Killzone: Shadow Fall (PS4) Review
Chance Asue / Nov 25th, 2013 No Comments
Initially referred to as Sony’s “Halo Killer” back in the PlayStation 2 days, Killzone fell far from its goal and made little impact on the first person shooter market. The sequels that followed had more interesting characters, storylines that flushed out the warring factions and their motives, and some truly revolutionary multiplayer gameplay, all while graphically embarrassing its contemporaries. Now almost three years since the last entry, Killzone: Shadow Fall is Sony’s flagship shooter to launch alongside the PlayStation 4. Does Shadow Fall continue Killzone’s upward swing or should the story have ended with Helghan?
Taking place years after the conflict between the ISA and the Helghast had subsided, the planet Vekta is divided in two and becomes a new home for Helghan refugees. The wealthy separate their cities from the slums with massive walls, and clandestine operations take place with the general population being none the wiser. As the tension grows, the aggression comes to the surface and conflict breaks out once again.
Players take control of Lucas Kellen, a VSA agent who works directly under and was raised by the head of the VSA, Sinclair. As Lucas is his most trusted agent, he usually is sent in to clean up other’s messes and sent in alone on the most dangerous of missions. As Lucas takes on even more risks, eventually they catch up with him and he is forced to partner up with the enemy to prevent all out war.
Shadow Fall plays much faster than any previous installment. It is nowhere near as fast paced as a Call of Duty, but the increase is noticeable. It does, however, retain the realistic and deliberate animations like popping out of cover and reloading. Rather than being in the trenches with a squad, players are alone with their OWL companion. With a radial menu, it can provide cover, attack targets directly, become a zipline or stun enemies.
When killed in battle, the OWL can use an adrenaline pack to revive Lucas or hack enemy robots to either take control or disable them completely. Even with all its abilities, the player is still fragile and the OWL is nowhere near as useful as an AI squad member. Most will opt to save their adrenaline packs, out of fear for running out too soon in a battle, or not knowing what is coming next. This means death comes swiftly and often. The upside is that checkpoints load almost instantly.
Environments range from bases in mountain forests, a privileged Vektan cityscape, the refugee slums and even a return to Helghan as it falls apart. Not only does the change of scenery keep things interesting, but expands the color palette far beyond what was found in the previous titles. The settings are incredible to look at, but their non-linear structure and lack of a competent navigation system often leads to spending more time looking for the proper staircase or alleyway that leads to the objective. Buildings and other set pieces are all too often just a decoration.
A handful of sequences are unmistakably terrible. Unless performed in the exact manner the developers intended, they are certain death, even with extra adrenaline packs. The only way to overcome these, since they are required to progress the story, is to die time after time in order to find the magic path of safety.
There is no other way to put it; Killzone: Shadow Fall looks incredible. Not only does the game run in 1080p, but it maintains a high frame rate. There are some dips here and there when the game is loading in more level, but they are few and far between. Facial animations during cut-scenes are great, even for the nameless soldiers players meet up with. Running and other traversal movements are fluid and realistic, as they were with the other titles. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if an enemy is dead yet, considering the length of some animations, but the flailing arms and wild gunfire usually confirms this.
Sound is a mixed bag. For the most part, dialogue is completely reasonable. However, nothing overall strikes as being outstanding. The main characters all sound and act great. Guns sound exactly like you expect them to sound, but not in a negative way. Sprinting in certain areas have footsteps considerably out of sync with the animation. There were occasions when reloading had no sound, or gunfire suddenly went silent for a second. This usually happened as another sound was loaded and played. Generally, it was quickly fixed, but the damage had already been done.
Other voiceovers are good, and audio logs scattered throughout the game help to further enrich the Helghans as people, but some of the dialogue is just plain bad. The music can annoy like no tomorrow. Some tracks loop every ten seconds or so, and in prolonged combat, it is better to just mute the television so you can think your way through the encounter.
Warzones returns. Players or parties can battle through sets of different objectives on the same map, which can be customized to your heart’s content. All classes and weapons are unlocked from the start, meaning the multiplayer is more about being focused on knowledge of the maps and utilizing counter strategies than grinding for experience points. Without the constant reward of experience and equipment, the casual shooter fan will most likely stray away in favor of a Battlefield or Call of Duty. The Killzone multiplayer has always been a place for the die-hard fans.
Killzone: Shadow Fall is undeniably beautiful. It runs smoothly and creates some truly epic environments. Slowly the walls close around you and an uneven difficulty completely ruins the enjoyment. Newcomers may fall in love at first sight with the guns and flashy graphics compounded with some good shooting galleries. Fans of the series can find a familiar multiplayer package with much prettier graphics and a ton of customization options, but the single player is long, inconsistent and unbelievably demanding at times.
tags: fps , Killzone , Killzone Shadow Fall , playstation 4 , ps4 , review