Halo, to many PlayStation gamers, would seem like an unattainable franchise. Of course, Microsoft would never port its precious baby to Sony consoles, but that doesn’t mean that Sony can’t create its own first-person IP. In 2004, Sony decided to do just that and released Killzone. With three PS3 releases and the mandatory PSP and Vita ties under its belt, the franchise has never surpassed mediocrity. The mundane shooting mechanics and sloppy controls made many games in the series a pass for most consumers. With the new PlayStation 4 console, can the latest version of Sony’s FPS franchise compete with the Master Chief?
With Killzone Shadow Fall, you will play as Lucas. You will begin your journey when you are only five years old and escape your home to reach another part of your home planet. Without revealing too much, he will be influenced to join the army to fight the good fight against the Helghasts. Rising through the ranks within the appropriately named Shadow Academy, Lucas will become a special ops unit like Sam Fischer.
The highlight of the entire campaign is actually the first mission. Like Lucas, you are sent to blow up various buildings that are crucial to Helghast. What makes this mission so special is the open landscape much like the original Halo. You can choose which goal to pursue as soon as your boots hit the ground. This quest, like the others you’ll find in Killzone Shadow Fall, is absolutely beautiful. The way the trees sway and the rays of light through the trees will make you happy to have a next-gen console.
Unfortunately, after that first mission, the rest of the campaign fails. With enough action movie cliches 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, it may ultimately influence your opinion of the game, but for me there was no reason to play through the mundane campaign again other than to find lost secret documents to win more trophies. Amazing images will only carry software so far.
Actually playing the game is also mixed. 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 impact shooters. One of my biggest complaints with the game is how heavy the guns feel when shooting. Turning your gun from left to right feels slow and insensitive compared to other shooters. Unfortunately, this has affected the series since the very first game. There wasn’t enough variety when it came to actual weapons, either, and what’s available in the game’s arsenal doesn’t really sell the idea that all of this is supposed to happen in the future.
New to Killzone is its robot companion, the OWL. With your mechanic companion, you will slide the PlayStation 4 touchpad in various directions to command the OWL to multitask. You can send your droid to attack enemies, or even stun them with a massive EMP blast. When the fight got tense, the owl was a great ally to have in the middle of the battle. There are sections of the game where you can use the owl to send a zip line to ascend or descend to a high position. Unfortunately I never used this more than five times during the single player campaign. It would have been nice to be able to use it more effectively during gameplay.
After finishing the entire campaign (around ten hours or so), you will find that Killzone Shadow Fall has a very limited selection of alternate game modes, and is limited to the single player campaign or online multiplayer. While playing multiplayer, it quickly became apparent that this game only has the most standard online game types to choose from. The only highlight of the online game was that the objectives of the game would change mid-game. A novel and well-executed concept, but not enough to highlight the multiplayer mode of the game. It would have been nice to see them add a few more customization options for a player character other than what scope to choose for their weapon. Overall, the whole package looks 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 but the graphics really caught my eye. While this game doesn’t rise above the rest of the pack, it plants enough seeds to lead me to believe that the franchise’s next endeavor will be better. That said, if you’re in the mood for a really good game for your new PlayStation 4, you can’t go wrong with Infamous second son.