Here's the deal: Sony's Killzone 2 could be the best thing to happen to the PlayStation 3...or the blandest. It's literally impossible to say at this point. I've only just today started working over my review copy, and we're gagged in the U.S. from fully evaluating the game until next Tuesday (memo to Sony, since international reviews dropped yesterday -- unless you live in China, the Internet makes "regional embargo" obsolete).
That said, the game is filthy gorgeous, but as far as the run-and-gunnery goes, it hasn't yet grabbed my head and spun it 360 degrees round my shoulders.
You've got the standard issue pistols, missile launchers, and rifles. You trudge through smoking debris on a relentlessly linear trajectory. The bad guys accumulate behind nubs of cover as you play peek-a-boo with your firearms. There's an oppressive totalitarian atmosphere. A few things are breakable. The music clangs away in the background like the Light Brigrade's own soundtrack.
Like I said, the game is hauntingly pretty, and that definitely counts for something, but I'm still waiting for some serious design-tastic stand and deliver in the shoot-and-scoot column. Fingers crossed it's just around the corner.
Of course, I'm only the first level and a half in, which makes these fleeting impressions at best. For the record, my initial reaction to Gears of War 2 was essentially identical.
Keep your eyes here through the weekend for developing reactions before our full review goes live Monday at midnight.
Matt Peckham is playing Killone 2 on "veteran" difficulty, because anything less would be cheating. You can follow his impressions of the game at twitter.com/game_on.