Killzone: Shadow Fall

Shadow Fall is a step in the right direction, and represents what will be expected from every other Killzone that will follow

By Grayshadow, Posted 30 Nov 2013

The Killzone franchise has developed an unpredictable path. The original PlayStation 2 game was heralded as an average shooter and its sequels were advertised to showcase the power of the PlayStation 3 with fickle results. Now Killzone: Shadow Fall has launched with Sony’s new next-generation console, the PlayStation 4, with a new intent. Powered by a new piece of machinery, and stripping away all the graphical limitations that we’ve become accustomed to, makes Shadow Fall a different kind of Killzone for the better.

Killzone: Shadow Fall, PS4, Sony, Review

Decades have passed since the Helghast had to leave their irradiated planet. Now living among the ISA on Vekta, an uneasy alliance has been forged, along with a giant wall, between the warring races. The planet is teeming with hazy Helghan environments we’ve seen in Killzones along with new incredible blue seas and futuristic cities. Instead of large scale battles, the war is now fought through covert operations that take you behind enemy lines, undercover missions, and at the center of terrorist attacks. 

At first, Shadow doesn’t fully represent the massive leap forward that we were told earlier this year. Most of the game is dedicated to showing you how pretty the environments look, without serving any purpose, and does take up valuable time that I would rather spend shooting. When entering Vekta City I was given a full aerial view of the city, and the wall, and in the opening sequence unnecessarily put face to face with multiple characters with the sole purpose of showing off the power of the PS4. Nevertheless the environments are diverse, gorgeous, and have a palpable feeling to each landscape. Whether it was entering an empty military spaceship  or facing a Helghast face to face, I was constantly aware that I was watching something that the PS3 could never muster. It may not run at 60 frames per second at all times, but Shadow Fall performs well, easily overshadowing Killzone 3. 

Killzone: Shadow Fall, PS4, Sony, Review

You take control of Shadow Marshal Lucas Kellan, a lone wolf who must face the atrocities committed by his own faction. Shadow Marshals are the ISA’s covert assassins, trained to successful complete suicidal missions. It starts off slow, but after the first mission, the game opens up, allowing you access to standard weapons and eventually deadly arsenals. Each gun is easy to use and fun to shoot, and some provide secondary options such as grenade launchers or long-range rifles. None of the weapons stand out, like the Bulleyes from Resistance or Halo’s Needler, but each one of them still have that Killzone look that fans will appreciate. 

As a Shadow Marshall you get access to the best equipment. This includes an operating drone called OWL. This small companion can produce shields, provide cover fire, shock your foes, and create zip-lines. On top of all those neat functions it can also hack mainframes and alarms, while you hold off hostile forces, and revive you provided you have a shot of adrenaline. These adrenaline shots can be used within combat and will not only heal Lucas, but allow the young Shadow Marshall to activate bullet time when aiming down the sights. In addition, Lucas is equipped with a radar that allows him to scan the area for enemies, but if overused will alert adversaries to his location. 

Killzone: Shadow Fall, PS4, Sony, Review

Having Lucas new equipment, OWL, and abilities makes Shadow Fall a refreshing change from past games. The levels allow you to toy around. In certain situations you can choose to go in guns blazing, disable the alarms prevent reinforcements from coming, or stealth fully kill each target. Of course, this freedom isn’t always present and limited with finite spaces that prevent you from diverging from the set path (diving into shallow water is still an instant death). 

Those familiar with the franchise will notice that the hefty feeling during movement has been removed. Shadow Fall is instead quicker, and while I still noticed a second delay from aiming down the sights I was still able to shoot with better accuracy with this change. 

Killzone: Shadow Fall, PS4, Sony, Review

The Helghast are capable warriors and put up a decent fight, but only in numbers. Although they take cover and exercise basic preservation tactics, they usually resort to overwhelming numbers. You don’t need to create elaborate battle plans for each fight. Merely shooting everyone in front of you works, usually. Guerrilla Games has, however, put enough options that the game doesn’t seem like you’re just plowing your way through hordes of enemies.

The campaign is varied, delivering a mix clever distractions and tawdry moments. Some of the missions do offer tactical options with hidden rewards and sub-objectives during certain missions. But sometimes I was unclear where and what I was supposed to do because of the small icons displayed on the interface. During missions I would press up on the d-pad, to display my current objective, and would have a difficult time navigating to that point due to the color and size of the GUI. Best of all the large battlefields from the previous two Killzones have been replaced with condensed missions. A couple of times I was given the chance to use stealth as an option, but it doesn’t always work well due due to slow kill animations that don’t always register. Luca may be a Shadow Marshal but he doesn’t have the speed, or precision, of Corvo Attano.  Then there are the activities that you’re forced to endure. The zero-gravity sections, free-falling parts, and replacing energy containers. When Guerrilla attempts to change the pace by implementing these boring sections have one thing in common: they aren’t fun. 

Killzone: Shadow Fall, PS4, Sony, Review

The Dualshock 4’s performance is definitely highlighted during the multiplayer battles. A lack of auto-aim and a drop in recoil demands that the player be constantly aware of the next threat. While certain novelties, like your health bar broadcasted on the controllers light bar, and built-in speakers for audio diaries are alluring touches, they’re easily overlooked. 

When you’re finished with the 10 hour campaign you can rest easy knowing that Killzone’s multiplayer has been refined for the better. You can practice offline with bots in the various combat labs, giving you a lot of options to fiddle with such as weapons, game types, and abilities. Each of the 10 maps revisit locations from within the campaign. The removal of Killzone 3’s Exo Suits and jetpacks are a matter of taste; I found their termination to be fruitful for more stable ground combat. 

Killzone: Shadow Fall, PS4, Sony, Review

Returning from Killzone 2 and 3 is Warzone. By far the most entertaining mode in this calamitic option objectives are constantly changing, at the beginning you could be facing off in team deathmatch only and at the end domination. Other classic modes are also available as individual choices such as capture the flag and deathmatch. But if you want to create your own clever design Guerrilla Games have also included an array of options for you to tinker with, name your game and then play it. 

All the weapons, the three classes (scout, assault, and support), and their abilities are available from the beginning. Scouts are designed for stealth and long range combat, assaults head the offensive with deployable shields and attack drones, and finally support players can revive players on the battlefield. The few unlocks that are available are acquired from completing challenges and extend the duration of your abilities. These bonuses aren’t significant for prevailing in the competitive matches but increase the odds of your survival. Each class has their own specific abilities, and like in any other popular shooter using them efficiently is necessary to insure victory.

Shadow Fall is a step in the right direction, and represents what will be expected from every other Killzone to follow. From environments cloaked in a haze of dust, and linear corridors to something refreshing and welcomed. The AI still needs some work and the non-shooting sections are tedious distractions. The multiplayer is the crown jewel, with easy accessibility and a robust amount of options the Killzone community have enough content to ensure a thriving multiplayer community. Killzone: Shadow Fall is a great launch title and an excellent shooter.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer(s): Guerrilla Games
Genres: First-Person Shooter
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2013-11-15

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