If you’re reading this, chances are you’re considering your options for a PlayStation 4 launch game. Killzone: Shadow Fall by Guerrilla Games is what you could call a typical Sci-Fi, first-person shooter. It’s got all the elements that make up a great game, but it falls just short of being truly amazing.
The campaign of Killzone: Shadow Fall puts you in the boots of Lucas Kellan amidst a longstanding conflict between the Vektans and the Helghast. If you’ve never played a Killzone title before, there’s no need to worry; the game does a good job of relaying a narrative that’s not too difficult to follow anyway. The main problem is whether or not it’s actually captivating. The story never really captures you as fully as it should, which leads to a sort of bland campaign experience. That being said, certain elements of the story do stand out on their own. The audio logs that play through the DualShock 4 speaker do a lot to involve the player in a way that makes the whole experience feel more genuine. What I found to be particularly awesome about this feature was that when you use adrenaline and time seems to slow down around you, the audio from the audiolog becomes slower and more distorted.
Gameplay-wise, Shadow Fall is a much different experience than what could be found in a Call of Duty or Battlefield game. Although the story does have its problems, playing through the campaign is a lot of fun. The levels vary in difficulty and setting enough so that it’s never boring. The weapons you find and are given along the way are intuitive and they all feel powerful enough, though there is lack of traditional rifle-type weapons with longer range. Your OWL companion (a little flying robot that follows you around) is one of the greatest tools in your arsenal, and is controlled via the DualShock 4 touchpad. The OWL can do anything from stun enemies to provide a zip line for you to travel on and the touchpad integration doesn’t feel awkward at all.
Oftentimes you’ll find yourself having to strategize where you should send your OWL in relation to where the enemies are so that you can plan out encounters. Though the game never reaches levels of extreme difficulty (on normal, anyway) strategizing before a big fight will definitely save you frustration. Killzone: Shadow Fall is a tactical game by nature, running and gunning a la Call of Duty will only lead you to a rage quitting frenzy.
Speaking of rage quitting, the multiplayer in Killzone: Shadow Fall is well-built overall and fun in a different way than most other first-person shooters on the market right now. Games like Call of Duty have a certain sense of urgency in their multiplayer modes: you run out, die, and run back out again. Killzone’s more tactical playstyle leads to multiplayer that plays out at a much slower pace than I was personally used to, having played my fair share of Halo matches. It really depends on what your style as a player is, but I found the Warzones to be well-balanced and fun to play.
If you’re looking to get into the multiplayer though, be sure to have a friend join you since the game itself has no native, in-game voice chat. In order to communicate with people you’re playing with, you’ll have to form a party using the actual PlayStation interface. Though this may not seem like a huge setback, it is rather strange and the lack of a voice chat is especially felt with a launch title since not everyone has made the upgrade to a new console yet.
As with any launch game, one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind is “…but how does it look?” To sum it up, Killzone: Shadow Fall looks absolutely stunning. It’s easy to get caught up in the visuals the first time you load up the game because it truly showcases the power of the PlayStation 4 and the potential that the system has. Everything looks crisp and the lighting in particular is fantastic throughout all of the levels (I was saying “whoa light shafts” for at least 10 minutes when I first started playing it). If there’s any one element of this game that stands out the most, it’s most definitely the aesthetic appeal.
As it stands, Killzone’s foray into the next generation with Killzone: Shadow Fall is a good one. Though the game is held back by a lackluster story and certain missing features, it does deliver a fun experience and it is the only first-person shooter of its kind currently on the PlayStation 4.
[+Amazing visuals][+Enjoyable fps gameplay][+DualShock 4 integrated well][+Fun multiplayer][-Bland storyline][-No in-game multiplayer voice chat]