Monday, October 19, 2009

[TIME NOTE] The Issue With Killzone 2

Yet another "Time Note." This time, I take a look a recent document I had, back on June 28 of this year. This gave me plenty of time to hate Killzone 2's controls. However, my issue doesn't lay simply in the controls, but more of the game itself. Read down to read exactly why the controls have major issues, and many other reasons why KZ2 is keeping itself from having me enjoy it. Anything written in the article in red, italicized font is my current input on my previous thoughts

Killzone 2 has gotten an incredible amount of flak for its controls. This is not the only thing that plagues this game, however. Everywhere I look, people are hating on the controls and “lag”. Type “Killzone 2” and “hate” "controls" into Google and see what comes up. I haven’t seen this much distastefulness for a game in a long time.

Firstly, before I get any further, let me introduce myself. Friends call me “Nintendo Tim” because they say I know all there is to know about video games. Others say just Nintendo, hence the name. I do like to claim myself as someone who knows a lot about gaming, but I know I don’t know “everything.” Nobody does, nor will they ever. I am someone who has played video games extensively over many years. I’ve played my fair share of games, so don’t label me as some shmuck that merely thinks he knows what he’s talking about. I don’t speak with random symbols in 1337-speak (although I’m familiar with that abominably fucked up way of conversating with other idiots who choose to limit their dialogue to ampersands and exclamation marks), nor do I say “were u @??” when I’m texting or posting a message on facebook. Let’s get to the grit:

The one thing that keeps popping up on message boards is how terrible the controls are. These people don’t’ make it past the first level and give up almost instantly. Your used copy of the game you found at GameStop the day after release probably belonged to them. I tried so very hard to tweak the controls to accommodate my ideal controls for an FPS. I bought the first one to familiarize myself with the Helghast and the game’s lore. I got to the second level and gave up. Why? The game itself is plagued with so many bugs that the Orkin man would bend over and grab his ankles. I’m going to get the controls out of the way first and foremost simply because I hate them.

I’m not hating on the controls just to hate (keep this phrase in mind as you read). One issue is people complaining of a so-called “lag.” There is no lag, but the guns themselves are very weighted. A little too weighted, to be honest. Couple this with the terribly implemented cover system and horribly mapped controls, and you have the ill-fated trifecta from the twelfth level of Hell – that’s right: this game skipped creating levels ten and eleven and went straight to 12. I thought developers learned with Gears of War that the cover system should be adhering to the toggle rule, not the “hold the goddamned button the entire time.” The Tom Clancy brand, especially the Rainbow Six branch, learned this incredibly quick.

One thing that covers all three criteria is looking down the iron sights/scope while behind cover to fire. This requires you to hold L2 to get - and stay - behind cover, hold L1 to zoom (already my mind is a clusterfuck) and then press R1 to fire. You can toggle whether or not you need to hold L1 to zoom, but when this entire generation of FPSs has trained you to hold the zoom button (which has been LT on Xbox or L2 on PS3 for the majority of games), it’s hard to change how you play for a single game. Killzone 2 tries to be Halo, Call of Duty and Rainbow Six: Vegas all at the same time, and there is absolutely no fucking way you can do that.

I cannot recall any game that requires you to hold an entire shoulder’s worth of buttons to shoot. What makes holding L1 and L2 at the same time feel so uncomfortable is the actual controller itself. I have no idea why Sony thinks the controller design made for the PSOne in 1996 will continue to work on the PS3 in 2009. It’s old, it’s outdated, and frankly, it’s fucking ugly. The PSOne controller was designed around the SNES controller. Compare the two, and then get back to me. And why, for fuck’s sake, are the L2/R2 buttons convex? Just because Microsoft made all Xbox controller triggers (the Duke, S and 360) like a gun trigger, as well as Nintendo going all the way back to the N64, doesn’t mean you have to be the emo kid and do things differently. I long for the day that I was as skilled as Ben Heck and could wire up a breadboard to cram a PS3 controller innards into a 360 controller shell. I would be loving life, because the fact of the matter is, I find my fingers slipping off L2 and R2 whenever I have to hold them down for a significant period of time, and that irritates the piss out of me.

I tried so incredibly hard to enjoy Killzone 2, it’s not even funny. I gave up, played Wolverine for a bit, and came back. I made it halfway through a level, and gave up again. I bought inFamous, beat it, got the Platinum trophy, then came back to Killzone 2. I finished that level I gave up on, and got maybe 5 minutes into another level. I simply cannot enjoy this game no matter what I do.

For some reason unbeknownst to man, every Sony fanboy (or anti-Microsoft gamer) will light up the torches, take up arms and defend Killzone 2 for what it’s worth (what it is worth, I’m not sure), and it all goes back to Killzone 1. When Killzone was announced…you know what, fuck this. It’s now KZ, ok? I’m not typing out that word over and over again, and I’m not doing copy/paste whenever I want to say that name. When KZ was announced, it was automatically deemed a “Halo-killer,” simply because it was on Sony's system, it was an FPS, and it was in development alongside Halo 2, and ended up being released one week before it. Now, this is before the wrath that was Halo 2. Sure, it came out, what, one week before Halo 2, so ears were perking up in the Sony camp (anything released/announced after Halo 2 and dubbed “Halo–killer” were instantly shot down, and cries of “bullshit” were heard from around the world) and the hype train was going Mach 4. The only people thing that could stop this was the game itself. And it stopped it so hard, you couldn’t tell what the wreckage was beforehand. KZ was before its time (or Guerrilla Game chose the wrong system) in terms of what it was doing. Lag, glitches, bugs…the game was so horribly infested with problems, but not because of poor programming. It stemmed from what GG wanted the game to do, but the PS2 couldn’t handle it. If KZ was released on the Xbox, I believe it would have performed better. And I’ll get back to the whole “KZ on Xbox” debacle later. KZ performed in a mediocre way with critics, but it ended up selling…”ok.”

