Killzone: Shadow Fall Review
|ESRB rating: RP
release date: Nov 15, 13
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The long wait is over and we get our very first taste of next-generation gaming, with Sony’s PS4 flagship title, Killzone: Shadow Fall. Having seen the game in action both during the E3 and at Gamescom, we were more than eager to finally go through the entire package. Sony has been touting this game more than any of the PS4 launch titles, so it’s time to see what all the fuss is about.
Killzone: Shadow Fall takes place soon after Vekta resolved their war on the Helghan planet via a horrific chemical fire that destroyed most of Helghan and the Helghast population. The surviving Helghast have moved to Vekta and forced half the planet to give up their homes to make way for their homeless population. An elaborate Wall was even erected to separate the two races. Does this sound familiar to a certain on-going conflict in the real world? I’m fairly certain that’s the underlying point of Killzone, which is unfortunately one of the only few good points to the game’s campaign. Shadow Fall stars Lucas Kellan, a Shadow Marshal who was sadly orphaned when he and his father tried to flee the half of Vekta that is now New Helghan. In a predictable turn of events, he becomes one of the elite Shadow Marshals of Vekta, just like the man who saved him and killed his father’s killers. It’s the player’s job to guide Lucas through his missions on both sides of the Wall, through space, and occasionally through a ginormous free fall.
Sony offices? Look I just came here for a job interview... Easy!
That's him! That's the bastard who somehow always manages to steal my socks!
While I admit that the premise itself is interesting because it sparks some interesting thoughts on racism and genocide. Unfortunately, the single-player campaign as a whole is marred by unintuitive objectives and missions that are extremely padded for length, especially the end missions.
Each mission relies on the all-too-familiar linear formula we’ve seen too many first-person shooters before. On the other hand, the maps often seem rather open. At first this felt like it would give the player more options to how to approach a given situation, and sometimes this is true. However, as you progress, the openness feels almost more of a hindrance than anything else, particularly since many maps do not have an intuitive feel as to where Lucas needs to go. Thank God the player can highlight a directional marker for the objective by pressing up on the d-pad, but those missions where Lucas has to find something to move on, good luck to ye. I’m fairly certain I have worn out my up d-pad button already with how many times I’ve pressed it to figure out where in the world I needed to go.
At least the AI is quite scripted and a little dumb to help make up for this. You can always count on the Helghast to consistently pop up their heads after you shoot at them and even run straight toward you when you’re shooting. In addition, whenever Lucas has an unplanned demise, the player can definitely count on the enemies appearing exactly where they were the last time, making it very, very easy to memorize a sequence.
The controls don’t vary from your typical shooter, but Shadow Fall does implement the DualShock 4’s touchpad to control Lucas’s OWL, a flying drone that more often than not is Lucas’s personal life line. Lucas can order the OWL to shoot at enemies (which can make for a great flanking partner), pull up a shield for Lucas, hack computers, stun enemies, and even summon a zipline on the fly. Players tell the OWL what function they need by swiping a particular direction on the touchpad. At first, this feels clunky and another example of new features of a new console being shoe-horned into a launch game. In fact, this feature creates a rather steep learning curve. After you get used to it, however, you can’t help but see the genius behind it. Swiping becomes incredibly intuitive (unlike the game’s objectives), and it’s a great way to add in a second d-pad for different action commands.
It's jaw-dropping gorgeous, has a really unique and fun implementation of the touchpad, and, like its predecessors, has a great multiplayer experience that includes customizable matches;
Forced script, unintuitive objectives, padded length in the final missions thanks to way too many busy-work tasks, and an ungodly frustrating final boss.