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Game Guys review - Killzone: Shadow Fall

10:42 PM, Nov 20, 2013   |    comments
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  • 'Killzone: Shadow Fall', a PS4 exclusive from Sony.
  • 'Killzone: Shadow Fall', a PS4 exclusive from Sony.
    

As far as first-party exclusives are concerned for the just-launched PlayStation 4 from Sony, the Guerrilla Games developed Killzone: Shadow Fall is at the tops of many a gamers' lists.  Thankfully the game is good enough to justify most all of the hype that surrounds it.

The story takes place three decades after 2011's Killzone 3 and finds the planet Vekta having been divided into two parts.  It's home to a refugee colony called New Helghan thanks to an attack of apocalyptic scale on the original planet Helghan hosted by the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance (ISA).  As things would go, it was the ISA that initiated the attack to begin with.  Feelings between the two groups is tense at best.  Playing as Lucas Kellen, a Shadow Marshal with the Vektan Security Agency (the planet's special forces unit), who has been tasked with keeping the peace and wiping out any possible terrorist threats from the Helghans.  It's through this interesting yet underwhemling story that gamers soon find out that not everything is as black and white as the planet's two societies may make it seem.

While it progresses the overall story well enough from the previous title, there's nothing earth-shatteringly memorable about Shadow Fall's plot.  Its new cast of characters work well enough amongst each other but, like Call of Duty: Ghosts and its protagonists, players might not remember any of this game's main characters either.  Then again, it's not often that someone plays a Killzone game because it features an award-winning script.

Thanks to the newly-styled gamepad that comes with the PlayStation 4, gameplay has changed a little bit compared to previous Killzone games.  The touchpad found on the face of the new DualShock 4 controller, for example, is used to navigate Kellen's flying drone.  Nicknamed "Owl", the drone is quite the handy tool and is surprisingly easy to operate with the touchpad.  A lot of the core controls, though, are mapped quite similar to the series' previous entries - not that there's anything wrong with that.

Combat itself feels much more open than in editions past during the campaign portions of the game.  The action is far more involved than it ever has been and players should appreciate the challenge that comes with that.  There are also "echo points" that the player can utilize to figure out whether it would be better to go into a situation guns ablaze or stealthy.

Not everything gameplay-wise with Killzone: Shadow Fall is peaches'n'cream, however.  There are issues to be had with a sometimes confusing enemy AI.  While skilled at ducking behind conveniently placed cover (something they seem all to happy to do while Kellen hides and recoup from his injuries), they are equally skilled at running directly into the player's line of fire.  At times this makes players want to face-palm.  Other times it's easy to shrug off and go about one's business.  Either way, this is something that probably should have been addressed during development.

Multiplayer once again returns in this latest Killzone game (though, admittedly, multiplayer seems to be a requirement these days regardless of the game type) and it's just as strong as every.  While often ignored in favor of more widely known FPS titles like Battlefield, Killzone's multiplayer offering is surprisingly good.  Players are split into two teams with a number of objectives being presented to accomplish together during a sort of battle royale.  With Guerrilla Games taking this different approach rather than sticking with the standard 'deathmatch' and 'CTF' multiplayer modes, Killzone: Shadow Fall truly gives multiplayer fans something different.

In terms of its presentation, Shadow Fall delivers a visual punch simply unfathomable on the PlayStation 3.  Just how good the game looks can be summed up with one word: stunning.  From amazing cityscapes to stunning vistas, there is plenty of eye candy to compliment the gameplay.  Audio impresses as well though perhaps the most noteworthy thing is actually rather small in scale.  Specifically: the sound from audio log tapes gathered throughout the game play out through the DualShock 4's speaker, adding an initially unexpected layer of immersion for the player.

Killzone: Shadow Fall proves to be an excellent launch title for the PlayStation 4 thanks to its impressive A/V presentation and overall great gameplay.  It's a FPS game that really feels different from the market leaders Battlefield and Call of Duty.  Any serious PS4 gamer should seriously consider picking up a copy of this game.  Not only is it one of the best titles on Sony's next-gen console, it's also the best in its own series.

GAMEPLAY: PRESENTATION: STORY: REPLAYABILITY: QUALITY: FINAL SCORE:
22/25 24/25 20/25 20/25 22/25 88/100

Version tested: PlayStation 4

(SCEA supplied a copy of this game for review.)

See how what our review scores mean and how the math adds up.

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