Some are calling it the best E3 in five years – others insist it's the best of all time. But whatever hyperbole gets attached to last week's gaming conference, we can all agree on the focus: Xbox One v PS4.
Amid the chaos of the LA convention centre, Microsoft and Sony pitched their stands barely feet from each other, separated only by a sliver of carpet, a no-man's land of technological rivalry. The two companies then spent three days hurling PR at each other, deafening attendees with their arsenals of mega hype. It was confusing, it was enraging, it was console war – and the first casualty of console war is sense.
So, what did it all mean? Who won, who lost? What do these machines actually do? Here is a quick guide to the next-generation as it currently stands, complete with hardware, services and game announcements. Next stop: release dates and a shift of the skirmish to a hundred thousand shop shelves. This fight has only just begun.
UPDATES – 20 JUNE: The Second Screens section has been updated to clarify Remote Play; the Hardware section has been updated with a developer comment on system memory; the DRM section has been altered to reflect Microsoft's u-turn on game restrictions
Before you start, why not check out what the console makers want you to know about their machines? Xbox one is here; PS4 is right over there.
Well, black is certainly back, as AC/DC once sort of nearly put it (or Public Enemy, for that matter, but we're getting off the point now). For this generation we have two rather large slabs of dark plastic, one shaped like an early eighties video recorder, the other slightly slanted to give a hint of dynamism. They are monolithic, almost architectural, and they are designed to slide in under your living room TV and then command attention from everyone in the room.
Technically, they are hugely similar: eight-core processors (both reported to be running at a frequency of 1.6GHz), custom AMD graphics processors, Blu-ray drives. But there are some fundamental differences. The two GPUs employ AMD's latest Graphics Core Next architecture, which is divided into working blocks known as Compute Units. The PS4 version has 18 CUs generating 1.84 teraflops of processing power, while the Xbox one has only 12 CUs; which, in theory , gives Sony's machine a 50% advantage in terms of raw shader performance (for example, lighting and other graphics effects). It's never quite this simple because other design and technical elements of the SoC can affect performance, but it's certainly an indication that there is more graphics grunt there for PS4.
Sony's machine also uses 8GB of GDDR5 memory with a bandwidth of 176GB/sec as opposed to the Xbox One with its 8GB of DDR3 RAM. GDDR5 memory is optimised for high bandwidth, which is perfect for use in graphics calculations, but also has higher latency than DDR3 RAM, which would be a problem for a general purpose CPU. However, because the PS4 architecture places the GPU and CPU on the same die, the latency between the two may be minimalised. In short, the adoption of a graphics-friendly form of memory may work to PS4's advantage as a games-targeted machine – even though GDDR5 is more expensive to implement. There's a thorough summing up of the system design here.
It's also worth reading the detailed overview of the technologies at AnandTech, though. The exhaustive article points out that the Xbox One architecture is designed with a variety of considerations beyond gaming – especially implementation with other MS platforms – and this shows in the tech specs.
A developer's view
We asked an experienced games coder about the differences between Xbox One and PS4's approach to system memory. He has asked to remain anonymous, but this is what he wrote...
"Memory-wise there are really deep areas you can get into on how Sony has optimised certain paths to access the RAM. Microsoft will hopefully be doing similar stuff to that, I imagine – we're only disclosed on PS4 so I don't know for sure, they're not dumb though.
"Regarding the RAM type, however, GDDR5 equals 176gb/sec, DDR3 equals 68gb/sec – I don't know the exact numbers for the Xbox One RAM but it'll be around that. GDDR5 is slightly higher latency, which means the time between requesting a piece of data and getting it to the CPU/GPU to work with can be slightly longer than with DDR3. This latency can be hidden by well-written code on CPU and normally is hidden well by GPUs due to how their pipelines work (which is why GDDR is normally found on GPU's).
"Ultimately though, that 2.5x faster bandwidth number means that a larger amount of data can be taken from RAM, processed by the CPU (or more importantly on these new architectures, the Compute Units on the GPU) and spat back out to RAM to either process again or render. At the end of the day, everything in games comes down to: 'grab information'; 'transform that data somehow'; 'spit it back out' – so being faster at this is a very good thing.
"Microsoft is winning bandwidth back for the GPU through the 32MB ESRAM (102gb/sec I believe, and assuming you're using this RAM a lot, it means that the total Microsoft bandwidth is 168gb/sec); this will even things back out a bit but require a bit of extra management by developers and it is only 32MB which limits the amount of uses.
