Killzone was one of the hottest games for the PlayStation 2, and the epic sequel that was Killzone 2 followed it with a great force. The series had a slow, gritty and powerful vibe that is a far cry from the frantic run and gun of games like Call of Duty and I absolutely love it. The Third entry in the series came on the PlayStation 3, a graphical juggernaut and it offered some brutal gameplay and hardcore online play, however I didn’t really love the game and it fell into many of the typical tropes that most of last generations shooter did, as a result it just didn’t excite me and I didn’t really feel compelled to keep playing.
Shadow fall is a launch title for the PlayStation 4, so it has great potential to be a system seller for Sony and it also has a lot to prove given the track record of the previous titles in the series. There are many highly popular shooters on the market today and with Killzone not following the yearly update release schedule that many other companies follow, there was a fear that it could have fallen out of favour with much of the gaming community.
The first trailers we saw of Killzone: Shadow Fall were when the PlayStation 4 was revealed and without a doubt there were a lot of impressed gamers, the graphics looked stunning, the action looked tight and the heavy duty futuristic vibe had been ramped up to 11. The Helghast now live along side you, divided by a giant, heavily guarded wall that divides the two nations. One living in futuristic luxury while the Helgast live in what is effectively a military controlled, dim, poor, hell hole.
Story wise the game holds up pretty tight, but it takes time for you to care about what is happening. There is a steady intro where you play out a few events from your youth, growing up to be a man who has been moulded into a soldier following the death of his father, leaving him an orphan. It’s pretty typical tripe to be honest and I didn’t care for the intro story one bit. However, things do develop very well and the twist of not always feeling like a one man killing machine is a big factor here. In many parts of the game you’re missing vital tools and weapons, especially in a section that involves escaping prison. You make some interesting allies throughout the game too and one in particular changes the whole pace of combat by having you rely on her sniping skill to do the shooting, while you focus on stealth and highlighting targets for her to take down. The pace is sometimes broken by some forced in QTE’s, that are tacked on to otherwise great cut-scenes, but overall the gameplay is involving and enjoyable.
What at some points feels like another Halo / Call of Duty clone quickly defines its self as something fresh altogether, running into this game head-on will likely get your head shot off. You have to be calculated, use your tactical abilities to scan for enemies before moving, use your side kick drone to take out enemies while you stay behind cover and my favourite, the ability to fire a zip-line and descend onto or off of the battlefield in a hurry.
Enemies are relatively smart, they don’t stop to think about flanking you, breaking off into groups, searching thoroughly for you, and they’ve fast as lightening when it comes to tripping alarms. The alarms are your worst nightmare, they alert all enemies in the area once triggered, you need to hack them to disable them fast as enemies will come to defend the area endlessly until you do.
Graphics are gorgeous, actually that’s an understatement, they’re absolutely stunning! Particle effects, dynamic lighting that catches the rain and the fog as it descends onto the metallic surfaces of a gorgeous dystopian city, and beautifully detailed enemies that move fluidly during combat. It’s easily one of the best looking shooters on the market today and it certainly gives Battlefield 4 a run for its money as this is one of the best looking launch titles for the PlayStation 4. The art style is absolutely flawless and it really reaps the benefits of a powerful lighting engine.
Enemies aren’t too varied but there is a good mixture of combat styles as you come up against melee and long range attacks, there are even some huge spider like robots to contend with from time to time that will end you in seconds if you’re not careful. There aren’t many overly huge gun battles either, it’s not like Call of Duty or Borderlands where you feel like you’re in a room while enemies take their turns to pile through the door. Things feel more naturally paced than that and encounters don’t just feel like they’ve been beefed up for the sake of making it more exciting, but that doesn’t mean the game is any less fun, it just doesn’t feel like a meat grinder. Difficulty is a big factor here too, this game is pretty darn hard at first. I’m a well seasoned gamer and certainly found my self re-spawning a lot early on in the game. It takes a while to get used to using the Dual Shock 4 touch pad to switch between abilities and then remembering to use them. For the bulk of the game you and your drone are a team and you will be dead pretty quick if you don’t utilise its full abilities to provide you with offensive and defensive backup.
Multi-player is great fun too, reminded me in no small part of the pace of Halo 3, it’s surprisingly tactical, but still packs enough action for you to keep moving and trying your luck on catching someone off guard. The game types are your usual fair, but if you’ve spent 9-10 hours picking your way through the main story first, then I can guarantee you’ll be wanting more and the multi-player aspect obviously offers more of the same challenging action. If you like shooters and you’re needing a break from the heavily commercialised worlds of Battlefield and Call of Duty, then this is easily an essential purchase for the PS4.
- Campaign offers great story and a good 9-10 hours gameplay on normal difficulty
- Graphics are some of the best the PS4 has to offer
- Online multiplayer is competitive and entertaining
- Good integrated use of the touch pad
- Quick time events are dull and tacked on
- Steep learning curve may put off some players
“Killzone is back on form this year with what is easily one of 2013’s best shooters. It’s still a little linear, but a great setting and story, some tight action and a rewarding multiplayer experience help it stand out from the crowd.”
Thank you Sony for providing us with this sample.