KillZone: Shadow Fall (PS4) Review

| Published Date
16 - Jan - 2014
| Last Updated
16 - Jan - 2014
 
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KillZone: Shadow Fall (PS4)

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KillZone: Shadow Fall undeniably offers deeper and more tactical freedom than any other KillZone title has in the past, though its story is quite anaemic.

KillZone: Shadow Fall (PS4) Rating 0100100

Our Verdict

KillZone: Shadow Fall has the tech prowess, crunchy single player campaign, even character movement is seamless, and at 60 fps it has some ridiculously good lighting effects. However, it lacks the craft you expect in a next gen AAA launch title even though you will enjoy the action packed visually stimulating campaign and multiplayer. In the end, Shadow Fall does really well in showing off that we have indeed stepped into an era of next gen gaming.

PROS

  • Staggering graphics
  • Crunchy single player campaign
  • Character movement is flawless
  • New gameplay mechanics

CONS

  • Unimpressive story
  • Facial animations are very stiff
  • Lacks multiplayer options

KillZone: Shadow Fall (PS4): Detailed Review

Guerilla Games could have rejuvenated the KillZone saga with PS4's exclusive launch title KillZone: Shadow Fall, breaking the mould and bringing their best ever KillZone game to date, all in time for the new PS4. KillZone: Shadow Fall undeniably offers deeper and more tactical freedom than any other KillZone title has in the past, though its story is quite anaemic and not something that will stick to your memory. No doubt it has the technology, an engaging single player campaign, looks great in terms depth of scale. However, the game lacks the craft that you see in a polished tactical shooter.

STORY

KillZone: Shadow Fall does not follow the same pattern that we saw in its predecessors. Following the Petrusite detonation that left the planet Helghan in ashes in KillZone 3, the Vetkans grant refuge to Helghast survivors on the planet Vetka, allowing them to inhabit half the planet. The only thing that now divides the two halves is a massive structure known as The Wall that separates the two civilizations from each other. However, this time around, the story leans more towards political conflict and deception.

The opening cut scene sets a consistent tone for the game, swapping an all out war approach for a tense and intriguing plot line. As we saw with its predecessors, the KillZone trilogy has so far been a rather straight take on war. You play as Lucas Kellen, an ISA shadow marshal who is a both a spy and a super soldier. The story line tries to explore struggles and dogmas of the ongoing struggle between Helgans and Vetkans, and expose the ISA's bureaucratic double standards and the Helghans' cruelty.

While the story takes a subtle approach in the beginning, later on it messes up by relying on overblown action. Shadow Fall's story line lacks finesse and it's frustrating that it could not capitalize on the interesting themes it explored in the beginning. 

GRAPHICS

A flagship launch title for a next gen console can be make or break moment for a game developer and can even determine how successful the console is. To its credit Guerilla games has delivered. It's a game that can show off how much more crisp and detailed the PS4's graphics are compared to what we have seen in the past. Shadow Fall has some staggering lighting effects and surreal open-world environments. Running at 1080p Shadow Fall looks gorgeous and it is a great looking game in terms of scale.


Shadow Fall is one hell of a looker!!

Apart from the facial animations that do appear a bit stiff, and a few other visual inconsistencies, there weren’t any real flaws and for the most part Shadow Fall is certainly a looker. Guerrilla has exploited what the PS4 is capable of and Shadow Fall is packed with next-gen touches. Right at the start, Guerrilla throws in an opening cut scene that shows off the high level of detail of what looks like millions of futuristic skyscrapers glistening in the sunlight just for the sake of showing off. It's something that you can only see on a PS4.

GAMEPLAY

In Shadow Fall, instead of going against waves of Helghans, the fights are much smaller and quieter, though you won't come across Helghans who chill behind cover only to pop up occasionally. Instead they try to flank you from all directions forcing you to move out of your cover and think tactically. You will most likely die frequently because of enemies you don't even know are there. The lack of any radar or mini maps makes it much harder.

On the other hand, you have the Owl Drone. The owl drone is a friendly attack drone that you can command via the DualShock 4 touchpad by sliding on it in four directions. It can be used in four modes – attack mode, zipline mode, shield mode and EMP mode. The owl eventually helps create some good distractions and provides useful cover fire to screw up your enemies' tactics. However, this reliance on the touchpad is a bit annoying at times as the d-pad offers more finesse and accuracy. Instead, the d-pad is used for some other functions.


OWL drones were in Killzone: Mercenary, but they were nothing like this....

Anyway coming back to gameplay, the missions in Shadow Fall are usually based around the main protagonist Lucas Kellen embarking on a series of covert operations. Shadow Fall is far more open than any of its predecessors and offers everything from corridors to vast open spaces. Speaking of which, the first area in the game is so large that in the beginning you are bound to get lost so that you can fiddle around with new gameplay mechanics and soak in the situation. 

Melee attacks are fun to perform and have been vastly improved but still aren't perfect. You can take out two Helghans in one attack, however it eventually always ends up in chaos and screaming. It seems Guerrilla wanted to offer a way to play the game stealthily, something it just hasn't been able to deliver. There's no doubt melee attacks are very sharp and swift but the game just does not follow through on that idea. Often, immediately after you try to sneakily attack someone, you are thrust open before a large pool of enemies that makes stealth useless. 

With Shadow Fall, the KillZone franchise has gone beyond mere running and gunning. New elements such as how you deploy your OWL drone become key aspects of gameplay. Your on-screen avatar now also has an echo scanner in his kit which you can use to highlight nearby enemies.

