Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Sony hopes Killzone 2 is on target

Killzone 2 screenshot
Killzone 2 is a highly anticipated game for PlayStation 3

Killzone 2 is arguably the most important release in the short history of the PlayStation 3.

Announced at the unveiling of PlayStation 3 (PS3) in 2005, it was used as a battering ram to convince gamers of the power of the as yet unreleased console.

But the trailer shown at the E3 games conference in 2005 became mired in controversy when it was revealed the footage was a "target trailer" and a render running on unfinished hardware, rather than on a PS3 itself.

Despite the controversy, and the four years that have elapsed between that announcement and the imminent release of Killzone 2, the game remains a crucial release for Sony, which will be hoping it can drive sales of the PlayStation 3.

Sony needs a title to help define its console in the minds of core gamers. The PS3 lags in sales behind its rival Xbox 360, and the price difference between the two machines means Sony's exclusive titles have to work harder in order to justify the higher price tag of the PS3.

Just as the Halo franchise came to define the Xbox and, more importantly, make people go out and buy the console, Sony needs Killzone 2 to push hardware out of the doors of retailers.

Killzone 2 screenshot
The developers have been working on the game for four years

Hermen Hulst, managing director of Killzone 2 developer Guerrilla Games, says the game has always been an advert for the console.

"Our mission for the title was to build a showcase for the PlayStation 3 hardware. I think we have pushed the machine, so I am hopeful that we can help Sony push hardware units.

"It's a great title for gamers to show off what they can do with their HD set. I am quite hopeful it will make an impact."

Reviews of Killzone 2 have been very positive, with putting the average score at 92%.

Set in the future, the game pits the human race against the Helghast in a classic science fiction battle of good versus evil, with plenty of references to the march of the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s.

The game has been praised for its graphical fidelity and solid design, while criticisms have mainly centred on a lack of overall innovation and a rather stolid narrative.

We've delivered in most areas on the vision we set out. We have pushed the machine hard
Hermen Hulst, Guerrilla Games

When it finally hits shops at the end of February, every pixel of its 720 by 1280 resolution will be pored over by gamers looking to see if the finished article matches the original vision.

Mr Hulst insists that the game has surpassed that vision in some places.

"We've delivered in most areas on the vision we set out. We have pushed the machine hard. The vision was about the graphical fidelity we were creating, and the other thing was the intensity and chaos around the player - there's plenty of that in that game."

The game certainly stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the most graphically rich titles released on any gaming platform. It also boasts 7.1 surround sound, making the most of its atmospheric audio design.

He adds: "If you analyse down to the nitty gritty, there are some areas to improve.

"But in some areas we have pushed it further; the weapons look better in game than they do in the target trailer, for example."

Guerrilla has had the PlayStation 3 hardware longer than most and claims, contrary to popular belief, that the machine is not harder or more difficult to develop on than other consoles.

Killzone 2 screenshot
Killzone 2 is set in the future and pits humans against the Helghast

"I'm surprised by how much room our technology producers have squeezed out of it. We were reviewing some levels and thought that 40 or maybe 50 dynamic lighting elements were possible in one particular level at a time.

"But there were many dozens more. There were well over 100 active dynamically at the same time.

"Our tech team have been optimising right up to the last minute and rather than shaving things off we were able to let a lighting artist and texture artist know there was room for more polish," he says.

The launch of the title has missed the crucial Christmas window but Mr Hulst says it was a conscious decision.

"We wanted to take extra time to put in the polish. The window we are coming out in now is good for us. People have played their Christmas titles and are ready to get their hands on something new and fresh."

Mr Hulst says he is loath to compare his own game to other First Person Shooters on the market but he adds: "It's perhaps got a little more polish and is realistic and smoother. But now it's up to the consumers to give us the final verdict."

Sony will be hoping the final verdict is reflected in a lift in console sales.

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