Killzone Shadow Fall – Review

Killzone Shadow Fall tells the story of what happens when two opposing points of view are thrown together with only a giant wall between them, and yes it goes as well as you expect it would.

Story

Taking place 30 years post the event of the Vekta  bombing the Helghasts planet with some super powerful weapon meaning that all the Helghans who were still alive afterwards now needed a place to stay. Being nice, Vekta provides space on their own planet and as you would expect, the Helghast are not that happy about having their homes destroyed and then told to move in next door to the people responsible.
Taking the role of Lucas Kellan, a Shadow Marshall, you seek to locate anyone who seeks to harm the Vektan people, by way of killing anyone who gets in the way. Part way into the story you are sent into the Helghan section of the planet to find the mastermind of a terrorist plot that blew up the office building in which you work. This is where the story takes some strange turns, and you would be remiss to think that the developers decided that the graphics were more important, and what was there would do just ok.

Gameplay

The game is the standard shooter fare, but it does add some nice features into the game that are surprisingly fun, when you can use them right. Being a modern shooter you are only allowed to carry two guns at a time and a small handful of grenades it does feel like a copout seeing as the Vektans are so advances they have Tony Stark holograms for briefings as well as the ability to override any lock with some fingers.
Thankfully as a Shadow Marshall you are allowed to use a drone for some assistance. The OWL Drone provides you with medical assistance should you be downed during battle, will take on enemies that you target, put up a shield and the coolest feature, a zip line. This is one of the greatest additions to the game, knowing that you don’t have to struggle climbing down a large sections of the level, if you can just zip line down. Enemies are smart enough to notice if you are doing this, and will take aim at you, making sure you think about it before zipping around the game.

The guns are standard fare, but each come with an alternate mode that does provide some interesting changes, with the base gun that Lucas carries going from a standard assault rifle into a sniper rifle. There are pretty cool zero gravity sections that allow you to move about in space, and while impressive, you generally don’t get to do anything past moving. There are some puzzles in the game that requires you to plug in some giant space spark plugs in order to unlock doors, start generators and a like. These change up the game enough that they don’t distract from the overall experience but also give you a break from shooting everything in sight.
The Helghast provide enough variety in how they are willing to fight this time that you don’t feel like a space marine mowing down hordes of brain dead enemies this time, but there are some issues with them still. While the standard soldiers will do what they can to strafe you and take you from the flank, there are some soldiers that have clocking abilities, and while you can see them if you look for them, they still try and flank like a normal soldier. If I was invisible to people I would not try and sneak up on them if they were looking the other way shooting away at others, I would just move towards them in a straight line.
Online the game has the same basic feel as most other shooters, but its weapon sets and game modes do set it apart. Custom Warzones feel like the assorted chocolate box we all like but as it features a random play through of each standard game mode it can be a little strange at first, trying to understand it. But once you have gotten a few rounds in, and you and your team are going from a capture the flag style match to a king of the hill to a assault mode where you need to plant bombs, all while playing the same round, it is amazingly fun.

Presentation

This is where the game shines the most, but also where it fails the most. Most people will admit that the game looks incredible and there are times when it does prove their point for them. Having the sun light burst through the walls of a ship that is being sent into the sun and showing the effects of high concentrated sunlight on metal and people is something that is so amazingly weird to watch that you might forget to move ahead with the game.
There is a mission that tasks you with moving through some forest area to locate some missing marines, and this is probably the most visually distinctive space you will find yourself walking through the entire game.  While the city of Vekta is impressive in its futuristic style, and the Helghan occupied space is almost the polar opposite in how its presented, colour wise they are nearly identical in base design. Doors are the same, windows, stairs nothing has changed since the Helghast took over; well until you descend to the lower levels which more or less resemble a shipping yard with containers stacked everywhere.
The style of the game is impressive, but seeing as the cities are presented with light and dark tones they are more or less the same, and given how the game deals with the main characters understanding of the differences between the two races, it would have been nice to see some colour changes, or at least something different done to help show how he sees the world.
There are some technical problems, which is to be expected with the launch of a new console, and while I would love to say they are not really noticeable that would not be true. Far too often I have had items pop in when in outdoor spaces, which resulted a few times with me attempting to shoot someone through a barrier they were hiding behind that I could not see. These are minor issues though, with the biggest being left to the facial animations and the lack of sync between the animation and the audio.
The cut scenes are detailed and do provide a lot of context to story, but taking your orders from a man who looks like he studied at the bag English dub voice school is so distracting I found myself starting missions and not knowing what I had to do.  But the strange thing is that this does not extend to all the characters, just a few of them.

Final Thoughts

Killzone Shadow Fall is a simple game, it provides any PS4 owner the chance to see something a little different, but maintains enough familiarity that most people will be able to play without any issues. The multiplayer can be bizarre when you first jump in, but once you understand what’s going, you will be zipping around with the OWL drone and your team mates like masters. Some minor technical problems stop this from being better than it could be, but it’s still worthy of your time.
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