Killzone Shadow Fall Review

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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.

MP04_5_1384193426A 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.

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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.

Score: 6/10

InFamous: Second Son Review

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Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Developer: Sucker Punch Productions

Released: March 21/22, 2014

Platform: PS4

In this third instalment of Infamous you play as Delsin Rowe, a trouble maker who seems to revel in terrorising his older brother Reggie- who is head of the local law enforcement. Delsin Rowe portrays a strong positive attitude, his witty comments and genuine enthusiasm after gaining his new ‘super powers’ makes Second Son a pleasure to play.

Rowe soon gets thrown into the deep end when he crosses paths with an escaped ‘Conduit’, or as the Department of Unified Protection (DUP) calls them “bio-terrorists”. The powers are passed on to Rowe by physical contact between him and this Conduit, so thankfully you gain access to your abilities fairly early on in the game. He rapidly goes on a mission to take down the DUP, who are clearly the main opposition. Rowe defends the conduits against the threat of the DUP, putting himself at risk.

inFAMOUS_Second_Son-DUP_Patrol_327_1395232547The first power you gain is the ability to manipulate smoke, using air vents to reach the top of buildings within seconds, making it simple to get around the open world environment. There are four powers altogether which you gain from following the main storyline. My personal favourite being ‘Neon’, mainly due to the fact you can speedily dash around the open environment with ease.

The main story in SS is relatively short but I don’t see that being a problem as it still kept me interested throughout. SS has a favourable set of characters; you have the light amusement in the form of Delsin Rowe, his brother Reggie manages to balance out the humour. Twitch, the love interest and Brooke Augustine, the loathsome head of the DUP.

The side missions available in Second Son are interesting at first, yet they do start to become repetitive, you are required to complete the same variety of these missions multiple times. Completing each objective began to feel like I was doing so to simply clear an area, not because of any enjoyment factor. Admittedly you are not required to complete everything, although if you’re a completionist like me, you won’t be able to resist the temptation regardless of how tedious it may become.

inFAMOUS_Second_Son-Smoke_Punch-516_1384528310Side missions include collecting shards, finding a hidden DUP agent and spray painting a wall similar to the activity at the beginning of the game. By far the most challenging included the taking down of DUP centres. This forces you to consider what you are doing and how best the infiltrate the DUP base, depending on the difficulty, it is easy to get swarmed by enemies in these DUP hotspots.

As far as combat is concerned SuckerPunch is pushing you to consider using different tactics. The four powers enable you to play around with different scenarios, swapping mid battle to gain the advantage from using an aerial smoke bomb to an up close neon uppercut. You can also move in with a stealth approach by using ‘Video’ to become invisible, allowing you to surprise your enemy or if you prefer you can just run in all guns blazing. The upgrades which you can buy for each of the powers depends on which moral route you decide to choose, the ‘evil’ path tends to be more lethal and let’s be honest – much more entertaining.

inFAMOUS_Second_Son-GMc_Bank-33_1384528276The general look of the game is beautiful, visually the game is absolute. The world around Rowe is incredibly detailed. The use of powers is dazzling as well as devastating; it’s almost mesmerising to watch the tiny ash particles flicker elegantly around as you use smoke. The visuals are captivating enough to keep your interest for several hours or more.

I admired the use of the touch pad; there are situations where you have to swipe across to complete actions such as opening doors or more accurately – breaking them. At first it did seem like the feature was just added as an afterthought. But eventually it felt natural and it was nice to see a game which is trying to utilise some of the Dualshock 4’s abilities.

Second Son is worth the time and the money; it’s enjoyable, polished to perfection and an improvement on its predecessors. The array of destructive powers available to you is enough to make up for the repetitive side missions while you cause devastation in Seattle. Second Son is what it set out to be, it’s a stunning piece of eye candy showcasing what the PS4 is capable of.