"This kind of architecture with faster RAM for the GPU to use for framebuffers (the block of data storing the image being rendererd out or nowadays temporary graphic buffers storing lighting/material information) is something developers are used to working with, but it's more complex than the approach needed on the PS4."
The Xbox One ships with the updated Kinect device, which now tracks six people at once and copes much better with smaller, darker rooms. Its 3D scanner can identify much subtler movements, and it can recognise voices and faces. Microsoft is also telling journalists that the device's IR camera will detect changes in blood flow beneath the skin, thereby working out your heart rate – if you're out of breath, scared or stressed, Xbox One will know. Oh and there's a 1,080p colour camera for video chatting. Meanwhile, the PlayStation Eye will come as a separate purchase, and works with the DualShock 4 controller to track the player's movement in 3D space. Sony isn't saying much else, apart from showing off a range of compatible mini-games at E3. Clearly, while Kinect is at the very epicentre of the Xbone experience, Eye is currently barely squinting.
With its new touchpad, the DualShock 4 is the most obviously changed of the two joypads, and Sony has also added a speaker for up-close, player-specific audio. Also important is the new Share button which will let PlayStation gamers record footage of their virtual feats with which to impress/spam their friends.
The Xbox One controller, which apparently went through over 200 prototype stages and features 40 improvements, is more subtle – it has improved triggers that boast greater analogue sensitivity as well as their own dedicated rumble packs. Meanwhile, the D-pad is now a cross shape (good for fighting games) and the sticks are more comfortable to grip. Oh and there's a headphone socket, too. Both controllers look and feel really nice, and while the DualShock has more gimmicks, the Xbox equivalent features smart ergonomics and great gaming comfort.
As we move into an era of distributed computing power, it's no wonder that the next-gen consoles want to capitalise on the power of the cloud. Microsoft has claimed that developers will be able to harness three times the power of a single Xbox One, thereby bringing extra oomph to physics and AI processing (although some developers wonder whether latency will ever allow such time-sensitive game elements to be offloaded in this way). We're also promised vast persistent online worlds that evolve as play continues.
Forza Motorsports is even offering a Drivatar, an AI bot that learns your skills and tactics then goes off and represents you in online bouts. There are doubts about the veracity of Microsoft's claims, though, with latency and bandwidth issues likely to make things difficult.
PlayStation 4 promises cloud computing too, but the technology provided by Gaikai will also allow immediate playable access to digital titles – so as soon as you select a demo or full game on the PlayStation Store, the first chunk will be accessible. In theory. It will also be possible for players to remotely gain control of a pal's game, perhaps to help them out of a difficult puzzle or boss fight. Microsoft promises a similar remote playing feature via Xbox One utilising its Skype service.
All the claims are intriguing, but we've yet to see any of it in practice. Furthermore, some worry about the longevity of cloud-supported titles: i.e. what happens to a game that relies on the cloud for computational support when that online infrastructure is withdrawn? Publishers can't support every game forever. Alongside restrictive DRM, the cloud is another indication that the game disc as self-contained functioning product is history.
Both the Xbox One and PS4 will offer 'second screen' interaction: the former though tablets and smartphones running SmartGlass, the latter through the Vita handheld console as well as smartphones and tablets. With both machines you'll be able to use your phone or tablet as a companion display in supporting games, perhaps showing map or inventory information, for example. But through Sony's Remote Play technology, PS4 owners will be able to access and play their games via their Vita and a local Wi-Fi connection – so if you're unable to use your main TV, you can grab your handheld and play DriveClub on its lovely little 5-inch display. And unlike with PS3, Remote Play is built into the PS4 infrastructure so all games (except those requiring extra peripherals like the PS Eye) will support it. Although Vita has not sold astonishingly well so far, this is an interesting USP, and maybe a PS4/Vita bundle pack would highlight the possibilities of these intertwined systems.
Both Xbox One and PS4 will have the following titles at launch: Assassin's Creed IV, Call of Duty Ghosts, Watch Dogs, Fifa 14, Madden 14 and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. PS4 will add DriveClub, Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall as exclusives, as well as the free-to-play MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2.
Xbox One meanwhile, will have Forza Motorsports 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct and Kinect Sports Rivals. Arguably, Microsoft just shades it there, with some heavyweight third-party support, courtesy of Crytek and Capcom. But in general terms, this is a relatively strong opening for a new generation.
So after the fanfare and bluster of the launches, what can gamers expect next from their chosen machine? Well, Xbox One is promising Respawn's Titanfall in 2014 as well as Crimson Dragon, Below, and Sunset Overdrive, not to mention new outings for Minecraft and Halo.
