Killzone: Shadow Fall review (PS4)

theChickGamer | 184d ago | User review
Reviewing: Killzone: Shadow Fall
Different yet the same, always amazing
Killzone does have a soul: it is gritty, hostile, violent and brutally beautiful to look at and experience.
Killzone’s multiplayer is one of those games you don’t play to progress your character, you don’t play for killstreaks, you don’t play to unlock skins or characters, you just play it because it’s viscerally exciting to play.
You play it because the maps layout is fantastic.
You play it because every match is different and depending on the class and the class abilities and weapons you chose, you live and use and abuse and exploit the map in totally different ways!
You play it because it’s an orgy of awesome sounds, and details and tech.

Compared to Killzone 2 and Killzone 3, Shadowfall multiplayer component is different. Guerrilla has made some changes, some may look for the best, some for the worst, but it’s really hard to say, it’s just different, familiarly new to some extent. Yet it’s the same because it features the same soul, the same pace, enjoyment and involvement we have come to love.
Those KZ online aficionados really can’t but like Shadowfall because it DOES deliver THE Killzone experience.

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By the way, whether you’re a KZ fan or not, let’s take a look at KZ peculiarities; being a shooter, It’s particularly important to focus on the shooting and movement.

SHOOTING & MOVEMENT:
Killzone shooting experience has evolved over time. While in KZ2 one could almost get motion sickness from walking and running around, Killzone 3 definitely made the weapon and character weight and shambling less apparent and Shadow Fall follows on KZ3 steps.
Truth be told KZ2 was unique in its handling the shooting, but we’re talking about a futuristic setting with high-tech weapons so the reduced bobbing does also make sense setting-wise.
In fact if the character does wobble while he runs (as it’s fair and just), it is not excessively. It does still retain the feeling of a human, armor-clad soldier though as the running is not too fast: the weight is still there; this is also experienced through the pretty useless jumping (I’m talking about the simple jumping up and down, which is “heavy” and won’t make you dodge bullets) and how you climb over walls or ladders.
The slide is short yet useful to get to cover or out of enemy fire. You can’t shoot while you slide and the recovery is quick but not immediate.
Killzone is still one of the few first person shooters to feature a cover system, which works smoothly and without interfering with the action. In fact, it does add strategy to the game and helps creating interesting game situations: most notably, in my experience, the “trench” ones, as I call them.

Shadowfall weapons can be described as regular army weapons with a futuristic twist to them. You have the usual types: assault rifles, miniguns, guns as sidearms, shotguns, missile launcher and sniper rifles but they all feature a sci-fi approach. The same stands for the grenades with the petrusite one (that creates a toxic green fume that resists for several seconds) and the mobile mine (which is basically a small mechanical spider that will try to hunt down enemies) being the most unique.
The shooting is very, very different depending on the weapons you use, which may seem obvious, but I feel it’s taken to a higher level than usual. For example, when using the Support’s minigun you can’t even crouch unless you swap to your secondary gun.
Every weapon is really unique in its own way, but in general terms we can note that there isn’t too much recoil, the reloading is slow enough to feel realistic and the guns are all quite precise. Still aiming really pays off, especially on the distance since Shadow Fall does not feature any kind of aim-assist (which I personally find awesome). The spreading does get worse with the distance, of course, but it’s never too bad (at least when aiming), shooting from the hip is rarely a good choice.

Something that’s important to point out is that the player always feels in great control of the character: regardless of featuring a cover system you never feel like your character is not doing what you want. Climbing up the stairs requires you to use the “circle” as well, so you won’t find yourself climbing them without wanting it.
The controls are thigh and smooth.
The game gets much more brutal when you go up close. The knife melee kills are merciless and always extremely killzone-ish.

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CLASSES
In Shadowfall there are 3 main classes: Scout, Assault and Support. They have access to different set of abilities, bots and weapons and each of these trigger a different gameplay within the classes themselves.
Traditionally the classes in KZ2 and KZ3 were five, but they have been reworked into the current three. In the end, this has created more variety rather than the contrary, I feel, because each class it’s more varied in scope with a primary, fixed ability and a second one you can choose depending on how you want to play the game.
A sad note for those that loved playing Infiltrator is that the disguise ability is gone, so you have to pick a new favourite one.