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The Last of Us Review

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The Last of Us begins with an emotional opening sequence which sets the theme for the rest of the game, not to give away too much information to those who haven’t played the game. We are then located 20 years after the viral outbreak and placed in the shoes of survivor- Joel. Currently living a fairly quiet life based in a quarantine zone in Boston. Joel is soon to be pushed to his limits as he is hired to smuggle 14 year old Ellie out of the zone to find the Fireflies, an anti-government group trying to restore civilisation to the world.

Ellie’s personality is the entire opposite of Joel’s; when we first meet her, she’s joyful, adventurous and eager to greet the outside world. Their relationship is the main focus point, as we follow their brutal journey across the crumbling remains of America.

As Ellie and Joel progress through this harsh reality, we begin to see them develop, becoming closer together. Ellie is consistently curious about everything she views, questioning all the new substances around her. Regardless of the current situation; she still has a mature attitude towards all that’s happening around her. There isn’t time to be a child in this world. The very few moments when she has the chance to be are precious and important- so they tend to stick in your mind.

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We’re soon lunged into multiple encounters with the infected, areas consisting of clickers (infected given their name due to the sound they make). These are one of the most terrifying enemies you encounter, as you shuffle slowly through poorly lit corridors, listening carefully for the possibility of one of them to slowly catch up behind you. They’re attracted to any sort of sound, if you happen to create even the slightest bit of noise, they will be hunting you down within seconds, creating a scene where only quick reactions will keep you alive. They can kill you almost instantaneously. If you think that was bad enough, they also alert every other infected in the nearby vicinity, exposing Joel’s current location. The enemies which will usually appear in these situations are known as runners and they will attack in large packs; they’ll continuously pound Joel if they reach him- trapping him making it difficult to escape and as a result Joel tends to end up losing a chunk of vital health depending on the games difficulty settings.

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Another type of enemy includes the ‘hunters’ who are ruthless humans trying to survive, using any means necessary. They have formed large packs and live by killing anyone who enters their boundaries unwittingly. They give an impression vision of what ordinary people could really transform into when there’s nothing left to lose.

The combat system allows you to play around with different tactics; some situations are best matched for stealth, attacking enemies quietly from behind since Joel will take significant damage when running head first into an enemy. From experience, diving in with guns blazing typically turns out to be a bad idea. One gunshot will stop Joel in his tracks, slowing you down and causing you to take even more damage, getting stuck in these positions can often force you to run and hide to get a better advantage in tough situations.

Ellie is beneficial in fights although a non-playable-character for a good chunk of the game, she will warn Joel as to the position of enemies, which will allow you to have extra time to consider your options. She can also help when Joel’s in a severely bad situation by lugging bricks and bottles at enemies to stop them in their tracks. Occasionally Ellie will finish an enemy off, using her only weapon for a long period of the game, a knife.

Joel is clearly middle aged, his running is slow paced when out of battle, his movements are cumbersome and he lacks the ability to jump long distances, making you find ladders and planks of wood to reach difficult places and even relying on the help of allies especially Ellie to progress.

There are long stretches of the game where there is very little combat, which allows the player to look and experience the breath-taking surroundings, so few games take the time to do. This also allows time to scavenge useful items to ‘craft’ with. Crafting is an essential necessity throughout the game, such as medical supplies, smoke bombs, shivs and other necessities  which can mean life or death during tricky encounters. Joel will also infrequently come across training manuals; these will upgrade your weapons capability which is certainly useful.

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Some technical issues can take some of the realism away from the game, for example, Ellie or another companion will clearly walk into an enemy’s line of sight and they simply ignore her existence. But if her visual presence ignited combat each time, I’d rather they ignore her than produce an unwanted battle when otherwise avoidable.

Naughty Dog has created a story driven experience that will most certainly be remembered, this is something which future games should aspire to be. The Last of Us is a realistic representation of a catastrophic fungal outbreak. The harsh realities of what people will do in order to survive.  However we have also been shown Ellie, proving that there is some decency left in the world, something that is truly worth fighting for.

SCORE: 9 out of 10

REVIEWED by: Rachel Ellis

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment   

Developer: Naughty Dog

Released: June 14, 2013         

Platform: PS3