Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Killzone: Shadow Fall

The PlayStation 4 launch line-up has an impressive variety of title, arguably more so than the Xbox One, but at its core remains the fundamentals. Racing, platform and first-person shooter (FPS) experiences are what the modern industry were built upon, and Sony Computer Entertainment have […]
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Rating: 5.0/5 (3 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre ImageThe PlayStation 4 launch line-up has an impressive variety of title, arguably more so than the Xbox One, but at its core remains the fundamentals. Racing, platform and first-person shooter (FPS) experiences are what the modern industry were built upon, and Sony Computer Entertainment have clearly been keen to make sure that all of these genres are represented out of the gate. Killzone: Shadow Fall is the representation for FPS gaming and it fills that void adequately if little else.

The videogame places you in the role of Shadow Marshal Lucas Kellan, a fighter for the human resistance who saw his father killed in cold blood at any early age. His entire life has been dedicated to fighting, moving up through the ranks by Electronic Theatre Imageproving that he is the best. But he’s not afraid to take chances, engaging in aggressive activities that his superiors have not sanctioned, but still getting the results. Telling this story Killzone: Shadow Fall gets caught by that trap for forcing players to play for half an hour before even giving them a gun. It’s a storyline that takes time to establish as it’s not a simple case of good-guys-kill-bad-guys, but the fact that it’s the face of a new console at launch means that many who play it won’t be invested in the Killzone franchise already and, frankly, won’t care. They want to shoot things and that’s why they’ve bought an FPS videogame, and Killzone: Shadow Fall isn’t any stronger for making players wait to do this.

Once you do get hold of a weapon things don’t necessarily improve. Killzone: Shadow Fall’s pacing is all over the place, at one moment tasking you with a silent infiltration and the next through wave-after-wave of pin-point accurate enemies at you. Assault troops supported by snipers; shotgunners taking to wide open areas and entering the field behind you without warning; grenadiers keen to dispense explosive charges with no awareness of friendly fire: these are instances Electronic Theatre Imageof intense combat that, if truth be told, are simply not fun. The weaponry the player is presented with feels lifeless and is genuinely uninteresting, filling a science-fiction world with Call of Duty style armaments on the same fashion as Homefront.

One of the best tactics available to players is using their drone to thin out the numbers before performing a manual clean-up. This consists of using the Dualshock 4’s touchpad to switch the drone into combat mode (a simple upwards swipe) and then pressing L1 when targeted on an enemy. The drone will automatically engage in combat with any enemy units in the area, leaving the player with the opportunity to simply wait until its taken out a few surplus goons. In an FPS where the combat is fun this would be an interesting tactical opportunity, here in Killzone: Shadow Fall it’s a means to an end.

The campaign is obviously a key component of the Killzone: Shadow Fall experience, and things do improve as you progress, but its mismatch of gameplay design and the objectives which see you traipse back-and-forth across the same land mass (with respawning enemies to boot) reek of a videogame that was rushed to meet a Electronic Theatre Imagedeadline. Killzone: Shadow Fall fills a whole in a marketers design, not the demand for an enjoyable, innovative next-generation FPS experience.

The multiplayer aspect of Killzone: Shadow Fall allows for up to twenty four players to take to the battlefield in a handful of generic gameplay modes. Once again Killzone: Shadow Fall seems to fill it’s quota without ever going above the entry level demands placed upon it. It’s a by-the-numbers multiplayer component that leans too heavily towards the Call of Duty standard, as if the development team at Guerrilla Games were unable – or more likely unwilling – to make a play for something fresh with a launch title. It’s a shame as while Killzone has never been considered a groundbreaking franchise, Killzone: Shadow Fall was the most obvious window of opportunity Guerrilla Games have ever had to change that.

The visual quality of Killzone: Shadow Fall is where the videogame shines. The landmasses are vast and impressive and the character animation goes far beyond anything the previous-generation of consoles could have offered. That being said, the facial animation sits well behind the quality of the Xbox One’s key launch title, Ryse: Son of Rome, and there are many notably low resolution texture on some of the more incidental items littering the environments. The voice acting Electronic Theatre Imagehowever, is commendable throughout. There are few characters in Killzone: Shadow Fall that you’ll care about, but those that you do are ultimately due to the portrayal by their actors more than their on-screen presentation.

To put it bluntly, Killzone: Shadow Fall is a grand disappointment. It’s a videogame that has been designed with the intention of filling a void and has not been given any room to grow outside of that most basic need. Whether it was a case of limited time, finance or developer ambition, Killzone: Shadow Fall has ended up being another launch title that looks pretty but plays as a very generic FPS videogame. There are many that will be wowed by the visual and aural quality alone, but gamers looking for substance in their next-generation investment need look elsewhere.

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