“For me, Killzone is the stand out PlayStation 4 title at launch”
Killzone: Shadow Fall comes with a campaign that’s so frustratingly close to fantastic it pains me to see it fall just short. Around two-thirds of the way in, the campaign reaches it’s apex, before quickly disintegrating in the final few hours. Apart from a lacklustre opening two missions and some really unimaginative enemy respawn issues towards the end, I haven’t enjoyed a single-player campaign for a first-person shooter since Halo 3. Despite enemies being chucked at you to artificially increase the difficulty towards the end, Killzone: Shadow Fall can’t hold a candle to BioShock Infinite’s poor attempt at this earlier in the year.
Similarly to Infinite as well, Killzone: Shadow Fall comes with an extremely nonsensical plot, although unlike Infinite, it doesn’t have a deeper meaning to delve into after the credits role. Much like the main character Lucas Kellan, the narrative is largely forgettable, somewhat boring and yet again, misses the chance of really going deeper into Killzone’s dark backstory. But fortunately we can bypass that as there’s enough here, besides the plot, that makes Shadow Fall one of the strongest games from the PlayStation 4 launch, and the best overall Killzone game.
It’s the most colourful Killzone by a country mile. With truly stunning vistas and a move away from the dark, gritty, colour scheme used in previous iterations, Shadow Fall produces arguably the best looking game to ever hit a console. From the modern skyline of Vetka, to the impoverished alleys of New Helghan and everything in between. With each new mission, Guerilla have tried to stir things and up the ante every time.
The campaign reaches a pinnacle in a mission a couple of hours before the end, after dropping down from high above, you relentlessly fall through the clouds to reveal a truly breath-taking view of where you’re heading next. It was the first time I thought to myself that this was how next-gen games should look. I won’t spoil it for obvious reasons, but there’s a difference between something graphically looking great and a sequence where fantastic looking backdrops are brought to life and turn from a static scene to something you truly interact with. It’s not something that will define a generation or even set a new precedent, but it made me stand up and take notice.
You’re also able to take on missions how you see fit. In almost every mission you’ll reach a section where a number of objectives will appear and it’s up to you on how you want to achieve them. While it won’t be a mind blowing addition to the series, it allowed Guerrilla to open up the maps a little bit and allow for some larger exploration. A move away from the previous games habit of funnelling you down corridor’s from point A to point B. There are times though when you’ll need to keep pressing D-Pad up to see your next objective location, most of the maps don’t really define where you’re going by landscape alone.
One thing that surprised me no end, was the game’s inclusion of stealth. It’s not a trait that’s been handled terribly well in FPS’s, except for something like a Deus Ex, but Shadow Fall’s implementation is admirable. You never receive any indication of whether you’re hidden or not, and most stealth segments usually end in an outright fight as you’ll be spotted. But I like the idea of trying to be silent and sneak through an area. Most importantly, I never felt cheated or that the AI had somehow spotted me unfairly, and in a game like this, it’s all I can really ask for. There are some games out there that heavily feature stealth as a main gameplay mechanic, but still can’t come up with a good system (Assassin’s Creed, I’m looking at you) so I was pleased with what Guerilla managed to achieve here, and it’s something I fully expect them to develop and play with in the future.
The weapons that you’ll use here are standard affair, with not much breaking from the ordinary. It’s the addition of the OWL that’s more intriguing though – a small flying drone that can aid you in your progress, which you operate by swiping the touchpad on the DualShock.
Swiping in different directions allows your companion to shock enemies, attack, create a shield, hack terminals or to create a zip line – taking you to a new area. On paper it sounds like a great idea, but truth be told I only really used it for plot related actions, or in the latter stages when enemies became too overwhelming and I reverted to using the shield. Perhaps that was because of stubbornness on my part and not wanting to use the OWL, or it could possibly be me being forgetful that my companion even existed.
Shadow Fall’s multiplayer is unfortunately a standard affair. You’ll be bombarded with the usual list of match types with different pseudonym names. It’s an online mode that ticks all the boxes, and if it does click with you there’s no reason not to enjoy yourself for hours on end, especially with free maps being delivered by Guerilla periodically. It’s just a shame there’s been no real innovation or interesting elements added to it, like we saw with the campaign section.
By dropping the numbered sequels, a huge weight has been lifted off the franchise. Shadow Fall feels fresh, alive and vibrant and I can’t wait to see where Guerilla goes from here. For me, Shadow Fall is the stand out PlayStation 4 title at launch and one of my favourite games this year.
- Visually Stunning
- A new direction for Killzone
- Some great campaign levels
- Some bad design decisions in a couple of campaign levels
- Multiplayer hasn’t evolved enough