Does Killzone 2 reflect the PS3's full potential?

So can the PS3 ever do better than this, in terms of graphics? The jury's still hung as to whether the much-ballyhooed Cell processor at the console's heart is all smoke and mirrors, or if it's still far from displaying its true potential.

Given that Killzone 2 uses four and half of the console's six cores (and for a PS3 game to use even that much is quite an event), it's entirely possible the best is yet to come. The PS3 has proved a notoriously difficult beast for developers to code for, but as time goes by they'll hopefully become more familiar with its strange ways. So the likes of Killzone 2 will hopefully one day be more the rule than the exception.

By contrast, the 360's less ambitious processor is relatively easy and familiar to established developers. As a result, it's likely we've seen close to the outer limit of its potential already.

Sony has repeatedly said that they believe the PS3 will ultimately win the console war. Right now, that looks like the ravings of madmen – but if publishers can stick with the PS3 for long enough, we might yet see Cell live up to its initial promises, and that could change everything.

PS3 has ageing graphics hardware

That said, the PS3's graphical clout largely relies on the Nvidia RSX Reality Synthesize GPU, which is based on the desktop GeForce 7800 chip – one that PCs are already three generations of 3D card on from. If developers ever do manage to make the best of Cell, they might find the old Nvidia chip turns out to be something of a bottleneck. Still, there's likely a lot of room for optimisation yet.

Think back to the Playstation 2's twilight years, and how games such as Shadow of the Colossus were achieving visual wonders no-one could have dreamed of in that venerable console's early days.

Over time, developers learn tricks and shortcuts that allow them to use console hardware far more efficiently, as opposed to the relatively brute force rendering more common in its younger days. For instance, the use of deferred shading (also employed in Little Big Planet) is helping to increase the rendering efficiency and lighting quality of newer PS3 games; we can expect similar leg-ups as the console ages.

Already, God of War 3 is on the horizon as the PS3's next oh-gosh-wow game, and from the scant amount on show so far, it may well trump KZ2 in terms of both looks and mass appeal.

Outside of the whose-graphics-are-best willy-waving, neither Killzone 2 or Gears of War 2 make any great strides forward for their genre, so the question is whether a well-put together shooter with spectacular graphics is still enough to reverse a console's fortunes.

Looking backwards to the original Xbox, it was Halo that made a superficially ridiculous concept (Microsoft of all people making a console?) a success. Halo was far from a flawless game, and some of the missteps of its two sequels remain bewildering, but it shook up the console shooter genre, making it simultaneously leaner and greater in scale.

The PS3 is still in need of a solid-good reason for someone who's still sitting on the console fence to buy it, and Quite A Pretty Shooter That's A Lot Like Other Shooters probably isn't it.

Even from a back of the box features list point of view, it isn't 1080p and it doesn't do anything to sell Blu-ray as a gaming format with anything over DVD.

What this game will be, without a doubt, is a dream come true for existing PS3 owners – what finer a reward for their patience and devotion than a lavish graphical showcase like this? Killzone 2 may not be the PS3's GTA III or a Halo, but it's very much giving the people what they want.