Fast forwards to E3 05, and Sony shows off KZ2’s infamous teaser trailer. At first, Jack Tretton says that the KZ2 trailer, and I quote “is real gameplay everybody's seeing out there.” Just days later, Phil Harrison retracts Jack’s statement and says the footage was “running off video”…“done to PS3 spec.” The trailer ended up living up to it’s expectations. Sony fans had a reason to live beyond Metal Gear Solid 4.

This KZ2 trailer had Sony fanboys and Xbox haters so riled up, that they indefinitely believed KZ2 was the redeeming glory their betrothed $600 purchase three and a half years ago needed. Microsoft has Master Chief and Marcus Fenix, Nintendo has Mario, Link and Samus, and Sony has Kratos. Sony doesn’t have games or mascots on the same level as Microsoft or, god forbid, Nintendo that they can truly call their own. Sure, they have their Ratchets, their Jaks, and they have SOCOM, but does anyone really consider them on the same level as the other games? When was the last time you heard someone say something about Halo and SOCOM in some form on comparison to one another?

No, seriously…think. I’ll wait.

Couldn’t think of anything? That’s what I thought.

And for that one guy that is going to bring up Final Fantasy…just don’t. Save me the lame bullshit and don’t. I’m tired of that card being played, just like you are of the Halo one. Truth be told, Final Fantasy is not a Sony property. Hell, if it weren’t for Nintendo, nobody would have their Final Fantasy. The numerical games since 7 have remained on Sony consoles, with the exception of XI and XIII. But enough of the exclusivity talk; I digress from the point…

A huge point that I firmly believe Guerrilla Games completely missed was the weapon management. They [GG] designed their single player off of the multiplayer in the sense of the “classes.” The classes in multiplayer have made it so the character you play as (sorry, I stopped giving a shit about the story to remember my own guy’s name) has to become a master of the single weapon in his inventory, or give it up for another. This “one specific weapon” concept was brought into the single player campaign, and horribly. Did the future bar armed forces from shoulder straps on weapons? I have NEVER seen any game doing the same thing as Killzone – that is military based FPS – limit you to carry just a primary weapon and your sidearm. They always have some form on secondary weapon strapped to their back, but apparently, this soldier taking on an entire planet’s worth of an alien race is limited to a handgun and whatever primary they can find. You’d think they’d do a little improv and find some means of a shoulder strap and get things rolling a bit better.

Gears of War had it’s weapon management system perfect, and Halo has it’s own flavor by having any two weapons in your inventory (as long as it wasn’t the same) and you could dual wield the majority of the smaller weapons. Did you master every weapon in Halo? Moreover, was it possible to beat the game with a single weapon? What about Gears of War? How about your betrothed SOCOM? I expect to hear a bombardment of “No”s here rather soon from roughly 90% of those reading. I am in no way saying "Killzone 2's weapon system should be more like Halo, or Gears." What I am saying is in these games, you familiarize yourself with the game's weapon variety by having a mixture of weapons at a time. Once you've found your footing, you're good to go. You normally have a power/short-to-mid range weapon, as well as your long-range weapon, with your sidearm, which is a handgun 101% of the time.

One quick thing I did want to touch base on before I forgot was the “squad based combat” or the really shitty implementation. What’s with this “We stay here and sit with our thumbs up our asses while you go brave the 5,000 aliens ready to tear your heart out through your dick hole” bullshit that developers think is fun. Can I please for the love of all that is holy chill the fuck out for a hot minute while you two assholes go do some work? I know it’s not just KZ2, but I hope it ends pretty fucking soon.

Ooo, I almost forgot about the whole “KZ on Xbox” debacle. There is this sect of gamers that say if KZ was on the PS2, or a multi-platform release, that the Xbox version would score higher, simply because it’s the Xbox. That wouldn’t necessarily happen, because they would soon realize how much more powerful the Xbox is than the PS2, scrap PS2 development and release it solely on the Xbox. Now, put your spear down for two minutes: IF they went multi-platform, I do believe the Xbox version would score higher because they would tailor it’s version of the game to the Xbox so it could perform better. Simply put, the Xbox would be able to better handle what GG’s vision was for KZ. Now the sequel – another IF – if there was an Xbox version of KZ – be it exclusive or not – there would have been a 360 version of KZ2 if Sony hadn’t bought GG. That’s a lot of “if”s, I know. But the aforementioned sect is nothing but “if”s.

Listen, games getting shit for not doing something you wanted them to do right will never end. As long as Microsoft thinks Halo is the definitive FPS (which gamers like you have proven it is), there will be haters. As long as Nintendo keeps churning our Mario sequels and spinoffs like it’s pot-laced brownies in Amsterdam, there will be haters. As long as Sony thinks their shit doesn’t stink and you should pay $200 to eat it, there will be haters. It will never end.

Repeat after me: IT WILL NEVER END.

Time Note is an editorial piece where I dig into my Documents folder and find gems that I've written in the past. They may not reflect my current ideals, but they do to a certain aspect where I feel I must share it with my readers. If I do feel as if something has changed, I make aforementioned amendments to my writing.