Killzone: Shadow Fall PS4 Review

February 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, PS4, PlayStation

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe  Developer: Guerrilla Games  Genre: FPS

Players: 1-24  Age Rating: 18+  Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Halo, Resistance: Fall of Man, Perfect Dark Zero and TimeSplitters all have one thing in common, they were FPS exclusives that helped launch consoles. Being that the FPS genre is now one of the most popular ones out there, a console launch would almost be wrong without one or two FPS titles being a part of the first batch of games. While the recent console launches of the Xbox One and the PS4 have the likes of Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 as part of their launch line-up, it’s only the PS4 that launched with an exclusive FPS game, that being Killzone: Shadow Fall.

Killzone: Shadow Fall takes place 30 years after the events seen in Killzone 3, which saw the destruction of Helghan, the home planet of the enemy Helghast. Survivors from the Helghast side are now living on Vekta, which is the same planet that brought destruction to their home world, so you’d expect plenty of unrest between the two sides, and there is. Again, a perfectly good universe is wasted in the story of Killzone: Shadow Fall, which is a real shame, and the story doesn’t rise above anything but decent.

The story may be merely passable, although the game remains a very strong FPS. There is nothing here that many wouldn’t have seen 100 times before, but the shooting feels good, and for those who like a little more challenge, it’s thoughtful approach to taking cover should go down well with those who think the characters on Call of Duty are built way too much like tanks.

Yes, the changes that have been made are changes to the series as opposed to changes that will resonate across the larger genre in the way that the likes of GoldenEye, Halo and Call of Duty have done. One of the changes that Guerrilla and Sony shouted about was the fact that the levels are now more open, giving you the opportunity to tackle objectives in whatever order you desire. While these more open levels are welcome, the game doesn’t present you with enough of these opportunities throughout its lengthy campaign, and more often than not it’s the linear Killzone that we are used to.

More successful is the implementation of The OWL, a hovering mechanical companion that proves to be helpful in many different situations. Not only can The OWL hack computers and save you from death by healing you, but it is also able to fire a zipline in which you are able to slide down, help you out in a gunfight, stun enemies as well as deploy a shield. Switching between the modes of The OWL is achieved through swiping the touch pad in different directions, and it proves to be a most helpful ally that adds some additional tactical elements to Killzone’s combat.

While the brutal shootouts will have bullets cutting you down if you don’t make regular use of cover, the AI is certainly far from being anything special. Shadow Fall’s Helghast soldiers aren’t very bright at all, which is disappointing considering that the AI that was present in the Killzone games on the PS3 was a really impressive display of enemy intelligence. The Helghast are still a menacing bunch in Shadow Fall, although they’re also laughable at times because of their stupidity.

As good as the campaign is, it isn’t quite up to the standards of the campaigns seen in Killzone 2 and 3, as it just feels less focussed, and plays with the formula in some rather unnecessary ways. The levels may be more open, although they largely aren’t as memorable as some of the environments in past Killzone campaigns.

Visually, Killzone: Shadow Fall is one of the best examples of next generation power. There’s a huge variety of beautiful environments, with everything from a forest to a futuristic cityscape. The game runs just as smoothly as it looks, although sometimes it does appear to be one that could have easily been achieved on the previous generation. Then, you might see an explosion of particles or turn the corner to some beautiful lighting, and then you are reminded that you are playing a game on a powerful new console.

Killzone: Shadow Fall also has an online multiplayer mode, although split screen options have sadly been removed. There’s the standard team deathmatches alongside the return of the popular Warzone mode, in which you and your team work through random objectives in a bid to beat the other team. There’s room for up to 24 players (bots can also fill open slots), three classes and 10 maps, and you’ll unlock new equipment by completing challenges, which means it’s a multiplayer FPS that is actually trying to do something a little bit different from the norm. The latter was everything that the multiplayer options present to you, although what it is lacking in is voice chat, which is rather odd, particularly as you are unable to strategise with your team mates via headset chatter.

If you are playing the campaign or the multiplayer, Killzone: Shadow Fall is an intense FPS. The campaign may be lacking in smart AI and is up to the lofty standards set by other games in the series, although that certainly doesn’t mean that the game is a brainless FPS, as taking cover is a must if you want to avoid becoming another victim of the menacing Helghast. The multiplayer may be lacking in voice chat, but it’s certainly fine for what it does, and is an early PS4 game that will keep players coming back for more. In summary, Killzone: Shadow Fall may not be the best Killzone game, but it’s still one of the early greats of Sony’s new console.