Though Shadow Fall's weapons options are a bit limited, it isn't all that bad. There are periods when you come across chains-guns and electrically charged weapons. And not to forget the new controller that feels so good for shooting that I think its time to say goodbye to my DualShock3.

The various stages are well laid out, power packed and thoroughly challenging, and at times full of surprises. You journey from open-world battles in forests to battles beneath towering skyscrapers, going against tiny automated robots to colossal sentinels. The gun fights are really zippy and action oriented. The character movement is absolutely flawless and during the gameplay I seldom encountered any dull moments. Just massive power packed gunfights.

MULTIPLAYER

Well, if the single player campaign does not quench your thirst, Shadow Fall's multiplayer offers ten maps that are very well crafted and diverse and you'll never feel like any of the settings are monotonous. The mulitplayer mode does look more refined compared to KillZone 3 which was utter crap. Shadow Fall marks the return of the class style of play, though it is much more refined and deep. All in all there are three classes – Scout, Assault and Support. Each class has a permanent primary ability and a secondary ability that can be chosen.


Team Vetka in multiplayer mode...

Scouts – The primary abilities of this class is sniping and counter sniping. With their primary abilities they are required to mark enemies within a specific radius, while secondary abilities include cloaking, emergency teleport or a stun drone that stuns enemies after it explodes. These guys provide long range cover fire and can be deployed to sneak past enemies to accomplish mission objectives.

The emergency teleport, that allows you to teleport you to a safe location near your allies, is a really cool feature and comes in real handy when enemies close in. The stun drone helps you slow down a hoard of enemies charging at you, rendering them unconscious for a limited duration while you sneak your way past. The Scout is for those who like a more tactical stealth approach and want the rush when performing brutal melee kills on enemies who have no idea what’s coming their way.


Assault – These are for the ones who usually like to take charge and have an arsenal of weapons that are perfect to get into action right away.

Their primary ability is the shield which reduces the impact of enemy fire. As for their secondary abilities, you can either choose speed dash (boosts movement), stun blast (a small blast that blinds and slows down oncoming enemies enemies within its range) and a buddy drone (programmed to shoot at enemies and follows you around).The primary ability is for ground warriors who will take charge in a battle at all times.

Support – This class has tactically more advantages than the other two. Their primary ability is to revive, which is undeniably a very crucial aspect in a firefight. As far as their secondary abilities are concerned, players can choose turrets to provide cover fire, deploy aerial drones for air support and last but not the least, spawn beacons. This is very crucial aspect with regards to the outcome of a match as they provide alternate spawn points. Alternate spawn bases can be deployed anywhere in a map. Spawns can be placed anywhere near targets to get a tactical advantage to get out of tight situations.

Unlike what we saw in the KillZone: Trilogy, Guerrilla games have parted ways with the XP system, instead we now have a new progress system based on challenges. Like in most multiplayer games, unlocks are based on ranks. There are elements of Battlefield as your style of play determines which weapons will be unlocked. For instance if you are a scout, you'll be unlocking weapons towards that class.

However, Guerrilla has scrapped the old school military style ranking and now the amount of challenges you compete represents your rank. So, for instance, if you have completed say 450 challenges, you rank will be 450. There is a huge amount of replay value, considering the fact that completing challenges not only unlocks weapons, but also new items along with new emblems.

GAME MODES

Shadow Fall offers the classic warzone mode we saw in previous KillZone titles, and some other modes as well. A Warzone game goes through a cycle of 5 different type of game modes namely – Team DeathMatch, Capture the Flag, Search and Destroy and finally capture and hold. This was my personal favourite as a match can last for more than 20 minutes and the rotation of game modes keeps things from getting repetitive and monotonous.

Custom Maps

Shadow Fall basically allows you customize anything, from your standard warzones to hardcore game modes where ammo and health options are limited. There are no restrictions in custom lobbies, if you want to create a game with only melee attacks, like knife only, then yes, you are free to go ahead and create your own customized lobby.

However a few things that Shadow Fall lacks in multiplayer is the lack of adequate game modes. It also lacks basic features such as squads, clans and even in-game mic functionality. Also, it is usually hard to figure out allies as there are no colour highlights provided. Hopefully these will be implemented in the near future, after all, these are core features that we saw in past KillZone games. Overall, Killzone: Shadow Fall multiplayer offers a rather impressive package that’ll continue to get support for many months to come with free maps on the way, and a reasonably priced Season Pass. At the time of writing this, new free KillZone multiplayer maps were announced, inspired by strategic locations in the single player campaign.

First up 'The Cruiser', is a close-mid range combat map, set in the vicinity of a decommissioned ISA cruiser. Next up is 'The Hangar', a wide open world map located in the hangar bay of Helghan's massive mining fields. I have to say that Shadow Fall's multiplayer is worth a shot, KillZone veterans of the past games will no doubt be impressed by this iteration. No doubt, Guerrilla Games still has a lot to work to do in terms of improvements but it still remains thoroughly addictive.


FINAL TAKE

All in all, KillZone: Shadow Fall's campaign does inject a sense of novelty and is certainly a step up for the franchise. In terms of gameplay, Shadow Fall does not offer something you haven't experienced before in more polished shooters out there. Even the story lacks punch and does not live up to its potential.

It's a game that can show off the impeccable and crisp graphics the PS4 is capable of rendering. Though Guerrilla has tried to stir things around, it's not enough to make Shadow Fall a unique experience. However, Shadow Fall is a game that every PS4 owner should own as it shows off what the next-gen of games have in store for us.

Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Guerrilla Games'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 

 

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