Killzone Shadow Fall
Gameplay - 8
Presentation - 10
Story/Creativity - 1
Lifespan/ Replayability - 7
Killzone: Shadow Fall is arguably the biggest launch title for the PlayStation 4, and for good reason. Guerrilla Games is known for creating visually stunning games that push hardware capabilities to its limits. Past iterations in the Killzone series have featured beautiful graphics, as well as entertaining multiplayer.
What should consumers be expecting when they pick up Killzone: Shadow Fall? For the most part, more of the same. Killzone: Shadow Fall is beautiful in every almost every sense of the word, graphically. The game’s visual score is outstanding, and it had me pausing multiple times just to absorb the images I was seeing.
The environments are richly detailed to the highest degree, but it is the impressive color palate that makes the game shine above the rest. This isn’t the standard shooter with the grey overtone: The world is colorful and never once looks dull. Guns simply look raw and the delightful mayhem they create is even more impressive. In addition, I found that the animations were incredibly smooth as well. Watching building crumble in front of you is a real treat to the eyes, and this is especially true in the later stages.
The games graphics nearly boost the entire package, and I would easily give the game a 10 just on ascetics alone. Sadly, this remains to be the only superb part of the game as I found the rest to be either poor, or more of the same.
Being forced into a linear situation, the games horrific storytelling becomes apparent right out of the gate. The Killzone series has never featured an amazing story-line, but this one is so abyssal that it actually affects the experience.
The main problems resolve around the main character, Lucas Kellen, and the general pacing. Lucas is a highly unlikable character that has no essence of charisma in his being. He is a clear tool and drives the plot off a bridge. Seriously, you will never see this character grow or even think for himself: Lucas would kill five babies and burn down a hospital if someone ordered him too. I know that Lucas is a soldier, but his robotic personality is above and beyond the state of belief. I found myself never caring for him, or his tragic past that had worse voice acting then Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
I don’t know what I wanted more: For Lucas to either obtain some likability or a bullet in the head.
Secondly, the pacing of this story is toxic to the whole experience. The pacing of the game generally goes as follows: Lucas is vaguely briefed on mission, Lucas blacks out to the mission, Lucas completes objectives with little explanation why, Lucas is mysteriously teleported back to the general, Lucas is vaguely briefed on another mission, Lucas blacks out to the next mission.
This is how the game carries on through most of its story, and it really kills player initiative. Other games in the Killzone series have good, or at least decent pacing. The action all connected and steadily grew more exciting as the game progressed. Killzone: Shadow Fall never does that simply because the action is always cut off though these random black outs and time gaps. Part of the reason that the gameplay was never exciting in single player is because there was never a drive to keep going.
Even though the gameplay felt slower and less exciting in Killzone: Shadow Falls’s single player, the mechanics around it were actually really good: Which makes the horrible pacing even more apparent and tragic.
Level designs were especially great as they offered player variety through progression. The levels found a nice medium in terms of size and the gameplay benefited from this. Areas of action were always contained, but had a wide variety of ways to be acted on. It was a nice breath of fresh air compared to the closed corridor and linear progression of most FPS on the market today.
The combat also becomes a little more open with the new robot companion titled ”Owl”. Your little companion will accompany you through most of the game and has a variety of tools that you can take advantage of. These tools are featured though modes and the four modes the owl can use are assault, stun, shield, and zipline: In short, assault shoots things, stun disorient things, shield protects from things, and zipline allows you to traverse the map in order to shoot other things.
This may not sound like much, but it really does add a tactical element to the gameplay. I found myself using my radar to assess the situation, and then planning accordingly with the Owl. It really opens up the variety of strike options and it ultimately benefits the gameplay. One of the best decision for this though was mapping the selection of the OWL’s modes to the touch screen. It’s a more streamline interface that really speeds up the gameplay. The PS4’s touchscreen worked perfectly and I am fully supportive of the new feature due to this.
In summary, the combat in single player is a lot of fun but was sadly slowed down due to the poor pacing of the experience as a whole.
In terms of presentation, Multiplayer benefits just as much as single player. The game still looks beautiful and I couldn’t really tell much of a difference between the two modes. In addition, the level design actually has more details that allowed for interesting way to pursue your opponents and objectives. When I first started however, the game felt empty. I was having a hard time finding locations where the action was happening and most of the time I just wondered the map. This was mostly due to the fact that I was playing team deathmatch oriented games.
Once I hopped in a standard warzone match that had a heavier focus on holding control points the experience became overwhelmingly better. Holding down point A, planting my spawn beacons, and finding the best location to support the battlefield while my other teammates planted turrets or used bigger weapons: This is what Killzone: Shadow Fall excels at. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to successfully secure a base through team planning, and vice versa. This has always been the series strength in multiplayer, and it still holds true today. It may not have changed too much, but the multiplayer is still a hell of a lot of fun.
The multiplayer also allows players to fully customize game modes: Reminiscent of older FPS such as Golden Eye: 007. Guerrilla Games will also be highlighting the most popular of these modes and feature them on the multiplayer hub. Sadly, I cannot truly review this due to the fact that this kind of thing shows off later in a games life: Nevertheless, I fully support it and am stoke to see what gamers come up with.
Killzone: Shadow Fall is a mixed bag that still manages to bring a lot to the table. It nailed the gameplay and multiplayuer which is the core of the series: It is just a shame that the singleplayer had to be so terrible. On a side note, I do believe part of the reason this is so apparent is due to the fact that video game narrative has progressed rapidly within a year span (The Walking Dead, Bioshock: Infinite, The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, etc.) Regardless, this still holds the package back a notch due to the fact that it feels rushed. Killzone: Shadow Fall manages to be a solid launch title that doesn’t exceed the expectations for its status.