bar would normally allow. Here you must learn to think. Being fast on the trigger helps a lot but knowing when to pop out and shoot, give covering fire and more importantly, reload lends a ton of weight to a player's success. Very short and controlled bursts are essential in keeping the helgast at bay. Specialty weapons such as the sniper rifle and shotgun are rare and learning to use each one to the full potential is almost as important as shooting in the first place. How to control the reload sounds strange as normally the gun would just disappear and then reappear ready for you to pull the trigger. Not so here. During the reload your character's view shifts it's focus onto the weapon at hand. Do you change the view so that the gun and enemy are in sight at the same time or do you concentrate on movement? The animations are so sexy that you don't mind if they get you killed at first but eventually, they can begin to tire. It makes sense that that the bigger guns take longer to reload, it's a balancing thing, but unloading the old clip, inserting the new one and cocking the rifle can be an annoying process when all you want to do is kick ass. In desperate cases changing your weapon instead of reloading you current one can be life saving. Another part of strategy as you are limited to carrying only three pieces of equipment at once. Choosing between the light machine gun and the pistol grenade launcher is such a dilemma.

The story is clearly only the opening chapter in a series. The entire game is just the first skirmish between two superpowers that span the galaxy. It's the tale of four elite solders behind enemy lines. You can play as the generic guy, the walking tank, the stealth character and 'other one', a helgast traitor. This doesn't sound very original and it isn't. But there's so much sheen and polish put into the story that it's actually quite likable. Although the it's not gonna make Kojima/Speilberg lose any sleep over it the presentation is high quality. The pre rendered cut scenes are a glossed over version of the game engine much like Mafia. If it was a painting the layer of gloss would extend a full meter from the canvas. The use of facial expressions and especially the work from the voice actors is superb. You can watch it like a film. Think of it as a medicore script delivered by excellent actors. The even with this polish the actual graphics aren't far away from the cut scenes. The textures on the environment are fantastic. I don't think I've found two walls that look the same yet. There may be cracks or crumbling plaster along one side of a corridor and even the floor in the outside areas give the impression that artillery has been pounding it for several days. The characters are some of the most human looking on the system right up there with GhostHunter, Metal Gear Solid and the Getaway. And any EA sports game, I'd swear the only reason they've released FIFA alongside Pro Evo these last six years because they can keep up with Beckham's haircut. Killzone uses a system where only the closer objects are loaded in high detail. Far away enemies that are only a handful of pixels are in fact only a handful of pixels. Sometimes the game can get confused with what you're close to. If you turn a corner quickly you can see a low res helgast that the game desperately makes more real before your eyes, hoping you don't catch on. It happens in incidents where your team splits up. When you are reunited your allies sometimes look like they've been in an industrial accident for a few seconds until the high res model is loaded. This doesn't happen often and it's nothing that GTA hasn't been doing for the last four years but in a game where the graphics are a major selling point it can be a bit disconcerting. There's a few other little problems too such as the rag-doll physics used. It's not unusual for a grenade to stick a corpse to a wall despite there being nothing to stick to but concrete. There's also the glass corridor design that's been in almost every game with jungle warfare. In that setting killzone doesn't try anything new and apart from the destruction of a bridge nothing notable happens during these sections. I find these levels the least fun.

Online I didn't expect anything revolutionary to be delivered and I wasn't surprised. I wasn't disappointed either. What I wanted was a game with solid gameplay and a few different game modes that would have a realistic number of people online. Impressively Killzone manages to retain the same graphical powerhouse that it has in the campaign mode. It also translates it's own style of gameplay into the internet. Reloading and timing sprints between cover is still important alongside the fact that your against real people too. Once I got the idea that I'm not playing timesplitters into my head I got a lot better at fragging and staying alive. A coordinated bunch of players can show more teamwork then you'd expect in a normal game of SOCOM. I find myself instinctively watching the rear if at the back of a group or giving covering fire so that a friend can retreat with the supplies (flag). I've even heard other players saying 'fire in the hole' or 'incoming' when using grenades. Deathmatch is still the paranoid panic fest of course, only more so to me as I try and find the perfect cover that will protect me from all sides. Haven't found it yet. Unfortunately the same graphical problems are carried over with the high res/low res confusion and the dodgy physics. Alongside these there's a few problems that are unique to online. If you're killed in a single hit, be it grenade launcher or shotgun enema, half of the time you don't see what hit you. There you are, toddling along all happy and next thing you know you fall over dead. Just hearing the gunshot or explosion would be some comfort. My other major gripe is that you can't see what map is selected until you join the game and Killzone uses a system where is loads the arena before you get to the lobby. So if you like the assault game but hate playing on the beech then you have a minute wait before you know where your playing. There's 3MB of space sitting on my memory card waiting for the first patch so hopefully these will be fixed. The maps themselves are nicely varied ranging from rifle favored open space to claustrophobic. Each one is based on a single player area with changes ranging from a few tweaks (Core Shaft) to and an entire overhaul that's unrecognizable next to it's solo counterpart (delta creek/beachhead). With the exception of Beachhead, which is more one sided then Enowapi in anything but deathmatch games, the maps seem to be designed with balance in mind, giving each side an even share of the weapons and buildings.

Overall, I think it's an OK game. Certainly not omega game I didn't expect it to be. It's got a nice single player mode, impressive graphics, a different style of combat and a popular, if only above average, multiplayer. I might change my mind if the patch turns out to magic everything happy. I doubt it will though

On Star Ocean 3. Looks like 36 hours isn't enough time to get it properly going so far but I have discovered the inventing option. I spend on average half my money just seeing what I can cook up. My greatest success so far has been the mythril armour. Once it gets to the shops I can buy as many as I want for 20% of it's full price :D