Developer: Guerrilla Games
Available for: PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 launched with three first-person shooters in its line up. As the other two (Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts) are available on other platforms, Killzone: Shadow Fall is the only one that has the “Only on PlayStation” stamp on the box. Although not really a groundbreaking game by any means, Killzone: Shadow Fall at least earns that stamp of exclusivity by virtue of being a showcase title for the system, and a good overall indicator of what to expect with true next-gen console visuals.
Simply put: the game looks amazing. If you are a Killzone fan used to the bleak and monochromatic visuals of the past games then this one will catch you off guard. Running around Vekta is a feast for the eyes: I especially liked the bright day levels with vegetation. Lighting and reflections are topnotch, with loads of shaders that quite frankly couldn’t be done on last-generation systems. Even the smallest of details get flushed out thanks to the extra horsepower and VRAM behind the system: you can now see what kind of material those Helgan uniforms are made of. For the most part, the game runs at a buttery smooth 60 frames per second on full 1080p. Hands down, this is the best-looking console game out there.
As expected, the game falls apart once it tries to build a convincing narrative. The overall concept seems interesting but the execution is confusing to say the least—in the previous game you save your planet being destroyed by foiling the enemy’s plan to destroy it and in the process destroying their planet but now you feel guilty so you give them half of your planet. Huh?
Gameplay is a bit different from previous Killzones. Where the previous games had you playing as various soldiers caught between multitudes of skirmishes trying to save your comrades and following orders, Shadow Fall has you portraying a special agent working behind enemy lines. Levels maps are more open ended and less linear. Objectives are more varied and stealth is a significant part of it.
Being a Vektan James Bond of course means you’ll have specialized gadgets. In this game, you only need one — the OWL. The OWL is a drone that follows you during your missions. You can utilize it in a number of ways to aid you with your objective: sliding your finger on the Dualshock 4 touchpad will switch the OWL’s functions, then hitting L1 initiates that function. Up on the touchpad is attack mode: Sending the drone to engage an enemy target. Very useful if you are pinned behind cover and need covering fire. Right on the pad lets you deploy a zipline to help you traverse the map, Left is an EMP blast that zaps enemies shields, and down on the pad lets the OWL defend a target position. Your trusty drone can also hack terminals to accomplish context-based actions like disabling alarms and such.
The audio side of the game is fantastic. The subtle ambient music fits every mood of the sequence. Gunfire and futuristic beams are realistic and believable. Hearing the narration from the Dualshock 4’s built in speaker when you pick up an audio log is a charming gimmick. I was surprised by the sound quality of that tiny speaker.
Multiplayer has the same modes as Killzone 3‘s Warzone. I didn’t encounter any lag or long wait times to join an online session. Overall, a very smooth experience.
- Graphics. Best console visuals yet. Though there are a few ‘meh’ parts, overall visual presentation is fantastic.
- More open levels. Exploring is a thing now. Less linear execution of missions is refreshing.
- The Owl. The little floating drone gives the gameplay an upgrade in the tactical division.
- Awesome multiplayer. 24-player battles with tried and tested modes give the game longevity after the campaign.
- Not really specific for the game but the PS4 share button kicks ass! (all screenshots here were uploaded using the share button)
I Wish it Didn’t Have:
- A boring story. Although interesting at times, the narrative is a bit confusing and delivered in a ho-hum way.
- Levels that are artificially lengthened by enemy waves. I wish they’d be more creative with this but I guess it’s what Killzone is about.
Killzone: Shadow Fall has its triumphs and faults but if you want to let your friends know what next-gen is all about, buy Killzone: Shadow Fall and show it to them.