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Killzone 2

The full verdict on the brilliant multiplayer beta that proves glowy eyes will dominate 2009

PSW spent hours blasting it's way through the Killzone 2 beta, which offered only three maps, but plenty of insight into how the rewards and levelling-up system works.

It never got boring. On each map the mission objectives constantly change at random between Assassination, Body Count, Capture and Hold, Search and Destroy and Search and Retrieve, which forces you to think on your feet, act fast and modify your playing style.

I started as a lowly Private with a choice of only two primary guns, yet a few matches under my belt and I'd made it to Sergeant, with the ability to make my own clan and invite friends. Later still I'd earned enough Ribbons to unlock the ability to carry more grenades, as well as unlocking the shotgun and a Medic class. I'm still a long way off the 2800 points needed for a promotion to General, but by the time the beta ends I reckon a few skilful players may have made it.

There's still a couple of months of development time ahead, but the Killzone 2 beta is already an addictive beast.

Blood Gracht

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The smallest map, and definitely my least favourite. It's essentially a series of walkways and tiny rooms suspended above a large dry canal that passes through the level.

There are too many choke points where the bodies pile up and the lag kicks in, especially during missions such as Capture and Hold and Search and Destroy where the target is static and therefore the action is more concentrated. It seems to take forever to turn around, and I badly missed being able to use the cover fire system from the single-player game.

Salamun Market

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My favourite level, and the largest of the three which makes it ideal to host any of the mission types. It's a mixture of indoor and outdoor industrial complexes that boasts superb lighting; there's something really eerie about seeing a Helghast's red eyes poking out from the gloom to give him away.

The alleyways leading from the main streets to the more industrial area beyond tend to be the focus of the fighting, but unlike Blood Gracht's chokepoints there's plenty of room to manoeuvre and plan team assaults.
There are so many openings and vantage points from which you can be killed without even knowing where the bullet came from that Medics play a crucial part.

However, since it takes a lot of time and effort to unlock new roles, at the time of writing there aren't enough of them about to truly get the most out of this map or the other two. Hopefully, when it comes to the full game we'll see a lot more variety on each side.

Radec Academy

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A medium-sized indoor level that forces you into plenty of close-quarters fights. The academy's open courtyard that divides the ISA and Helghast spawn points is a complete no man's land, though it's possible to skirt around the outside using the pillars as cover. There's also an underground passageway connecting the two sides.

The shotgun rules this map, though long-range weapons are good for picking off players foolish enough to stand in the windows and doorways across from you. It's also a map that only works if the sides are even, otherwise it's virtually impossible to get out of your own spawn point.

If there's one thing Guerrilla must learn from the beta, it's that it's far easier to see the red lights of the Helghast mask than the blue lights from the ISA outfit, meaning everyone wants to play as the ISA to gain an advantage.

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