PS4 is lining up Infamous: second Son, The Order: 1866 and Deep Down, with a new Gran Turismo on the slate as well. Plus, Sony has all those indie developers that it's been courting, adding Mercenary Kings, Daylight, Don't Starve and Transistor to the line-up. And both schedules will be enlivened by multi-platform blockbusters like Star Wars Battlefront, Destiny, Final Fantasy XV, The Crew, Tom Clancy's The Division and EA's Mirror's Edge reboot. Much of the battle will be down to any timed exclusives or unique features the manufacturers can prise into the third-party offerings.
Multimedia and social features
Both consoles will have varied video-on-demand support, involving multiple content partners. Xbox One looks to have the most advanced and ambitious offering, allowing owners to feed in their cable/satellite channels and then control them via the Xbone voice and gesture controls. Microsoft's machine will also allow seamless movement between TV, video content and games, while premium TV content such as live sports will be augmented with exclusive social and gaming features – which haven't yet been properly explained (or clearly rolled out beyond US-centric deals). And of course, both machines allow you to watch Blu-ray and DVD movie discs, and both support 4K output when that becomes an issue. Will that ever become an issue?
Backwards compatibility, pre-owned sales and DRM
Uh-oh, here we go. Neither machine allows straightforward backwards compatibility with previous consoles – however, it's likely that both will eventually offer retro titles via emulation and digital download.
Microsoft has abandoned plans to control the sale of pre-owned titles and limit how many people you can lend your Xbox One games too. As with PlayStation 4, games can be sold and exchanged freely.
According to a statement on the Xbox site, there will be no requirement for regular online authentication – just a single sign-in on purchase. There will also be no regional lock on disc-based games. According to Polygon, this will affect some of the more positive elements of Microsoft's original infrastructure - for example, the ability to share your library of games with up to ten friends or family members has now apparently been removed.
For now, Microsoft's attempts to make console game sales more like iTunes or Steam have been thwarted.
The PR war
In short, Microsoft lost. The internet reacted with savage fury to the pre-owned sales limitations and authentication requirements, while analysts have criticised Microsoft's TV-focused strategy. Sony twisted the knife with a confrontational E3 press conference and a viral video lampooning the Xbox one sharing system. A recent poll by Amazon, asking readers to suggest which machine they would be buying, went overwhelmingly in PS4's direction – although there could be an element of protest voting here.
And Microsoft factions are fighting back. A post on Pastebin, reported to be from an anonymous Microsoft engineer, tries to explain the DRM and pre-owned systems, telling gamers they will benefit in the long run, by cutting profit hungry retailers like Gamestop out of the loop. Game designer Cliff Bleszinski has also waded in to defend the Xbox One setup. For their own part, Microsoft execs have gone rather quiet and are no doubt planning a new public relations offensive in the run up to launch.
Launch details and prices
Microsoft has committed itself to a November launch date, Sony has said nothing else except for 2013; though the smart money has to be on November too. Retailers probably won't allow a simultaneous roll-out (imagine the chaos) so expect one to go early in the month, and the other toward the end. Xbox will retail at £429 ($499), PS4 at £350 ($399). However, as noted above, the PlayStation Eye won't be bundled with the console, unlike the Kinect with Xbox One. Both systems will charge an annual subscription for multiplayer gaming access, with PS4 requiring a paid 'PS Plus' membership.
A winner?! Before the consoles are even launched? I don't think so. The history of the games industry is littered with consoles that should have won but didn't; where all the signs pointed in their direction, but turned out to be wildly misleading. And similarly, machines that were expected to dive, turned out to be successes. No one expected the Mega Drive to take off like it did in the States and Europe; and before anyone saw it, almost everyone wrote off the Wii after the under-performing GameCube. Then the Wii Remote was revealed and suddenly the story changed.
Right now, the signs point toward early success for PlayStation 4: on paper, the hardware is more powerful, it has popular support, Sony has said what gamers want to hear. But Xbox One has some great games and there is time for Microsoft to explain and re-spin its business models. The company wants to change the way the games industry works; that's a tough sell to gamers, who are, ironically, an extremely conservative customer base.
What's fascinating is that the whole consumer world is watching. For years, mirthless middle-aged pundits in their global financial research companies have been predicting the death of consoles. These hulking machines are no longer relevant, the kids want to play on tablets; everything is going free-to-play. But it isn't, not yet. Play The Last of Us for 20 minutes and you know why Angry Birds won't somehow replace narrative gaming – as some bean counters have tried to assert.
