Who on Vedka thought it was a good idea to move the Helghast next door.
Killzone: Shadow Fall has been hailed as the PS4’s go to launch title, but did it live up to the hype of the console? Unfortunately Yes and No. Killzone: Shadow Falls delivers on what a Next-gen game looks like and should become, but launch syndrome and what seems like a rushed released creativity wise keeps Killzone from being a AAA Day 1 title on the PS4.
Killzone opens up right after the events of Killzone 3, where the ISA has won the war against the Helgahst setting off a huge terraforming explosion across Helghan. The explosion has killed billions of Helghast, soldiers and innocent alike, and thus a peace treaty was made allowing the surviving Helghast to move to the ISA’s home planet Vedka. There an enormous wall was built to separate the inhabitants of Vedka from the section of the planet that would be known as New Helghan. Whoever the ISA official was thought this would be a good idea should be executed, because as you guessed it some of the Helghast go on a killing spree wiping out any civilians living in their new territory instead of baking pies for their new neighbors. 20 years later you play as Lucas Kellan, a child who managed to escape from the Helghast genocide on Vedka, but losing his childhood in the process. Now a Shadow Marshal for the ISA your mission is to find Helghast terrorist and put an end to this war. Unfortunately the story never develops to anything beyond that, no matter how many times it tries it's just a bland reason to do the actions the game sets for you. The acting is average at best, and the cast are forgettable, and nothing special ever happens on this front.
Killzone plays like your traditional shooter, except it holds a good sense of weight to the characters which feels good to some, but annoying to others. I've thankfully enjoyed it over the past few games, and feel it adds a layer of realism that most games simply skip over. The game also maintains it’s first person cover system which gives it a bit of uniqueness for the genre and does it better than most. New to the franchises; however, is the sheer openness of the stages, which range from open forest, destroyed cities, space shuttles, and more. Even more impressive is the sheer amount of detail these areas possess while keeping a steady and smooth frame rate through it all. The controls are pretty standard for an FPS and react accordingly.
Killzone has also learned a thing or two from RPG’s specifically games like Borderlands as each weapon now has specific specs to look out for. Most will stick to their main weapon, an assault rifle that transforms into a sniper, as it's easily one of the best overall in the game sporting. However, those who take the time to learn the specs. will find out which weapons are best from them will discover a hidden depth overlooked by other who will eventually become frustrated when they realize they're not good with the random weapons they pick up from dead Helghast. One thing that's a shame is there the creatively of "futuristic" weaponry only applies to a couple of the guns at your disposal, and you often end up with just another assault rifle, SMG, pistol, or shotgun rather than a unique and special WMD. However, there is one "weapon" that really stands out and that's your trusty OWL. This hovering multipurpose bot is a blast to use. If you need help taking out squads of Helghast your owl turns into a turret with a swipe of the DualShock 4's touchpad and a press of a button. You need a shield for taking fire use your OWL, you need to stun enemies use your OWL, you need to reach an area safely use your own to zip line down to it, can't stage use your OWL to illuminate the area. It's just a wonderful little tool to have and must become a staple in every game going forward.
Graphics & Audio
Killzone: Shadow Fall is a beautiful game. The best looking on the PlayStation 4 and probably the any console. Even during the down moments where gamers get a break, and graphics usually tone down, Killzone still looks amazing. There are moments where this game just blows you away and you have to stop and take a moment to get a screenshot of it. The Lighting is top tier, as well as the textures, character models, environments, and everything else. Killzone is one of the few example of next-gen graphics.
However, the audio portion of the game didn't receive quite as much love. Overall the audio is solid, with great sounding weapons, solid voice work, and surprising good use of the speaker built into the DualShock 4. Weapons sound futuristic and powerful, and nothing sounds off about any of the characters. On the other hand, the music is passable, and is really there for ambience, but doesn't add to the experience as other soundtracks can.
The true reason to keep coming back to Killzone is the multiplayer and Shadow Fall is no exception. The maps are great, and look every bit as good as the single player campaign. However, the real winner for the multiplayer is the complete freedom and customization of game types to play. Snipers vs. Pistols you got it. Shotguns vs. SMGs you got it. You can literally customize your experience to be what you want, a freedom that sorely missing from most multiplayer games. The multiplayer also run at 60 frames per second for the first time, and it provides a butter smooth experience unless things get to chaotic such as everyone throwing grenades at the same time.
Unfortunately there's also been some cutbacks here. There are only 3 classes Scout, Assault, and Support and 10 maps. However, Guerrilla will be releasing free maps over the course of the game. There's also a $20 online pass which will add a co-op expansion mode. The Multiplayer is really fun, but the cutbacks do sting a bit.
Killzone: Shadow Fall is a great game filled with many missed opportunities. It has good gameplay, good multiplayer, good voice acting, and wowing next-gen graphics, marred by a bad story and lack of wow moments. Ultimately I think Shadow Fall is just a victim of launch date rush, because it's not a bad game and based on the previous Killzone's I know Guerrilla can deliver, but it just seems there wasn't enough time to make Shadow Fall something special. There are points in the game where it feels like something big is being built up, only to be disappointed by nothingness, and that's what brings Killzone's campaign down. That being said the foundation Killzone: Shadow Fall has been built upon is truly great. The gameplay that's there and the multiplayer are worthwhile experiences and carry the game, and the potential is there for a sequel to be great or amazing experience depending on if Guerrilla Games let's go of the World War 2 saga, and fully embrace their Outer Space Sci-Fi setting. The ISA and Helghast both have means of space travel, and it seems like a missed opportunity to not evolve these two factions and possibly more by going ALL OUT SCI-FI EPIC. It’s also unfortunate that some of the new ideas introduced in Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 didn’t make it to the next-gen version such as Jetpacks, mechs, or a memorable villain. If you can get past Killzone's flaws then Shadow Fall can be enjoyed, if not then it might be a pass for you.