Review: Killzone: Shadow Fall

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Killzone as a franchise has always had lofty expectations. The first game released for PS2 was billed as Sony’s “Halo killer” and failed to punch it in the face. Killzone 2 was shown off at E3 in an infamous video to show off the power of the PS3 which led people to call foul saying that it was an all-CGI trailer that no game could ever look like. When the game released it did look incredible but never as great as the E3 presentation looked.

Now Sony is here with a powerhouse console and they have called on Guerrilla once again to craft a showcase game that will wow people when they plug in their Playstation 4 for the first time. While they succeed with the visuals and controls the rest of the game falls into the same trappings of almost every other FPS out there and for someone that enjoys the Killzone franchise it disappoints me with what could have been with some more forward thinking.

The game begins some thirty years after the events of Killzone 3 where the planet of Helghan was destroyed by the Petrusite that the Helghast intended to use on Vekta. Since then the planet of Vekta has been split in two with one half consisting of the Vektan population and the other half the leftover remains of the Helghast. Right off the bat you get a Germanic vibe because the planet is separated by a massive wall that can only hope to keep hostilities at bay. You play as Lucas Kellan, a Shadow Marshal that, as a young child, saw his father murdered by the Helghast as they were attempting to make their way to the Vektan side during the planetwide split. This internal drama adds a bit more depth to the story which has always been on a worldwide scale but now you have more of a personal attachment to the conflict as the story moves forward.

Right off the bat you will notice how beautiful Killzone: Shadow Fall looks. The first time you see the brightly colored hues you will wonder if you are playing a Killzone title. Buildings are giant and sheen from the reflections of millions of glass plates, mountainsides are covered with foliage and waterfalls that you will spend a few extra minutes admiring before you remember you are here to murder hundreds of enemies. The first third of the game is truly a showcase for what first-person shooters will be offering us in the looks department. After that it sadly goes back into “Killzone mode” with more drab greys and blacks mixed with orange which is still beautiful but takes away from the graphic euphoria you felt when you began the game.


You will notice in combat that you move a lot faster than previous Killzone’s. You normally felt like you were moving at a slow pace because of the armor you wore but now Guerrilla has taken the weight away and you can move quickly and more freely. Weapons are the normal mix of Vektan and Helghan artillery and few, if any, distinguish themselves as special. The real different aspect of your toys comes in the form of the OWL. This is your small attack drone that you control with the touch pad on the Dualshock 4 controller. Swiping different directions on the pad and hitting L1 will tell your OWL to do various actions including attacking enemies, creating a shield to protect you and even throw out a zipline to access out of reach areas. It is a smart use of the touchpad that feels integral to the gameplay and not gimmicky. This is how the Dualshock 4 should be used.

Once you get past the initial wave of eye porn visually, Killzone begins to show that it is still caught in the memories of previous installments. The story, while a nice change of pace with the time change, is hurt by voice acting that goes from barely decent to forehead slapping bad. It hurts especially when your leading character sounds like he is reading off a cue card in a studio on a day that he had way more important things to do than this. Imagine Channing Tatum reciting All Quiet on the Western Front.

Missions begin well with surprisingly wide open areas in daylight lit areas giving you multiple ways to take on enemies. This soon is abandoned for more enclosed spaces and corridor shooting in the more muted Helghan side of the planet. When you begin to get in the later third of the game you will grow tiresome of the FPS staple “we have to hold this position until waves of enemies decide to stop coming”. So much good that is built up that crashes very quickly. If Guerrilla had just kept going with the ideas that impress you in the first few hours this could have been an exceptional gaming experience.


Guerrilla has taken a different approach when it comes to multiplayer. There is no experience system to keep up with. You begin with all abilities and weapons open from the very beginning meaning that you can select any possible loadout you want giving everyone equal footing when they begin a match. There are three classes to choose from and you have to complete certain tasks to gain new ranks. There are 10 maps and the Warzone will let you set your own set of match types, rules and more then share your creation online for all to partake in. The no XP approach is different and should open up the game’s multiplayer to gamers who do not feel comfortable getting involved in the Call of Duty’s or Battlefield’s.

After all the smoke has cleared and hundreds of Helghast have fallen by your hands has Guerrilla delivered a system seller? Maybe not a system seller but definitely a system showcase that you can admire for the beautiful graphics and good touchpad controls but what starts as an example of what next-gen shooters should be comes back down to Earth with token FPS attractions and lazy voice acting. If you are going to show off your new PS4 to your friends make sure to do it early in the campaign. Maybe Guerrilla can capture the early magic of Killzone: Shadow Fall and make an entire game like that next go round.






One response to “Review: Killzone: Shadow Fall”

  1. […] now, we are assuming you have been done with Killzone: Shadow Fall for some time and have been awaiting Sony’s next first-party title for the […]

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