The first casualty of any console war is sense – everyone seems to lose theirs. No one wins until the launch titles are in the disc trays, or on the hard drives; no one is finished until the last major developer abandons the platform. But it is fun, isn't it, to watch it unfold? Let's not forget the fun part.
Killzone 2 is a first-person shooter video game for the PlayStation 3, developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the second main installment in the Killzone series, following 2004's Killzone. Killzone 2 was released worldwide late February 2009.
Similar to its predecessor, Killzone 2 takes place in the 24th century and chronicles the war between two human factions; the Vektans, and the Helghast. The game takes place two years after the events of Killzone and follows protagonist Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko as he and his unit battle the Helghast as the Vektans invade Helghan. The protagonist of "Killzone" and "Killzone: Liberation" ,Cpt./Col. Jan Templar returns in a supporting role, along with Rico Velasquez . "Killzone 2" is played from a first-person view and allows the player to use a variety of weapons.
Killzone 2 was widely anticipated prior to its release. It was critically acclaimed by critics and fans, who praised it as a superior title to the original Killzone and an improvement over its predecessor. Additional praise was given to the game's visuals, action, multiplayer modes, soundtrack and atmosphere, although criticism was directed at the narrative. The game's critical and commercial success led to a sequel, Killzone 3, which was released in February 2011.
Guerrilla Games announced that the servers for Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 will shut down on 29 March, 2018.
The game is presented almost entirely from a first person perspective, aside from vehicular combat. Killzone 2 features a "lean and peek" cover system which allows the player to take cover behind an object and then pop out to fire at enemies. The "lean and peek" mechanic stays in first-person view at all times. It is also possible for the player to pilot vehicles at two points in the game: a tank and an exoskeleton. Many classic weapons and vehicles from previous Killzone installments return, such as the M82-G and the StA-52 LAR. The Sixaxis motion control feature is also utilized in performing certain actions such as turning a valve, arming an explosive charge and sniping.
Warzone, the title of the online multiplayer component of Killzone 2 has been developed by Guerrilla Games in conjunction with the game's single-player campaign. The online multiplayer gameplay is class-based, meaning the player can choose a class of character which is specialized for a specific role to better suit the player's needs in battle. There are 7 classes in total, in which the player can mix and match a main and sub ability according to their playing style, and can switch abilities upon death. There are 15 weapons available to the player, most of which cannot be used until the player reaches a certain rank. Two of these weapons are secondary firearms, and a further two weapons, the Boltgun and Flamethrower, are exclusive to the downloadable maps "Suljeva Cliffside" and "Arctower Landing".
Players play as either the ISA or Helghast, with a few gameplay differences. The character model and respawn points, and the "lean and peek" cover systems were removed. Each class levels up with experience gained from killing enemies or completing mission objectives. With enough experience, players unlock new weapons and skills, as well as a new class. Each class has two badges, the Primary badge selects the class and their specified skill. The secondary badge has an extra skill for the specified class but can be swapped to create own custom class.
Warzone plays out through dynamic matches where multiple game types are played in a single round. The game does not reset between game types, instead flowing between them, with the winning team determined by who wins the most modes. The game ships with five different game types including Assassination, Search & Retrieve, Search & Destroy, Bodycount and Capture & Hold. Online matches can connect 2 to 32 players, and they can group into six squads of up to four players. If an online match does not have a full 32 players, computer-generated "bots" can be added in to create bigger teams (but only in an unranked match). Killzone 2 also offers a clan system, which allows clans of up to 64 players to compete for "Valor Points", an in-game currency that clans can use to bet on tournaments.
Players can also play offline against AIs with Skirmish mode and unranked online multiplayer, but there is no offline multiplayer mode for splitscreen players.
Eight multiplayer maps are included on disc at release, but Guerrilla has released more maps as downloadable content. 6 more maps have been added to multiplayer since release via downloadable content purchasable from the PlayStation Store.
Two years after the attempted Helghast invasion of Vekta, an ISA fleet led by Colonel Jan Templar is sent to attack Pyrrhus, the capital city of Helghan, with the goal of deposing and arresting Emperor Scolar Visari on charges of war crimes. Among the ISA units taking part in the attack is Alpha Squad, led by Jan's old comrade Ricardo Velasquez. Sergeant Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko, a veteran of the ISA "Legion" battalion, is assigned to serve as his second-in-command.
Tasked with securing Pyrrhus against the fierce resistance of the Helghan Second Army, the team quickly discovers that the Helghast are well prepared for an invasion. Using Helghan's harsh environment to their advantage, they have developed new weapons and equipment, none of which the ISA has ever seen before. Furthermore, the planet's fog-like atmosphere, gritty deserts, and constant storms pose almost as much of a threat to the invaders as the enemy themselves.
