If there’s anything gamers like to do, its shooting Nazis. Or shooting Nazi Zombies. Or shooting space Nazis. I think we’re all in agreement that Killzone’s Helghast are basically the Fuhrer’s wet dream. Killzone would probably be his favourite game if he could turn the tables.
Developer: Geurilla Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Avg Game Length: 7 hours for campaign. MP is expansive and in depth.
It’s fair to say, there was a lot of hype and expectation from this game prior to release. Sony just loved to shove its glorious colour filled images in our faces any expo they could. Hell, I was taken in too. I mean, look at it. Its freaking gorgeous. It is actually the best looking game I have ever played in my career as a gamer. Yes I have played Crysis on full settings on a PC and yes, in my humble opinion, it looks even better than that. Not once did I spot any screen tearing or frame rate drops. After all the marketing, the pre – release hype etc etc, did Killzone: Shadowfall actually turn out to be any good? Or did it just end up as a glorified tech demo to sell PS4 systems?
A Great New Direction, Poorly Told
Firstly, the campaign of Killzone:SF is an interesting enough premise. What we must remember is that this was one of the first next-gen titles to grace us, so the focus would likely have been on graphics and a broadening of the gameplay experience. Actually, more than likely as it turns out the campaign consists of a totally political premise that had a lot of potential for intrigue. Maybe even a new aesthetic direction for the franchise. Alas, it comes short and ends up focusing on all the wrong elements of this political system we’ve found ourselves in.
So, the story here takes place some decades after the end of Killzone 3 where the surviving Helghast have begrudgingly accepted an offer to live on the other side of a huge wall on Vekta, supposedly safely cordoned off from the humans – the people responsible for the destruction of their planet. On top of that, you play as Lucas Kellan, who’s adopted father father is also in charge of a military division called the Shadow Marshalls. As Kellan proceeds on undercover missions on the other side of the wall, he slowly starts to realize that the Helghast may not be the oppressors he’s been brought up to believe. In fact they are more the unwilling victims of circumstance and Kellan finds himself questioning his principals.
Poorly Told, But Fun To Play Nonetheless
This is all juicy stuff that, honestly, is in the game. The way it is all presented to us, on the other hand, is not so top notch and exposition of plot and character depth could have been worked on a little harder. Suffice it to say, Kellan is a one dimensional, uninteresting character who turns out mostly to be a “yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir” kind of soldier.
What kept me playing, however, was how the campaign did such a lovely job of mixing up my environment throughout. One minute, I’d be dodging passing trains on a tramway, the next clinging onto a rope for dear life as a helicopter shot through the city. Then, flying around in space, shooting drones. The campaign was wonderfully varied and consistently delivered eye candy.
Next Gen Killzone Is Progressive But Restrained
Guerilla’s first foray into next-gen meant that a heck of a lot was expected of them and when it came to making improvements on the handling of the game, I’d say they delivered…sufficiently. They could have delivered better but they came up with a few respectable progressions from previous titles.
They have implemented a cover system that functions automatically with a contextual lean. All you have to do is crouch behind something and aim to pop out of cover. Useful. Not in previous titles, but not something that hadn’t been done before. There was also an added sense of verticality in that you could actually climb things contextually now as well as being able to make use of a rappel system to cover large amounts of ground quickly. When its time to combine these two elements, it feels great and easy to use.
Although, these scenarios came far too little and I feel Geurilla had a hard time figuring out level designs to suit these new features.
This is as good a time as any to mention the OWL. This is a drone that follows you everywhere. It can hack consoles, deploy a shield for you, stun groups of enemies and provide you with the aforementioned rappel. This opens up some great avenues for tactics in combat.
Crunchy, Punchy Believable Weaponry
Shadow Fall’s weaponry is also fantastic. It’s so nice to play around with some sci-fi weaponry that feels more real than the worn out guns of other titles. The weapons here have different sounding mechanics as they reload and feel wonderfully punchy as you lay into enemies. Again, sadly, there weren’t really enough of them.
The game also attempts to put you in stealth situations but (ahem) like Assasin’s Creed, the game just isn’t designed for stealth and you’ll end up going loud no matter how hard you may try to keep it quiet. Similar to Far Cry 3 and 4, we have knife kills that can be extended with throws. Sadly, throughout my entire playthrough, I only saw two opportunities to implement this kind of badassery.
Multiplayer That Dares To Do Its Own Thing
The strongest and most fun component of Killzone: Shadow Fall is hands down, the multiplayer modes. Killzone stands out from other multiplayer competitors because somehow, if you keep on dying, you just don’t get frustrated. I don’t quite know what it is. Perhaps it’s that spawn points are always protected by shields and one hit kill turrets, preventing spawn campers. Or perhaps its the lack of auto-aim, preventing no-scopers from taking advantage of gameplay loops. You can choose to play in one-off matches or on a larger map that will have a ‘best 3 out of 5’ system with different game modes changing up and continuing inside of the same match and with no load screens.
The class system does not reserve its best for those who happen to be good at shooters. Everything is available to you from the start and it is up to you and your level of skill to use the different weapons to good effect. This is a lovely change of pace with multiplayer setups and I commend Guerilla Studios for coming up with something of their own instead of blindly following the Call of Duty template like so many other shooters do.
So, No, It’s Just A Glorified Tech Demo After All
Killzone delivers everything a next-gen game should, strictly speaking. Once it delivers it, though, it doesn’t keep on delivering it consistently. Its like someone who goes to the gym and puts all his effort into the first set and decides to go home because he wore himself out too quickly. If you own a PS4 system, I do recommend that you give this game a try, if anything for the wonderful graphics. As I said at the start of this demo, this game is good (but not brilliant) and it does simply serve to display exactly what your system is capable of graphically.
Whatever you do, don’t buy this game at full retail price. It is worth every penny of about half retail price. After all, you’re shooting space Nazi’s – how bad could that really be?