What is really great, and something that’s always been a strength of Killzone’s multiplayer, is that the three classes are deeply different yet they are all efficient and interesting to play. You can’t really say one class is unbalanced or overpowered (although the air drones sometimes are really mean killing machines, but that’s just one ability that may need re-balancing or rather that’s particularly effective on some maps –the Forest anyone?). They are all exciting to play, they all have abilities you want to exploit at their best: some of which are brand-new to Killzone Shadow Fall. Moreover they are all needed for the team to succeed: you need well-placed spawn points but you also need the energy shields that protect you from enemy fire and someone sneaking behind enemy lines.

It’s also interesting to point our how you can easily change and update your loadouts any time while playing, so that as soon as you unlock something you can equip it, or if you feel like leveling up a skill rather than changing your secondary ability because the team requires it, you can do it in an instant.
Shadow Fall character loadouts screen is easy to navigate if you’re used to the Playstation crossbar and definitely efficient.

SCOUT
The mischievous and sneaky sniper that can also play up close and personal with invisibility and a sharp knife to turn into a cutthroat.
The scout’s main ability is the radar, upon activation it highlights all enemies in its range and that’s quite handy for the whole team (yeah, you’re going to miss this when there’s no scouts nearby). Couple that with a stun drone that dazes the enemies around and you’ve got a powerful combo.
Instead of the drone you can use the cloak, that will make you invisible and only armed with a knife. This is a fun combo to play especially in some maps (for me the Forest offers that predator-like territory that just fits the bill). I also really like how your footsteps become much heavier and every other sound softens, running around with the perception of being hardly visible almost offers a “spectator” feel, with the difference that you can make the difference! This doesn’t mean though that a cloaked scout is absolutely unstoppable, in fact, you’re still detectable and face to face people are going to shoot you down pretty easily.
The scouts third ability it’s the teleport, as the name says, it’s takes you out of harm’s way pretty easily.

ASSAULT
This is the frontline guy, it’s his duty to go and confront the enemy face off. His main skill, in fact, is deploying an energy shield (nano shield) that protects whoever is behind it from enemy fire (and which is quite effective). His other abilities (sprint, drone buddy and stun blast) are all geared toward making damage on the frontline. While initially you may find the nano shield ability not so amazing, with a little time you’ll find yourself wanting of it, during several battles, especially when you need to hold your ground (during specific missions or even just deathmatch) or when you want to push near the enemies base. This is a new ability, and, again, I feel that it adds to the tactic side of the game.
The sprint comes really in handy during the beacon missions or if you want to surprise your enemies from behind and pour bullets on them. The drone buddy is always useful to have to watch your back and the stun blast is a formidable kamikaze ability, you can use it nearby an enemy group that once stunned can be made short work of by a support buddy (that’s also ressed you in the meanwhile).
All in all it’s an effective class for those that like to battle head on.

SUPPORT
As the name says, this is the guy you want to have close by with it’s big and bold machine-gun weapons, and lots of support abilities ranging from the spawn to the air drone, the ground turret, the supply box (that give you ammo and life back) and the support teleport (teleports him to a friend in danger).
His primary ability is ressing squad-mates, so you see why you want to have him close by: suppressing fire and res me, plus his drones that guard your back. And that’s also why you want to play support yourself: high damage, lower mobility but a definite beacon of pouring bullets and help for your team.
The support basically takes the place of what we had as “field medic”, “tactician” and “engineer” in KZ3, making it a staple and versatile class to play.
As I mentioned the Support can place spawn-beacons wherever they want, while in the previous Killzone games the beacon were placed at set points and needed to be captured (by the tactician) . I think this was a great move on the part of Guerrilla, to me, it’s like empowering the player and giving them the ability to shape the game even more profoundly.

Shadowfall has gotten rid of the XP system and rather features an incremental system for the abilities (that reach level 11 and are most effective at that point) and unlocks for the weapons and accessories.
So the more you play a certain class and its peculiar abilities, the more powerful those abilities/weapons become, personally I agree with the decision, it doesn’t take anything away from the game and connects you to your character much more than a progress bar. I also appreciate not having points to spend on things, you earn what you play, again, this tunes you to your own gaming style and adds that RPG feel where your character earns competence based on the use of his skills and items.

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MAPS
Killzone maps are a work of art, layout-wise they’re pure genius and I can prove it: being relatively small, you still manage to play 24-players games without losing track of the action and being able to focus on missions. This is possible because they have been designed with playability as their main principle.