Led by Jan's flagship, the New Sun, the ISA bombard Pyrrhus as cover for a massive ground assault on the city. Despite stiff resistance from well-armed Helghast divisions, they steadily advance towards the Imperial Palace, ultimately capturing both Visari Square and the Helghan Military Academy. Just as the main convoy is set to attack the palace, Colonel Mael Radec, commander of the Second Army, activates a network of arc towers hidden beneath Pyrrhus, killing hundreds of ISA soldiers and breaking their momentum.
Dante Garza, a member of Alpha Squad and close friend of Tomas's, retrieves a piece of a destroyed tower and sends it to ISA researcher Evelyn Batton, who learns that the towers are powered by Petrusite, a mineral capable of generating and channeling electricity. She also identifies an old mining outpost on the outskirts of Pyrrhus where the Helghast have been secretly extracting it for military use.
While working to restore the outpost's communication antenna, Tomas and Rico are separated from the rest of Alpha Squad, allowing Radec's men to capture them. The two fight their way through the refinery where the captives were taken, stumbling upon an interrogation overseen by Radec himself. Oddly enough, he demands that Evelyn give him the launch codes to a set of stolen nuclear warheads in Helghast custody. Rico loses his temper and surprises Radec, saving the captives but leaving Garza mortally wounded. Blaming him for his friend's death, Tomas and the squad return to the New Sun.
Before Garza can be properly mourned, an elite Helghast battalion led by Radec mounts a surprise attack on the fleet, boarding or destroying several ships including the Sun. The ship's crew manages to evacuate, but Radec reaches the bridge and executes Jan and Evelyn, downloading the codes before they can be deleted. With the last of his strength, Jan maneuvers the ship to crash into the center of Helghan's Petrusite distribution grid, causing it to explode and disrupt the arc network.
Seizing the opportunity, the survivors attempt to regroup, only to witness Visari detonate the warheads over Pyrrhus, destroying it and killing both the entire population and most of the remaining ISA forces.
With ISA captain Jason Narville leading an offensive on the remnants of the Second Army, Alpha Squad breaches the palace, where they encounter Radec and the imperial guard. After a pitched battle, the wounded commander and his men commit mass suicide out of disgrace, clearing the way to Visari's throne room.
As Tomas moves to arrest him, Visari gloats that he has still won, as the Helghast are now united against the ISA, and without him, they cannot be stopped. Overcome with guilt, Rico kills him on the spot.
Weary from fighting, Tomas exits the palace and sits on the steps. Above him, a large armada belonging to the Helghan First Army begins its attack on what is left of the ISA invasion force.
Main article: List of Killzone characters
- Sergeant First Class Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko is the main character of Killzone 2, and part of the ISA Special Forces Alpha Team. He is a withdrawn and unusually contemplative man. At the age of 25, he's already been in several successful campaigns, but they've also exacted a toll on him. He's an imperfect soldier in a perfect army. He is voiced by Demetri Goritsas.
- Corporal Dante Garza is a member of the ISA Special Forces Alpha Team. Smart-mouthed and young, Garza is a loyal, optimistic, and trusty soldier who has earned his elite status. A close companion of Sev, the pair have served together in several campaigns before being picked for Alpha.
- Master Sergeant Rico Velasquez is a veteran of the ISA. He is a human tank who prefers to shoot first and ask questions later, if at all. He is all attitude, but despite this, he has a good heart. Rico prefers an up-front fight and is a character of extremes; he gets agitated easily and does not refrain from taking action. During the orbital defense platform crisis, Rico was left stranded by a brutal Helghast attack and consequently befriended Templar, Luger, and Hakha. Later, he became embedded with Alpha Team to spearhead the invasion on Helghan’s capital, Pyrrhus.
- Corporal Shawn Natko is the demolitions expert for the ISA Special Forces Alpha Team. An experienced soldier of the same generation as Rico, Natko made a steady rise through ISA ranks before joining Alpha Squad.
- Colonel Jan Templar is the commander of the ISA fleet and the cruiser New Sun. Protagonist of Killzone and Killzone: Liberation, he leads the invasion of Helghan from the sky without actually being in the field.
- Scolar Visari is the ruler of Helghan. He is responsible for the re-militarization of the Helghan troops after their defeat following the First Extrasolar War. Visari previously succeeded in launching an invasion on one of the ISA's colonial planets, Vekta, to avenge what he sees as the abandonment and abuse of the Helghast. He is voiced by Brian Cox.
