Killzone: Shadow Fall – The Albotas Review

On a complete whim I decided to pick up a PlayStation 4 on launch day. I typically never get systems on launch day because their libraries either consist of updated ports or first party exclusives that look amazing, but are just kind of okay in terms of gameplay. Killzone: Shadow Fall fits into that second category.

AWESOME

  • The graphics. The graphics on this game are bonkers and make this game a showpiece that perfectly demonstrate what the PS4 is capable of.
  • Seamless transitions. In one level you’ll go from being flown into a beautiful futuristic city on an aircraft, to that city being reduced to burning rubble while all heck breaks loose, to being flown across the city to a railway transit system in the sky. It’s all done in a very seamless way and loading screens are disguised as dialogue sequences when flying from one place to another.
  • Level design. These levels are HUGE. There’s futuristic ghetto slums reminiscent of Blade Runner which absurdly tall steel towers and neon lights reflecting on the wet streets. There’s apocalyptic desert wastelands where decaying stone buildings lay collapsed while the sun casts lens blooms every which way. I kind of want an “Art of Killzone: Shadow Fall” book.
  • The OWL Drone. This is a little flying robot dude that you control with the PS4’s all new touch pad. He has 4 modes: shoot things, hack things/EMP things, turn into a shield, or turn into a zipline. It’s sort of a gimmick, but it helps spice up the stale run-of-the-mill FPS formula.
  • The less FPS-y parts. For a mediocre FPS, this game deserves some credit for trying to mix things up with stealth, anti-gravity parts (one was a particularly challenging escort mission of sorts), summoning giant flying robot things to kill waves of enemies, hacking/controlling robot spiders, and ordering an unkillable sniper with unlimited ammo to take dudes out while you sneak around and get shit done.
  • After the credits. There’s a mid-credits mission that I really wanted more of. Rather than play the main protagonist, you play a completely different character with a different set of skills. It’s a stealth mission where your objective is to assassinate someone, but first you need to go around disabling security cameras. A whole game of just that with a little generic FPS action probably would have been way more enjoyable, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of DLC expanding on the concept was made available at some point.

NOT AWESOME

  • Forgettable story. I seriously barely remember what it was about. The Vektans are the good guys and they let the Hellghast live on their planet after they messed up the Hellghast planet in Killzone 3, but they’re both still at war for some reason.
  • The falling parts. There are a few chapters that have you navigate while falling. You will die numerous times. Not because these sequences are hard, but because the controls for them are terrible.
  • The text is absurdly small. Even on my 47” flatscreen I have to get up from my sofa to read mission objectives. I felt like I needed binoculars.
  • Multiplayer leaves a bit to be desired. Where to even begin. The walls in almost every level are the shame shade of metallic grey as the character models, so it’s almost impossible to see anyone, not all multiplayer modes and loadouts are made available from the start and it’s unclear how to unlock them, and some of the levels simply seem more like terrain than actual well-though-out levels for a multplayer FPS.

VERDICT

As a tech demo to show off the power of the PS4 to your friends, Killzone: Shadow Fall is amazing, however, while it may have gorgeous next gen graphics and gimmicky-but-fun next gen controls, it fails to deliver next gen storytelling or next gen gameplay. It isn’t a terrible game by any stretch, but it isn’t remarkable either, just solid. If you own a shiny new PS4 and want to be blown away by some top-notch visuals, this game is quite the spectacle to behold.