Killzone features fixed spawn-bases: that’s where you spawn when the game starts and each time you die (unless you use the deployed spawn beacons); however all the bases have at least three different exits, making is difficult for a team to really siege the opposing team in their base (something that was much easier to do in KZ2 – it was fun though, wasn’t it?). This does not mean that this kind of situations won’t happen, you can easily marvel at how players love to step out of their base walking on the pile of their comrades corps, proud and sure it’s their time to change the fate of the game (it may well be, but maybe just take them from behind using the other exits).

Shadowfall maps mostly feature three levels of playing that interconnect here and there, adding complexity to the layout and renting it to the gameplay. They’re specular with some smaller differences in layout and style between the contending parties. The levels develop in a very organic way and exploring them to find unused paths is quite intriguing and can lead to fun discoveries.
It’s also worth noting how they’re all very different from each other. The main and basic shapes differ enormously and each map features something peculiar.

I had to pick a favourite it’d be really difficult. “The Slums” is certainly in my top three, together with the “Penthouse” and the “Spire”, but really, each and every map is fun to play and experiment with using different classes and abilities.

The Divide:
opposes a high-tech part against an rougher counterpart. This has a unique layout in that the two opposing fronts are only united by a small space in the middle (around which a lot of the action takes place as it’s completely free of cover and visible from most of the map) and two suspended corridors on the sides. It’s also a good map for sniping on the upper level and it has many different passages to sneak into the action.
Even though the central part is completely free of cover, when missions are active the core of the action often focuses in other parts of the map (especially with well placed spawn points!).

The Factory:
All Shadowfall maps are fairly small, but among them all the factory is the most massive, as is “amassed” on itself. It’s a compact and complex map with lots of different paths, ups and downs. It’s intricate and so full of stuff it makes it hard to spot where snipers may be campering.
It offers a solid and challenging playground, and, as for most KZ maps, knowing its secret routes is the key to success. Playing objective-centered missions here is quite brutal!

The Forest:
the one premiered, is probably the simplest one as far a design is concerned and it’s the favourite playground of Air Support drones, in fact it doesn’t have any covered spot and your team’s better be armed with air drones and Turrets (to shot the enemy’s air drones). This is also a lot of fun to play with the Scout’s cloak ability as you can easily circle around and take the enemy team from behind (Predator style!).
A Simple yet still fun map that manages to play multi-levels in a small and uncovered space.

The Park:
in peaceful time this would be among my top places to live: it’s new-age futuristic, and includes green and vegetation with super-high tech parts: it’s a kind of Citadel-style place and it’s wonderful. I really wish Shadow Fall environment designers would be put in charge to design future cities and buildings! That said this map manages a good complexity in a relatively small space. Levels interconnect and super-impose and with distinct inside and outside parts ,it manages to offer different kind of playgrounds depending on the mission being played.

The Penthouse: layout is pretty unique as it revolves around a central room with rotating doors, but that’s not always the focal point of the action, in fact it develops (depending on the mission), all around the map. When fetching beacons, for example, one mostly runs around the perimeter, which really means outside the windows and with a breathtaking view of a huge, futuristic city (don’t look down!).
This is also a pretty intricate map where you can more easily surprise your enemies by coming from above, in fact most action spots are also reachable from the second level and once you learn how to get around that’s the way you’re going to win matches.

The Remains: is a remake of the Bilgarsk Boulevard map from Killzone 3. While it definitely wasn’t my favourite K3 map and had quickly become the favourite playground of snipers, I think it plays much better in Shadowfall. In fact with the changes applied to the various classes, the sniper no longer dominates in this map and it’s become much more balanced and fun to play. It’s still a good one for some nice nipping sessions, but no longer as unbalanced and boring as it was in KZ3. I think it’s a great way for Guerrilla to showcase the rebalancing done to the classes.
Overall it’s become a solid map with many different areas where the action take place, that allow for a very varied gameplay within one map only, it’s especially enjoyable playing all the extended warzone missions as you get to live and fight in all the various zones and nooks this map offers.

The Slums:
Just what the name implies, the style of this conglomerated live space is hectic and unique, definitely representative of Shadow Fall style and truly unforgettable.
The map itself features some intricacies with different spaces and areas over each other to form a crucible of places that interconnect in a organic way: at first you may feel lost, then, after playing the map a few times, you learn how to reach each and every point and it really feels like a cool playground to explore and exploit. This is going to be a map that we’ll also mention when talking about Shadow Fall in the coming years!