- Colonel Mael Radec' is the commander of the Helghast Imperial Guard, Visari's personal guard, and defends the planet Helghan. He is shown to have a desire for killing, and prefers action rather than planning. Determined and ruthless, he is called the hound of Visari. He is voiced by British actor Sean Pertwee.
- Weapon Specialist Evelyn Batton is Templar's assistant. She focuses on the technical aspects of the ISA's nuclear weapons and knows the codes to the nuclear weapon "Red Dust" which has been seized by the Helghast. She joins Alpha Squad to help reclaim it in one mission of the game.
At E3 2005, Killzone 2 was debuted with a trailer depicting soldiers landing in a hostile war-zone on Helghan and fighting Helghast forces. Critics in the media argued that the trailer shown at the trade show did not show actual gameplay footage, as its high level of visual detail has been argued to be impossible to render in real-time on the PlayStation 3 and the audio mix of the trailer was slightly delayed. SCEA's Vice President, Jack Tretton, stated that the footage of Killzone 2, that was believed to be pre-rendered, "is real gameplay everybody's seeing out there". Several days later, Phil Harrison, SCE Europe's Vice President of Development, stated in an interview that all of the footage of PlayStation 3 games at E3 2005 were "running off video" which was "done to PS3 spec". Further interviews eventually revealed the trailer was indeed a "target render", a prerendered video showing the developer's goals for the finished product.
At the Game Developers Conference in 2007, a Killzone 2 teaser was shown behind closed doors, and was never released to the public. It featured various battles, destructible environments, and lighting effects among others.Killzone 2 was shown to a panel of journalists at a special pre-E3 2007 event in Culver City, California, and then the next day to the public at Sony's E3 press conference. An in-game trailer showing real-time gameplay of Killzone 2 was also released, along with several videos of extended gameplay. A number of media outlets since E3, such as the BBC, have referred to Killzone 2 as being "one of the most cinematic and immersive games ever produced on a console." At the Leipzig Games Convention in 2007, Killzone 2 was presented in playable form to the media. It was the same demo level as shown at E3 2007, although journalists were allowed to play it hands-on. At Sony's PlayStation Day 2008, the first level in Killzone 2’s single-player campaign was presented, named "Corinth River".
Michal Valient, a Senior Programmer at Guerrilla Games, presented details of their Killzone 2 proprietary game engine at a Developers Conference in July 2007. As with many other titles published by SCE, including LittleBigPlanet and Infamous, Killzone 2 uses a deferred shading engine which enables far greater control over the game's characteristic lighting palette, while maximising processor throughput and limiting shader complexity. Other games to use similar approaches include Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto IV and GSC Game World's S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. However, this approach does create some additional problems; notably with respect to anti-aliasing and transparencies. The former was solved using a MSAA Quincunx (multisample anti-aliasing) solution, and the latter by the addition of a standard forward rendering path. The game's graphics were universally praised by critics.
The animation was done in Maya 8.5 with some motion capture animations tweaked in MotionBuilder. 3D artists, animators and level designers used Maya as their production environment, which is unusual considering that most 3D games are produced using 3ds max. A large library of custom Maya tools and scripts was created to support these different disciplines. Tools like "Hyperion", a lightmap rendering software, were used in place of Maya’s viewport rendering software. In-game animation was assisted with another tool they created called "AnimationBlender" and particle effects were edited using a tool called "Particle Editor". They also created a tool called "ColorTweaker", which gave them the possibility to do color correction on the PS3 in real-time.
Most of the animation was done using motion capture with some animations, reload animations for example, done by hand. Facial animation was done using blendshapes with bones for the jaw and the eyes. Lead tech artist, Paulus Bannink, explains that "The main reason for going with blendshapes was the relative ease with which they can be transferred to different faces, it would also provide a more artist friendly way of editing the facial animation rig.". The cut scene facial animation was done using marker motion capture. In game dialog was done generically using MotionBuilder after audio files were plugged in. The game was developed not only by artists in Amsterdam, but also by people living in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Korea, the UK and the US. The data files, gigabytes in size, were sent over the internet.
Killzone 2's budget was originally US$ 20 million but rose to US$40–45 million at the end of the development.
