by Brian Robbins
Halo, for many Playstation gamers, would seem to be an unobtainable franchise. Of course Microsoft would never port their precious baby to Sony’s consoles, but that doesn’t mean that Sony can’t make their own first person IP. In 2004, Sony decided to do just that and released Killzone. With three PS3 releases and the obligatory PSP and Vita tie-ins under it’s belt, the franchise has still never surpassed mediocrity. The mundane shooting mechanics and sloppy controls made many games of the series a pass for most consumers. With the new Playstation 4 console, can the newest iteration of Sony’s FPS franchise compete with Master Chief?
With Killzone Shadow Fall, you’ll be playing as Lucas. You’ll start his journey when he’s just five years old and escaping his home to reach another part of his home planet. Without giving too much away, you’ll be influenced to join the military to fight the good fight against the Helghast. Rising through the ranks within the appropriately named Shadow Academy, Lucas will become a Sam Fischer like special operations unit.
The highlight of the entire campaign is actually the very first mission. As Lucas you’re sent in to blow up various buildings that are crucial to the Helghast. What makes this mission so special is the open landscape much like the original Halo. You can choose what objective to go after as soon as your boots hit the ground. This mission, like the others you’ll find in Killzone Shadow Fall, is absolutely gorgeous. The way the trees sway and the light beams through the trees will make you glad you have a next generation console.
Unfortunately, after that very first mission, the rest of the campaign falls flat. With enough action movie clichés to make your eyes roll, Killzone Shadow Fall is essentially a video game version of a Michael Bay movie. Depending on what you think of that statement may ultimately sway your opinion about the game, but for me there wasn’t any reason to play through the mundane campaign again other than finding lost secret documents to earn more trophies. Amazing visuals will only carry software so far.
Actually playing the game is also mixed bag. If you’ve played Halo, Battlefield, Call of Duty or even a Rainbow Six game, you’ll feel right at home with the newest Killzone. Most of the controls feel identical to other hit shooters. One of my biggest gripes with the game is how heavy the guns actually feel while shooting. Turning your weapon left to right feels sluggish and unresponsive compared to other shooters. This unfortunately has plagued the series since the first game. There also wasn’t enough variety when it came to actual weapons either, and what is available in the game’s arsenal doesn’t really sell the idea that this is all supposed to be taking place in the future.
What is new with Killzone is your robot companion the OWL. With your mechanical companion, you’ll swipe the Playstation 4’s touchpad in various directions to command the OWL to do various tasks. You can send your droid to attack enemies, or even stun them with a massive EMP shock. When the fighting gets tense, the OWL was a great ally to have in the midst of battle. There are sections of the game when you can use the OWL to send out a zip line to either ascend or descent a high position. Unfortunately, I never used this more than five times during the single player campaign. It would’ve been nice to be able to use it more effectively during gameplay.
After you finish the entire campaign (about ten hours give or take) you’ll find that Killzone Shadow Fall has a very narrow selection of alternative gamemodes, and is limited to either the single player campaign or online multiplayer. While playing the multiplayer mode, it quickly became apparent that this game has only the most standard online game types to choose from. The only highlight to online play was that the game’s objectives would change mid-match. A novel concept, and well executed, just not enough to make the game’s multiplayer stand out. It would’ve been nice to see them add some more customization options for a player’s character other than which scope to choose for your gun. Overall, the entire package seems incredibly bland (gorgeous visuals aside), and it’s painfully obvious that this game was a launch title.
As a first person shooter, Killzone Shadow Fall is the definition of average. Nothing other than the graphics really stood out to me. While this game doesn’t rise above the rest of the pack, it plants enough seeds that lead me to believe the franchise’s next effort will be better. That being said, if you are in the mood for a really good game for your new Playstation 4, you can’t go wrong with Infamous: Second Son.