Throughout my playthrough of Killzone 2's single-player campaign, I regularly found myself making comparisons to Gears of War 2. This might seem strange given that these are very different games, one being a first-person shooter and the other being in third-person. But they share a certain gritty meat-headed quality that made it impossible for me not to think of one while playing the other. And again and again, the resounding conclusion I kept reaching about Killzone 2 was that it was missing one very important ingredient: personality.
Sure, the dialog in Killzone 2 sucks. It makes Gears seem like it was written by Shakespeare. Don't get me wrong, the dialog in Gears is pretty stupid, but it's at least sort of smartly stupid. And sure, Killzone 2 could have used some kind of extra gameplay hook to help set it apart from the crowd. Gears has its chainsaw bayonet, but there's nothing similarly unique or interesting in Killzone 2's combat. But I could probably forgive these things if Guerrilla had bothered to inject the game with at least a shred of personality.
Personality in a game is hard for me to define, but I know when it's not there. Maybe it has something to do with the character design, or the voice acting, or way the weapons handle. I'm not entirely sure. It just seems that with all the money and time Guerrilla spent on making Killzone 2 into a visual powerhouse, they forgot to spend any of that $20+ million budget on hiring some decent writers and actors. It's a shame, because aside from it's utter lack of charm, it's actually a fairly good game. Let's hope that Guerrilla can muster up some creativity for the next installment.
So do Killzone 2's amazing graphics make up for its lack of charm or personality? On a single playthrough, I'd give a tentative yes. But I don't think I'll be coming back.