Shadow Fall is the sixth instalment in the Killzone franchise, brought to us by Guerilla Games, and while it may not be the greatest game that the team could have produced, they have taken a lot of feedback from previous titles and made the best game in the series.
In the single player you take on the role as Lucas Kellan, Shadow Marshall for the Vektans. If you don’t know your Killzone lore, they are the good guys… kinda… After nuking the living hell out of the Helgan home planet at the end of Killzone 3, the Vektans decide to let the Helgast who survived to have half of their homeworld. Because, you know, that’s the thing that makes the most sense. Some years later and, surprise surprise, some rogue Helgast decide they don’t like living beside their mortal enemies and decide to start to attacking.
Insert Kellan, who goes back and forward across the wall that separates the two halves of Vekta fighting the Helgast threat. Take a pinch of rogue soldiers, some maniacal matriarch and the impending threat of genocide and you have a solid story that does well to frame the action sequences but, at the end of the day, does not really matter and can, for the most part, be ignored.
The biggest achievement of Killzone: Shadow Fall is the stunning visuals and art design. At almost every moment the game is gorgeous. Much of the title is full of bright colours – a design choice that is incredibly far removed from it’s predecessors. Even the indoor levels, which account for maybe 40 percent of the 12 hours campaign, look visually beautiful. The graphics and art place this latest Killzone far above it’s first person shooter contemporaries as recent titles like Battlefield 4 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts are either just plain ugly or visually uninteresting. It’s a shame the sound design does not impress on the same level.
The moment to moment gameplay also pushes Killzone above of other entries in the FPS genre as well. Rather than just corridor upon corridor and endless waves of respawning bad guys, Shadow Fall gives you open-ended areas with multiple objectives and patrolling enemies. It allows the player more freedom in the way they take on single objectives and entire missions. However, this can be to the games detriment. While I appreciated the liberty I was granted, I did, multiple times throughout the story, end up wandering around looking for the smallest hint at what button to press in order to continue.
I would be amiss if I didn’t quickly talk about the apparent shoehorning in of the Dualshock 4 gimmicks. Except, they do not feel shoved in for the sake of it. The light bar on the Dualshock changes colour from green all the way down to red, depending on the status of your health. Sometimes handy but rarely used. The clicky touchpad on the Dualshock is used far more often and to much greater effect. Swiping in different directions gives you various types of control over your Owl. A drone fella who follows you around until you press the L1 button to tell it to attack, stun, hack, create a shield or a zipline. It’s incredibly handy and can get you out of a bad situation in a pinch.
Shadow Fall’s multiplayer experience is also pretty damn fun. While it’s not the dizzying heights that Battlefield 4 has with 64 player mayhem, 24 player matches are fast paced and explosive affairs. Classic Warzone is my preferred gametype, offering plenty of multiplayer game styles in one long team battle. You’ll play through capture the flag, map domination and an assault mode in all but name, in the one streamlined battle. You also have the option of creating Custom Warzone, which allows for a more customised multiplayer experience by limiting player options or setting modes and maps.
Killzone also proves how amazing the next generation can be. As it’s the start of the lifecycle, it’s obvious that the Playstation 4 is in no way pushed to its limits and the game still runs at a perfect 60 frames a second and a stunning 1080p.
Launch line ups are, more often than not, rather disappointing and Shadow Fall is in some places. However, much of the time the experience is far more positive than negative. It is still not the Halo Killer that PS fans originally sort it out to be, but it is the best entry in the Killzone franchise and probably the First Person Shooter out at the moment.