The Spire:
I absolutely love this map’s layout: it’s unique and much more organic that one initially perceives.
The trick here is to really understand how everything connects and to take the smart, faster routes, otherwise you need to have long legs! As with most of Killzone maps it’s actually got several kind of well distinct areas in a somehow little space. Verticality is very important, especially in the main, central area, where many levels overlap and interconnect and allow for strategic positioning.

The Station:
it’s a more “traditional” map that mostly extends on the main level, which is “whole”, so to speak, but has also got underground and elevated parts that allow for some effective gun-fighting. The central area is very large and mostly uncovered which makes the area-capturing missions particularly difficult and deaths-ridden. On the sides though, it does feature much more complexity and this again is a map to learn if you want to play effectively since using the second level can help you avoid the hot areas of the map and get behind enemy lines.

The Wall:
It mostly develops on two levels, with the third being a kind of corridor just above the spawn bases (good for sniping). This is a crude and rude map and it lends well to a “trench”-style of playing as it’s got a main level with plenty of covers for shooting at each other on a relatively small distance. It also features underground semi-covered corridors that offer that claustrophobic feel.

Compared to the previous games, Shadowfall maps are all fairly small. There aren’t any really large and vast maps, something we were somehow used to. Because of the quality design though and the levels featured, it’s never too much of a massacre although you get into the action pretty quickly, but it’s still possible, if you know your map well enough, to circle around the enemies and take them from behind.

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GAMEPLAY
Team-play is king in Killzone. Even if you want to play for yourself and by your own, even if you ignore your squadmates, team-play always lays at the core of Killzone. The classes abilities are geared toward helping the whole squad and it’s easy to take advantage of your fellows’ boons regardless of how they use them.
The one ability that can most easily turn out bad is the spawn beacons one, since if your squad-mate chooses a bad spot it can easily turn into a massacre (it is NOT a good idea to place the spawn beacon a couple of meters from the enemies base unforgiving turrets!).

This is especially true during the Warzone missions more than the deathmatch, but even if you only have to obliterate the opposing squad, some good team-play can really help out.

Most importantly a team should be well balanced, there should always be someone that places spawns, a turret or two to help keep the air support at bay. Air Support and stun drones to help guard your back. In fact a team in Killzone is not just made by players, but also by their gears and drone.
Also note that you can change/update your loadout on the fly, so that if your squad desperately needs someone to place spawn, you can change your Assault ability and get back into the game to help your team.

Shadowfall does not feature the Jetpacks and Mechs introduced in KZ3, which is a pity really, but they wouldn’t honestly fit in any of the current maps and probably don’t match the new style and story. But who knows, maybe Guerrilla has some nice surprises in store for us for the future!

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GRAPHICS
So, Killzone Shadowfall plays at 1080p, features a very stable framerate and looks absolutely wonderful. Both the art design and the graphics themselves are top-notch.
The characters (both ISA - now VSA - and helgast) have evolved over time to achieve a personality and detail that are stunning and absolutely unique to Killzone. Tthe snipers are perhaps the most recognizable class of Killzone but the character and weapons design is unique and stellar all across the board.

The detail and diversity poured into the environments really makes you feel in a world that it’s consistent but vast and varied and each map tells and hints its story. If you played the previous multiplayer and remember what Guerrilla artists had done with the “nostalgia” package for Killzone 3, you already know how they can make a place show its history.
The difference in style with the previous chapters is certainly marked: Shadowfall is full of colors, it’s got a very large palette with bright and bold hues. This could happen because the new setting is markedly futuristic, in a very technological way, definitely a change in style from the previous warzones and devastated planet. The mood is much less gloomy and more breathing although a map such as “The Wall” can easily bring you back in time.

The Menus and multiplayer interface are both very stylish and accessible.

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What I’m really MISSING: Operations.
I’ve discussed some of the changes Guerrilla Games has done to Killzone multiplayer and I feel like since Killzone 2 they have been fine-tuning their game. In contrast with other franchises that have stayed more similar to themselves through the years (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if the formula already works great), each Killzone has been slightly different. I feel that most of the changes they have done from Killzone 3 are for the better, and for the most part I’m really not missing what’s been taken away and rather enjoying the additions; but I’m not sure I can forgive Guerrilla for taking away this amazing modus gaming. I loved Operations in KZ3 even though it was often plagued by lag but it was so good to play.
They have tried to bribe me with this girlish skins for my bots and so far It’s working, but it would really be awesome if an Operation-like modality were released later on. Lots of people really loved it!