The score to Killzone 2 was composed by Joris de Man, who scored 60 minutes of in-game music and 30-minutes of live orchestral score for the game, recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, with the Nimrod Studio Orchestra. The score was produced and mixed by Rich Aitken, regular mix partner for Joris de Man and Marc Canham, at Nimrod Productions.
|1.||"Opening - Birth of War (Retribution)"||Joris de Man||3:40|
|2.||"The Second Helghan March (Helghan Forever)"||Joris de Man||2:21|
|3.||"Battle Preparations"||Joris de Man||1:33|
|4.||"Bridge is Down"||Joris de Man||1:47|
|5.||"Ambush"||Joris de Man||2:23|
|6.||"Protecting the Convoy"||Joris de Man||3:14|
|7.||"Flight into Blood Meridian"||Joris de Man||0:45|
|8.||"Fight Your Way Through"||Joris de Man||3:21|
|9.||"Heavy Resistance"||Joris de Man||1:32|
|10.||"An Unexpected Guest"||Joris de Man||0:58|
|11.||"The Police Station"||Joris de Man||2:33|
|12.||"Resistance on the Bridge"||Joris de Man||0:53|
|13.||"Taking the Bridge"||Joris de Man||3:03|
|14.||"Petrusite Revealed"||Joris de Man||0:56|
|15.||"The Academy"||Joris de Man||3:21|
|16.||"Fight the A.T.A.C."||Joris de Man||1:59|
|17.||"A Day of Mourning"||Joris de Man||2:36|
|18.||"Suljeva"||Joris de Man||3:12|
|19.||"Next Stop Tharsis Refinery"||Joris de Man||2:26|
|20.||"Question Time with Radec"||Joris de Man||1:18|
|21.||"Dante Garza RIP"||Joris de Man||1:58|
|22.||"Going Up"||Joris de Man||2:07|
|23.||"Templar's Last Stand"||Joris de Man||3:45|
|24.||"The Exoskeleton"||Joris de Man||3:38|
|25.||"Nuked"||Joris de Man||1:53|
|26.||"Radec's Personal Guards"||Joris de Man||3:10|
|27.||"Visari's Lament"||Joris de Man||4:41|
|28.||"End Credits Suite"||Joris de Man||8:07|
|29.||"Fight the A.T.A.C. (Remix)"||Joris de Man||1:12|
Beta access was given to a select number of North American and European PlayStation Network subscribers. The beta consisted of three online multiplayer maps; "Blood Gracht" (small), "Radec Academy" (medium) and "Salamun Market" (large), with unlockable ranks and character classes ("badges"). Beta testers had their own statistics and have the ability to enter clan competitions. Beta access was private and thus could not be shared with other PlayStation Network accounts. Also, beta testers are tied with Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. by a non-disclosure agreement; therefore they were not allowed to reveal contents of the beta experience. A technical demo of one of Killzone 2's TV commercials, known as the "Bullet" trailer, was released on the PlayStation Store on April 2, 2009. The demo features the commercial itself, the ability to shift camera angles and film speed, and several commentaries from key development staff at Guerrilla Games.
On February 5, SCEE released a single player demo of Killzone 2 on the European/Oceanic PlayStation Store. The demo includes the first two sections of ‘Corinth River’ (the first level of the game) as well as the tutorial sequence from the final game. A demo card, granting access to a Killzone 2 demo was also offered to US gamers who pre-ordered the game at GameStop. The US demo was also made available to those customers on February 5, 2009. In the North American version of PlayStation Home, if users found an avatar dressed in a Helghast costume, the avatar with the Helghast costume would give that user a code for the demo. This occurred on February 16, 2009. On February 26, the demo was made available for download from the PlayStation Store in North America.
In the North American version of PlayStation Home, if users pre-ordered Killzone 2 from Amazon.com, users received free male and female I.S.A. and Helghast uniforms for their avatar. In the European version of PlayStation Home, if users participated in the "Killzone AM" event that took place on Saturday March 28, 2009 at 11 am CET for one full round, the Home Managers gave the participants a code for the Killzone 2 uniforms. Requirement was that users had to have a United KingdomPSN account. For a limited time in Japanese Home, users received an I.S.A. uniform for watching the Killzone 2 trailer and answering a questionnaire. To get the Helghast uniform in Japan, users had to do a pre-order. In Home's shopping complex, there are fourteen — seven for male and seven for female — Killzone 2 themed shirts available for purchase as well as the Helghast Tactician uniform. A costume for Radec was released on March 4, 2010 to the European Home and has been released in the North American.
Guerrilla Games have released a Killzone 2 themed apartment called the "Visari Throne Room" for Home. The Visari Throne Room apartment is based on the throne room inside Visari's Palace from the final mission of Killzone 2. For the Visari Throne Room, there are five pieces of furniture based on actual palace furnishings from Killzone 2: two types of Visari-style chairs, an administrative desk, a plant container with authentic Helghan vegetation, and a freestanding painting which portrays an important moment in the colonial history of the Helghast. The Visari Throne Room and matching furniture were made available to the European Home on July 2, 2009, the North American on August 27, 2009, and the Asian and Japanese Home on October 9, 2009.
