25 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Series just gets better.,
This review is from: Killzone: Shadow Fall (PlayStation 4) (Video Game)
For the PS4's launch lineup, the two games you need to check out are Killzone: Shadow Fall and Assassin's Creed 4. These two games give you the best glimpse of the potential for the next generation. The Killzone series has formerly been an interesting approach to be the Halo-killer on the original Xbox vs PS2 generation. It offered multiple points of view with unique abilities for each. Then the PS3 debuted and it became more about the gritty realism of war but felt more like a chest-beating exercise in not-too-subtle manly cliches within an 80s action movie set piece. Killzone: Shadow Fall takes place long after the previous trilogy's war against the Helghan (Read: Future nazis) where the protagonist is again the Vektan you control that was traumatized by events unfolding at the hands of the Helghans, retreading the hostility between the races from a more "espionage" spin on it.
Gameplay - First off, Killzone was always a FPS that you truly felt the "weight" of the character and his gear. in Shadow Fall, you're no longer the grunt carrying dozens of pounds of armor and gear into the middle of a huge battle. Sev is gone, now you control a Shadow Marshal, the Vektan super spy. You feel lighter than previous games. You also now have access to a hovering robot sidekick that can perform a number of functions and then disappears when it's no longer needed. After you learn the basics, it becomes very very easy to forget that you have it though. The game is completely beatable without ever using it outside of the few scripted instances where it's required (i.e. ziplining). However, when you get to a tough spot that you are getting frustrated over, that's when remembering you have the O.W.L. to assist you saves your controller from wall collision damage. It's entertaining reading forums where people complain of impossible fights only to simply be reminded to use the O.W.L. and the complaint dies/fades away. For the most part, most areas are able to be tackled using stealth. However, just because you're "lighter" and have stealth options doesn't mean you're no longer able to go in, doom-style, guns blazing. You'll just set off the alarms and have to deal with an extra wave or two of enemies. Ammo never feels scarce and there are a few really tough spots where weapon choice can play a crucial role in the difficulty.
The multiplayer is where the game really shines. 24 player Warzone is the go to mode if you are a team player. Battlefield 4 has some serious competition to face in this game, especially since BF4 is currently nearly unplayable with the horrible servers and equally bad "lone wolf" community currently playing it. There are three classes customizable with different loadout slots. As small as that seems, there is a huge difference between the three classes and they are all completely necessary to have a successful warzone team. Scouts are your snipers, with cloaking abilities, able to sneak past spawn campers to break the siege. Assault class players are your heavy gunners with dash abilities to bolt past spawn campers and then lay waste with their uber-powerful guns. And the support class is just that, a balanced class with average guns that really shines in how well it supports the team effort. A spawn beacon properly placed can allow your assault class to steamroll the other team while allowing the scout to get to a better sniping position quicker. The individual loadouts within each class can be customized depending on game mode and team needs for quick swapping (for example, spawn beacons are critical in warzone but far less useful in deathmatch where something like a turret would be more appropriate). This is what Battlefield should have strived for, just on a larger scale.with vehicles.
Controls - With the introduction of the DualShock 4 controller, we're in a golden age for FPS's on the PS4. However, the touchpad is still struggling to find its niche. In the campaign, the touchpad is simply used to switch your OWL's function mode. Multiplayer OWLs are one-function optional gear so it's not used. The controls themselves however are well mapped and tight/responsive. This is the game to show off the new controller in an FPS setting.
Audio/Visual - Graphically, Killzone was clearly built to show the hardware off. On my playthrough, I never had framerate dops, and at 1080p, it looks absolutely beautiful. And the developers varied the environments far more than previous games. Now instead of the same grey, bombed out hell-hole level after level, you're fighting in lush forests, giant pristine glass buildings, even venturing off-world to the ruins of a previous game's locale. The sound is equally terrific, even in 2.1 simulated surround sound of a soundbar.
Story - Guerilla gave up on the steroid-induced war theme and tried a more story focused attempt at a campaign. This is probably the weakest aspect of the game...and that's not a bad thing at all. The story is refreshing for the series, far less predictable than previous entries. In a very Fallout 3 reminiscent opening level, you play a child following his dad out of the Helghan city on Vekta, in which recent rebel tensions have caused Vektans to flee for the safety on the other side of "the wall", a giant wall built to separate the refugee Helghans from the native Vektans on their new planet following the fall of Helghast in KZ3. That was a mouthful, but that's the situation years after the previous console entry (KZ: Mercenaries doesn't really seem to have much influence here). You immediately jump ahead to years later and now you're grown up. Tensions are still high and you're thrown feet first into the deep end of a cold war of sorts going on. From there, it grows into Killzone standard fight-your-way-to-the-next-setpiece-battle story as you unravel the various plots between the Vektans, the political party of the Helghans and the underground Helghan rebel network trying to destabilize the region.
Overall - This game, as a launch title, deserves a 3.5 star rating, but seeing as that's not possible, I'll round up in this case. It's a beautiful representation of what the PS4 can do. The campaign is fun, and you can choose how to tackle the missions (stealth vs guns blazing) for the most part. And when you're done, you have the multiplayer to keep you going long afterwards. This is one of the two must own PS4 launch titles to hold you over until the launch draught is over in March 2014.