Back in June, a rep from Sony popped into the PSW office with a version of Killzone 2 he'd prized out of the clamp-like grip of Guerrilla, the developer working on PS3's premier shooter. We sat and played all day and though the demo was short, it was packed with incident.
That exclusive cover story, the UK's first hands-on play test of Killzone 2, was just a taster of what was to come. This issue PSW managed to get another hands-on, playing the same level, but further on. The mission is the second in the game and comes after the training sections. It's the first mission proper against the Helghast and sees Sev and his Alpha team attacking the coastal town of Corinth to secure its resources.
The opening is a rush of tracer fire, explosions and shrieking that mimics the classic opener from Medal Of Honor: Frontlines. The objective is to overrun the entrenched Helghast positions and secure the beach for the main force to land as they zoom in on flying sleds.
Controls feel very similar to Call Of Duty 4 - you can zip to a down-the-scope view for improved accuracy, fire from the hip and throw grenades at the touch of a button. Running is assigned to L3 COD-style, and you can hug cover using L1. From cover you can blind-fire or poke your head out to take potshots, and unlike Rainbow Six Vegas 2 this all remains firmly in first-person.
As I began popping Helghast in the head, legs and arms, watching them react as every bullet found its target was massively satisfying. The animation is superb and ensures that every shot you fire feels solid. This encouraged me to experiment with each pull of the trigger. Best of all, this play through puts to bed many of the concerns I had over Killzone 2. The original PS2 game wasn't great, shooting accuracy and balance of weapons being a major fault, but this sequel has been polished to within an inch of its alien-bashing life.
I moved on, off the beach, through a warehouse full of Helghast (reinforcements crashed through the roof in startling fashion) and eventually made it to the Sixaxis-controlled switch. Holding L1 and R1 you 'grab' the wheel and turn it by going through the motions of turning a wheel - neat. This is the moment where everything got turned up to eleven.
Once past the checkpoint where my previous playtest ended, everything was new. Ahead was an open space littered with handy cover - rubble, concrete slabs and broken masonry.
Almost as soon I set foot onto the field, all hell broke loose and a lone gun post on top of a bombed-out tower block peppered my squad. Using cover I scurried to an abandoned gun turret and fired back. An oil barrel below the entrenched enemy caught my eye and a couple of shots later the thing exploded, bringing down the entire building with a boom. Sure, it's massively scripted and shows Killzone 2 isn't that original, but it does put on one hell of a show.
This was more evident the further into the level I played after demolishing the tower block with a well-placed shot to that clichéd barrel I came across the real battle. Ahead of me were a dozen Helghast, behind me were my squad and armoured support.
Here comes the tank
As the fire-fight took hold, using cover positions to progress and fend off the Helghast troops while enjoying the sight of enemies' hats pinging off with well-aimed headshots, I got a shock as a huge tank burst onto the scene.
The tank was mine, luckily. But as it arrived, so did a small army of Helghast, too many for me to deal with - so I retreated to a trench and watched the tank deal with the problem. While my tank was mopping up, I soon came under attack from one of the game's mini-bosses, an armour-clad mini-gun carrying Helghan with a handy weak spot on his back in the shape of an explosive canister.