On April 10, 2009 Hermen Hulst, Managing Director from Guerrilla Games announced on GameTrailers TV that Killzone 2 will be getting a DLC map pack named "Steel & Titanium" which will contain two new maps called Wasteland Bullet and Vekta Cruiser. With new gameplay elements and strategic twists. The first DLC map pack was released on Thursday, April 30. Hulst stated that the next Killzone 2 DLC map pack that they will be releasing will have a 'Retro Vibe' to it.
The second map pack was officially announced on May 20, 2009 as "Flash and Thunder", and features two maps previously seen in Killzone called "Beach Head" and "The Southern Hills". Both maps followed the first map pack by bringing new gameplay elements and strategic twists; Beach Head, the wide open battlefield, with rain-filled trenches, and Southern Hills with its intermittent nuke explosion. It was released on June 11, 2009. Both map packs have twelve trophies that go along with them, six for each map.
On July 10 the third map pack was officially announced, even though Sony stated that there were no plans for a third pack. The DLC "Napalm and Cordite" was released on July 23, 2009, it contained two new maps "Suljeva Cliffside" and "Arctower Landing", in addition to the maps the Flamethrower and the Boltgun both from singleplayer made their debut in multiplayer. The Flamethrower is found in the Suljeva Cliffside map and the Boltgun is found in the Arctower Landing map. A multiplayer map pack bundle was also released to coincide with the release of Napalm and Cordite, containing all six maps from the DLC packs, for the price of four maps. The downloadable content pack three has eight trophies that go along with it, four for each map which are for the new weapons. With the fifth anniversary of the original Killzone taking place, the map pack "Flash & Thunder" was reduced in price in North America and Europe.
Reception and sales
Killzone 2 received critical acclaim upon release. Critics praised the graphics, presentation, intense action, gameplay, and multiplayer, with criticism aimed towards the story and characters. The game received a GameRankings score of 90.44%, and a score of 91 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Australian Official PlayStation Magazine gave Killzone 2 a 10/10, and the game was said to have "amazing, fluid graphics and animation" as well as "beautifully constructed levels and intense sweaty-palmed action." The review concluded saying "Killzone 2 is the best console first person shooter ever made". In their February 2009 issue, the U.S. version of Official PlayStation Magazine gave Killzone 2 a score of 5/5, stating players "will instantly tag this sequel as a powerful contender for best game of 2009." In the February 2009 issue of the Official UK PlayStation Magazine, they awarded Killzone 2 a 9/10 with the editor Tim Clark stating, "The most surprising thing isn't the visuals - anyone who's seen recent footage will know it's the most handsome thing on the system - but the fact it's got the gameplay to match".
GamePro gave a perfect score, praising graphics technology and multiplayer depth. In their review, Edge gave Killzone 2 a 7/10, praising the online multiplayer, attention to detail, "unparalleled graphics" and the pacing of the single-player campaign, but included criticism of the game's use of "gameplay clichés" and its weak storyline and characters.
GameSpot did not review the game until after its release so that they could experience its online multiplayer features in more depth. Reviewer Kevin VanOrd gave Killzone 2 a 9/10 saying: "Killzone 2 boasts amazing visuals, an intense campaign, and extraordinary online play that will keep you coming back for more." but described the game's story and characters as "forgettable" and said that the motion controls seemed "tacked-on".
The debut sales of Killzone 2 in the United States were 323,000 within 48 hours of launch. The game failed to meet expectations in March and April, when it sold 296,000 and 58,000 units respectively; by the beginning of May, the game had sold 677,000 copies in the United States. Killzone 2 debuted at number one in UK sales to become the fourth fastest-selling Sony published title ever. In Japan, the game debuted at number 3, selling 41,000 units. On April 16, 2009, Sony announced that sales of Killzone 2 had surpassed one million worldwide.
Killzone 2 won 'Best PS3 Shooter' from IGN. It won 'Best Competitive Multiplayer', 'Best Sound Design', 'Most Improved Sequel', and 'Best Shooter' from GameSpot editor's choice. It won 'Best Graphics' in the G-Phoria 2009 Awards. It also took in Game of the Year from Gamereactor. The soundtrack also won gaming's first Ivor Novello Award. In the 2009 Edition of their top ten PS3 Exclusives, ScrewAttack placed Killzone 2 as the fourth best.
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