Review: Killzone Shadow Fall

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Set on the planet Vekta, some 30 years after the events of The Second Extrasolar War (Killzone 3). The conflicting factions of the Vektans and Helghast must co-exist in a somewhat cold war scenario. After the decimation of the planet Helga, Vekta allowed Helghan refugees to find shelter on their planet. This is where our story begins, as Lucas Kellan, you witness the horrific transition of the Helghan arrival, the event triggers Kellan’s motivation to join the Vektans peace keeping force and counter terrorism, the Shadow Marshalls. As one of the best Shadow Marshalls there is you must preserve the Vektan way of life, and this is where your story begins.

Guerrilla Games have done an absolutely amazing job with the graphical presentation of Killzone Shadow Fall. All their previous games have been masterful, but this game takes it to an all new level with the power of the PS4. Worlds are created without flaw. Lighting textures and particle systems are brilliant, adding even greater depth to their already stunning locations. Unlike previous entries which are known for their darker colour palette and tone, Shadow Fall takes a step in a different direction. Lush forests and the bustling cities of planet Vekta, will certainly take your breath away when you get a moment to reflect on the sheer beauty of these worlds. Running close to 60 frames per second most of the time and a full 1080p in both single and multiplayer, your eyes are sure to be pleased.

Whilst no pre-rendered computer generated cut scenes are present you are treated to a skilful display of the storytelling segments all being displayed in game. Unfortunately, these segments are where the game starts to fall apart with some uninspired voice acting, particularly from your Commanding Officer. Progression through the story can become somewhat exhausting when gaining instruction from your C.O. Luckily though this is the worst of it with remaining voice cast portraying more fluid and natural performances. Kellan portrays much more of a bridge between player and game, saying the absolute minimum to allow the player to connect on a stronger level.

The soundtrack does the required job but it feels lacklustre in comparison to previous soundtracks from Joris de Man, failing to strike those emotive chords fans have become accustomed too.  Collectors will find reward in straying away from the beaten paths of the campaign, finding intricate items such as Intel, dossier, a fully-fledged comic book series and audio logs. Upon collection of the audio log the mono speaker of the dual shock 4 will begin to play the found file, a charming and excellent “outside the box” experience.

Right from the confronting and emotional first mission, you will find cause to see the 10 mission campaign to completion. Killzone offers the player a staple diet of the two gun carry system; however, what I find to be an odd design choice is that you are forced to always carry the Shadow Marshall’s weapon. An assault rifle that fires in short and long ranges (upon controller input selection). Being forced to consistently carry this weapon just makes matters complicated as I found ammunition to be in short supply at particular points.

Other varieties of guns are available to be collected and used as you see fit, ranging from pistols, assault rifles, shotguns and sniper rifles, just to name a few. Shadow Fall introduces new weapons to the series as well as the continuation of previous guns to the series. Utilizing the weaponry against the opposing Helghast is a tight, responsive and pleasurable experience; a trait Guerrilla Games has become renown for.  Gunfights and battles are questionable within this game, whilst most engagements usually encounter 3-4 enemies, in a tight and solid experience. These battles tend to be considerably spaced out leaving the player feeling extracted from the amazing world created. I should note however that the A.I is considerably doughy and dim-witted; I encountered numerous enemies performing irregular actions, one example being during a gunfight at heights, one enemy actually ran off the world trying to get an advantage over me which ended in his demise.

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Guerrilla Games have taken a bit of a broader approach to their mission structure. Rather than the usual corridor, shifting down a path to get from A to B, Shadow Fall introduces a much more broader/open approach. Sure you are still going from A to B but now you have the luxury of variety. You can take a stealth approach or the more upfront approach. The best tool for whatever decision you make is your OWL, your companion drone throughout your missions. Utilizing the touch pad of the Dual shock 4 you can order it to attack enemies on your behalf, stun them, lay down a stationary Nano shield wall or order it to zip line you over valleys and from heights. The OWL isn’t just part of your arsenal but your equal partner. Utilizing the OWL’s aid will be crucial to your success, especially when it’s most useful feature comes into play; the ability to revive you when your battle becomes overwhelming. Provided you have an adrenaline pack handy you are eligible to battle on.

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Multiplayer is excellent, a fact I cannot stress this enough. I have never been one to participate in extreme amounts of online multiplayer, particularly from a first person shooter, but this game changed that trend for me, which is a big deal. The maps are great, offering lots of variety in size and scope. Match finding is quick and painless. There is also a challenge system that will have players toiling over for hours. With users able to create and share their own matches titled “Warzones” and the promise of more maps to arrive. The variety is certainly going to keep gamers investing their time.

Remote play does its job absolutely fantastically. To be honest, I expected the visuals during remote play to take a drastic nose dive. Thinking the PS4 would struggle to share the finer details with its paired Vita. I was extremely surprised and excited to find that I was incorrect. I even think the Vita portrayed colour density better than my TV counterpart. The game play handles well but obviously not as fluid for movements and actions, lacking the L3,R3 and L1 and R2 on the Vita is transported to four sections of the rear touchscreen. They do work, its just that some players may not find it to be comfortable or able to play for long periods of time.

As everyone has come to expect, Guerrilla Games have created a graphically flawless game but it does come with other various issues. For instance, the enemy encounters that are spaced too far apart or even some of the unnecessary platform segments being introduced add on top to the eventuating dull narrative. What reconciles these issues is that the tight responsive gunplay, and the guns themselves are excellent, outshone only by the even better multiplayer experience to be had. The addition of the OWL also adds to the fantastic game play experience, setting a new bar for companion AIs in games.

Shadow Fall is the perfect game to introduce the world to the raw power that the PS4 has to offer and the pick of the shooters for the next generation launch for me. It is an absolute blast laying waste to the red eyed Helghan, and although it’s a continuation of the Killzone universe, it is still an excellent starting point for new comers.