'Killzone 2' Multiplayer - Great Game Hurt By Controls?


Posted March 2, 2009 - By Brian Leahy

Let me preface this entire article by saying: I really like Killzone 2. A lot. The multiplayer is great and I spent a lot of my weekend playing the game online. That doesn't mean that I don't have a problem with the game's controls, which have a hardcoded delay and a considerable deadzone on the analog stick.

If you watch that video, you'll plainly see the issue here. It isn't a big deal in singleplayer, but when you're up against other people, it's a potential gamebreaker. Many times during the game, I felt like I was fighting my controller. It removes that feeling of being a badass when you execute a perfect flank. Or surprise three enemies that have no idea you're there only to struggle to kill more than one of them because the game's aiming system is broken.

Why would you ever ADD lag to your game? Since the dawn of multiplayer gaming, we've been fighting a war against lag. We play video games for 1:1 controls. Adding lag is one of the worst design choices ever. Guerrilla Games was attempting to add weight to the character, but all it does is hurt the way the player actually controls the game.

Think about trying to line-up a quick headshot. You move the analog stick to the right, but overshoot the person just a tad bit so you let off the stick. You've just racked up two instances of the input lag. Now, you re-aim, hitting left on the stick. Another piece of input lag on top of the pile. While the controller is sweeping back across their head, you hit fire! Except, by the time the game registers the shot, your controller has moved beyond your target. Now, you attempt to readjust, but you're still going to be dealing with the lag. By the end of that, you're running a delay of about half a second, which is like pinging 500ms to the server.

Oh, and this isn't about me being a bad player. I regularly top my team's score list and don't have trouble aiming in games like Resistance 2, Call of Duty 4, or Metal Gear Online.

Guerrilla Game's response to these complaints during the beta and demo was: "no changes are required to the system," but they are reportedly looking into them again for the first patch. "We have not stopped looking into the complaints and will see what we can do about it.  Any possible changes will have to be carefully implemented and tested before being deployed though."

Isn't that what the beta was for?

This is my plea that you remove the input lag and allow players to configure their deadzone. The reason for this control neutering, according to Guerrilla Games, was to create a slower, tactical shooter. Guess what... it isn't. There are a lot of odd balance choices that seem to contradict this vision of the game:

  • Incredibly long sprint distance with a quick recharge - If you want slow and tactical... don't make it possible to run the entire length of the map at a sprint. I understand you want people to get back into the action, but it gives players too much mobility. Pair that with poor aiming and it makes kills incredibly hard to get.
  • Overpowered shotgun with autoaim - The inability to fight and mid to long range effecitvely has created shotgun spam to end all shotgun spam. I've lost countless fights with shotgun users standing pretty far away because they enjoy a certain degree of auto-aim (turn the flashlight on with the aim button) and a large spread. If their first shot doesn't kill me at mid range, I should be able to reliably put them down with my assault rifle (Note: Guerrilla is investigating the shotgun auto-aim for the first patch).
  • Normalize the damage model - I don't know if its network lag, but I've run into several situations where I've hit someone with a headshot three times in a row and failed to kill them. Other times I've popped off one shot and fragged them instantly. As for body shots, I'm not sure how many bullets are needed to down someone. In games like Call of Duty 4 I know roughly how many bullets are required to drop an enemy. This is very important as it allows me to move from target to target without waiting for the kill notification (which also seems very delayed).
  • Turrets, turrets, turrets! - Turrents are tons of fun, but aren't when everyone playing as an engineer can drop them easily without much consequence. Especially when the turrets can actually aim. Maybe they should get input lag, too? I've never been able to reliably kill a sprinting enemy, but the turrets have no problem scoring headshots on sprinting opponents.
  • Useless melee - Please add a lock-on for melee like Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3. With the input lag, by the time I swing my gun, my enemy has already run by, rendering the melee attack pretty useless.

I truly hope that Guerrilla Games realizes that they've made a mistake and removes the lag. This has the danger of turning into a Lair situation, where the developer claims that their controls are fine and that you just aren't playing it correctly. Well, the players get to decide if the controls work and these don't.

I urge all of the fanboys to drop their blind defense of this game, which is good, but broken. There's nothing wrong with offering players 1:1 controls and letting each player configure their controls more effectively. It's nice that Guerrilla Games is "considering" making a fix, but they need to make a fix. If not, I'm going back to Call of Duty 4, where my gun aims reliably.

My only fear is that the input lag is used to hide poor netcode, but the fact that the lag exists in singleplayer as well is promising.

What have your experiences been with the controls of Killzone 2?

'Killzone 2' Multiplayer - Great Game Hurt By Controls?


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