PS4 Review: Killzone: Shadow Fall

Should this shadow rise or fall?

The Killzone series has had its share of mixed fortunes, the original wasn’t the big hit that most hoped it would be, 2 was decent but never lived up to the hype of the original reveal while Killzone 3 hit its stride but was held back by the limitations of Playstation Move. Now the series enters its 4th title with Shadow Fall and to add extra pressure…it’s a PS4 launch title!
Shadow Fall is set some 30 years after the original trilogy and even though it features nods to its past, it’s not directly connected to it so newcomers and fans will both be on the same page. The Helghast’s home planet was destroyed at the end of Killzone 3 and have sought refuge on the planet of Vekta with the people who destroyed it but divided by a great wall and both sides are in a Cold War stalemate. You play as a Shadow Marshall with the job of keeping the peace, but you also have a vendetta against the Helghast to boot…

The campaign itself is thought provoking and well executed; it’s definitely one of the most memorable plots in an FPS lately (with the exception of BioShock Infinite) and is gripping from start to finish. In it, you are given a robot companion called OWL that you can give orders to with a swipe across the DualShock 4’s touchpad and these include attacking a group of enemies, hacking alarms, putting up a shield for you and to deploy a zipline, but after its selected you need to tap L1 to use it, I liked the idea of using the touchpad for the OWL but would have liked something a bit more innovative than essentially using it as a secondary d-pad.

Weapon variety is decent and all pack a good punch, you can also descend on enemies from above to do a finishing move with your knife and if you are looking directly at another enemy, clicking R3 will throw another knife at them but it can be awkward and clunky to pull off. The visuals really show what the PS4 is capable of and it is very impressive to see in motion, screenshots really don’t do it justice. Everything from facial animation to the lighting and draw distance is truly breathtaking.
If there’s a complaint to be made about the game itself, it’s that the AI is far from smart, bordering on dumb at times and the story has some issues, and even though I enjoyed it I can see the flaws in it. Multiplayer is a great improvement but only has 10 maps at launch with more to be added for free later and others as DLC. There are now only 3 classes to choose from, Scout, Assault and Support and a total of 22 weapons to select and a variety of different game modes to choose from.

Voice-acting is brilliant and features David Harewood from Homeland as VSA Director Sinclair who pulls off a great performance. The music is also brilliantly well executed and matches the atmosphere and tension of the game’s set pieces.

The Verdict

As a launch title, Killzone Shadow Fall is a pretty damn impressive one. It has superb visuals that show off just what the hardware is capable of, a decent campaign that is only let down by some poor AI and addictive multiplayer that will keep you coming back for more and with DLC on the way, you’ll be sure to do so.