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Does this review sound enthusiastic? Yes it is, because Killzone Shadowfall is a great multiplayer to play and it deserves the praise.

Playing with friends is a breeze and you always keep staying in group even when you drop out of games. There are different playing modes that are all interesting and peculiar and with the last update Guerrilla introduced the Extended Warzone, that features all 10 available missions (and which is my favourite, although, unfortunately, not the most popular)..
Exploring the classes is a lot of fun and being able to edit them on the fly it’s great. The game plays smoothly and looks wonderful: it’s challenging, fun and engaging. So if that’s the kind of multiplayer experience you like, you should definitely try Shadow Fall.
Ups
no-hassle party system/drop-in drop-out experience
excellent multi-level maps
varied, interesting classes
Downs
no "heavy" addition to the game
missing the Operations
Score
9.5
Graphics Characters and maps are gorgeous, full of details and sport a huge variety. Killzone has a ton of style and uses lights and special effects handsomely. Great frame rate, unique and impeccable style.
8.5
Sound The game sounds are excellent, but the voice-over for both sides isn't as meaningful as in the previous KZs. The beloved killing *blip* is always there!
9.5
Gameplay Gameplay is solid, fine-tuned, polished. The classes are well-balanced, the maps offer everything for all different playstyles and the missions, albeit not being anything revolutionary, are fun and require different approaches to them.
9.7
Fun factor Killzone multiplayer is fun, the kind of fun that makes you want to play one more game, switch between classes depending on the mission so you are more effective, try different game-styles for "something different"
9.5
Online Overall is a solid and smooth experience. Using PS4 party system players keep staying together even after dropping out of games etc. and disconnects happen very rarely. Joining games and playing with friends it's totally hassle-free!
9.5
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
IcyEyes  +   184d ago
Awesome review.
Finally someone who talk about the MP of this game !
robtion  +   183d ago
As a multiplayer review this is a great review and I agree with most of what you say.

Unfortunately I really feel the single player was a huge letdown compared to 2 and 3. What are your views on this?
#2 (Edited 183d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
theChickGamer  +   183d ago
To be honest I haven't sunk my teeth in the single player yet (not enough time for both), I only just started and played for maybe half an hour.

The start isn't bad at all, it looks gorgeous and the animations are so smooth, but it's definitely much too early to make any meaningful comment!

I still remember very vividly the beginning of KZ2 (quite impressive for its time) and enjoyed both KZ2 and KZ3 campaign (probably KZ3 a little more, I really liked Sev as a character).
I'm intrigued to play Shadowfall and hope to have a little more time in the next weeks to dive into it!
ABizzel1  +   183d ago
I'm just now starting the multiplayer, and to me it seems like a lot of their focus went towards nailing multiplayer rather than single player. The multiplayer is really good, and I was a bit surprised to see that multiplayer looks every bit as good as single player IMO, and running at a higher framerate. The maps are good sizes, EXTREMLY Detailed (Forest map, is almost as good as the single player map, just smaller), and the game is well balanced (even the bots are decent).

I feel they need to take a long break from Killzone and start on their new IP. They ideas, openness, and gameplay in Shadow Fall are IMO the best the franchise has had and it's really good. That being said they need time to let these ideas boil and marinate. I single player feels like a rushed launch attempt, and while it's not bad it's just not on the same level of polish as the multiplayer. The story is average at best, the cast is forgettable, the set pieces and moments never really peak, and it overall a bit underwhelming simply because there were so many good ideas and good moments (the forest was a good moment, the abandoned space ship could have been a great moment I was getting all kinds of Dead Space vibes but nothing came of it).

If they want to create moments, then they need to make the City invasion scene from Chapter 9 playable. All those ships flying and crashing, with the mechs smashing through the city, and plenty of soldiers shooting at each other. That's a moment.
robtion  +   183d ago
I agree. I know they can do better as 2 and 3 had really great campaigns. I think launch pressure/time restrictions took their toll.

Can't wait to see what their new IP is. Hoping for something from the 3rd person perspective.
newflesh  +   183d ago
Damn.. that was a looong review...
SaffronCurse  +   178d ago
I haven't really touched on the SP much, the first chapter shows some promise. The MP is spot on and it feels like they've put in a ton of effort in making it as fun and balanced as possible.

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Killzone: Shadow Fall

Average Score 7.5 Reviews(201)
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