Developer: Guerrilla Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Release date: 15 November 2013
Killzone Shadow Fall takes us thirty years into the future, viewing the world through the eyes of Shadow Marshal Kellen; a man that lives and breathes for the Vektan Security Agency, that completes any mission with no questions asked, heedless of the consequences, until now. Decades have passed since the previous game, and you’re now thrown in the middle of a tense situation between the Vektans and the Helghast, who have yet again reached breaking point. They’re both forced to live on the same planet as one another with only walls to separate. Playing as Kellen, you are required to go over enemy lines to eliminate any threat which the Helghast may pose, to protect the Capital of the Vektans, Vekta City.
After you have completed the introductory tutorial, you are soon faced with an immensely open area with an impressive amount of possibilities waiting. There are several ways you are able to carry out your mission, giving you freewill on how you want to handle the given situation; whether it be running in with guns blazing or going safe with a tactical approach, or using stealth as the most vital asset. The area is well constructed, providing you with a sense of freedom and more notably, decision making. There are several objectives that you must complete to continue but you are able to complete these in any order you wish.
As you delve further, your open environment begins to narrow, leading to fighting in confined spaces, giving little flexibility on how to handle your objective. Occasionally you are given a couple of different options on how to deal with the situation, but in reality they mostly lead to the same course of action. Gaining the enjoyment of a large open space, to then be confined into a one way only situation is a negative for me. Admittedly the whole game can’t be the same, but that extra decision making adds life into the gameplay.
A new feature in your arsenal is the OWL, a drone with an assortment of abilities at your disposal. The attack mode works well as a way to not only kill enemies but as a distraction, giving you an extra advantage in battle. The OWL can also be used as a zip line to navigate the region, unfortunately use of this is extremely limited as your surroundings don’t often accommodate the OWL utilities.. Another skill the drone contains is a shield, I myself didn’t use this even playing throughout the harder difficulty, I found the other uses of the OWL much more effective.
Enemies tend to come in recurrent waves, once you dispose of one group; you end up with another thrown at you. The shoot outs mid to end game do start to become tiresome as you are forced into the same typical situations with no change in combat style, just a little too much repetition for my liking as it can quickly become dull. Stealth can be used but more often than not, no matter how you go about a situation you’ll still be forced into a full throttle battle, which can be aggravating when you want to use a different approach.
The main improvements Shadow Fall has made on the series is its story, which manages to put some feeling into the world of Killzone as Kellan is torn between two sides looking for a middle ground that may not even exist. But Kellan is a rather underused and underdeveloped character who had very little dialogue through the entirety of the game. Although the audio logs that act as collectables in the game do provide some interesting information, we shouldn’t have to rely on a miss-able collectable to gain some interaction with your environment.
Multiplayer manages to repair some of the campaigns pit falls; the customised Warzones are one of the best aspects, as it allows you to tailor your matches to your desires. You can limit the weaponry available, restricting classes that can be used and what abilities are available in an attempt to up the difficulty. Like the previous instalments, game modes rotate so you don’t have to keep going back to the lobby although if you are someone who prefers shorter matches you can play a single mode if you wish. Unlike previous games in the series you must complete a range of different challenges as a way of advancing your level and upgrading your equipment rather than the usual XP grinding system.
In the end Shadow Fall is an entertaining experience, but the aforementioned limitations and flaws let it down. The fourth instalment began with ambition, which sadly didn’t shine throughout the rest of the game. Although the characters lacked emotion, I did enjoy the story as it included some unexpected plot twists. The interesting use of open expansive areas that enable diversity may have been few and far between one another but they do make Shadow Fall worth picking up and give an idea of what we could possibly expect for the future of the franchise.