I was a big fan of Killzone 3. I loved the flow of the campaign and the visceral way the online multiplayer changed up objectives and game types on-the-fly was fantastic. Finally, now that the PS4 has hit, we get ourselves a new Killzone game that is a beautiful spectacle to see and a features a few changes to both the single player story and the online multiplayer. Some are good, some are not so good. Let’s step into the shoes of a Shadow Marshal in Killzone: Shadow Fall.
Set years after the events of Killzone 3, planet Helghan is all but destroyed and the ISA have decided to allow survivors of the war to move onto their home planet Vekta as refugees. The planet is now divided by a giant wall that separates the Vektas from the Helghast. Needless to say, the Helghans still hold a lot of animosity towards their new found saviors due to the millions of casualties that happened during the war. The player takes on the role of Lucas Kellen, a special operative who performs covert missions for the ISA, trying to keep Helghans from taking revenge on his people. Of course, there is something big in the works and a fanatical Helghan group is rising up to try to take over the entire planet and exact some vengeance as well.
[jwplayer config=”Age Gate” mediaid=”46048″]
Taking a page out of Crysis, Shadow Fall has a much more open feel to the single player. I was dropped into a massive area and was given objectives as to where to go and what to do. These areas can be gigantic and with the power of the new technology of the PlayStation 4, it looks absolutely amazing. Lucas is usually sent in alone on his missions and so players will need to use forms of stealth to make it through areas. Technically, Lucas is not alone. He carries around with him a floating bot called the OWL. He can give it commands to hack certain doors, attack enemies, stun them to release shields and create a bullet absorbing shield for himself. When the player gets shot down, if they have an adrenaline pack on their person, they can have the bot revive them even after “dying.” The bot also serves as a zip line creator for getting down to lower areas from a high distance.
The story has its twists and turns and tries to convey some emotional response from the player, but for the most part, it really fell flat. The voice acting is good and parts of the story are compelling, but the characters seem one dimensional and only serve as a bridge to the next mission.
The objectives are another problem I had. It seemed like I would either get lost or miss something I was supposed to do in order to progress. At any time, the player can hit up on the d-pad to show the current objectives, and usually there is a marker that pops up on the HUD that points in the right direction, but it’s up to the player to figure out how to get to that little orange marker. More times than not, I would end up running around for a good five to ten minutes trying to find my way around. It really brought down the flow of the game.
One last thing to mention about the single player, there is a part closer to the end of the game where Lucas has to free fall/wing suit glide through a city that is falling apart. This four minute section took me almost thirty minutes to complete. If I ran into anything, I would die instantly and go back to the beginning. This was one of the most frustrating parts of a video game I have played in years and I regularly play Dark Souls.
Visually, the art style and overall presentation is stellar. The futuristic look really nails it and the facial animations are some of the best I have ever seen. The lighting effects, especially in the dark, derelict spaceship really nail it. This is one game that really shows off what “next gen” graphics can look like.
The big hook and one of the best parts of Shadow Fall is the online multiplayer. Much like in previous Killzone games, Shadow Fall utilizes the Warzone mode to the fullest. This mode pits teams against one another in a constantly changing mission. For one part, I was playing team deathmatch then five minutes later, it switched to a capture and hold game. It all changes every so often to really keep players on their toes on what to do next. Players have the choice of spawning as one of three classes. Each class specializes in a certain weapon type and has numerous abilities to use during play. Some of these include a cloaking device to hide from players, dropping an automated turret that can lay down cover fire and a first-aid ability to revive fallen teammates. There are tons for each class and even more to unlock by completing challenges. The challenges are where players also unlock new items, weapons and better abilities. There is plenty to keep even the most dedicated players busy for hours.
Online also allows players to create their very own custom games with numerous sets of rules. If I wanted to play a beacon capture game with just pistols and only allow the invisibility cloak as an active ability, I could. There are a lot of possibilities and there’s something there for everyone. The more popular game types will even be featured on the front page of the multiplayer title screen so there is always something different for the players that want more than the standard Warzone match.
Shadow Fall utilizes the DualShock 4 in some interesting ways as well. Players can switch the OWL bot’s primary use with a swipe of the touchpad, and audio logs all play out through the controller’s speaker. This is actually very interesting and I enjoyed every time I picked up one in the field.
For a launch title, it’s not a bad choice if you’re into either Killzone or online first person shooters. The single player has some frustrating and confusing/ambiguous parts to it, but there are still some great things to look at while you’re there, however the overall story may be a bit of a letdown. The main campaign lasts around eight hours before the credits roll, and that seems to be the right stopping point for it. The multiplayer is still as fun as Killzone 3 and the dynamic feel of Warzone is still here with tons of extras to unlock. If you have a PS4 and you enjoy a more methodical FPS and want to see some really pretty visuals, Shadow Fall is a good choice.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.