Again we have another exclusive launch title for the PS4; I would’ve loved to review this sooner but due to Sony not meeting their supply with the demand of pretty much the entire world, almost every retailer was run short of hardware. So for a short while I had my games, a spare controller but no actual PS4 to play anything on. When it did arrive I was filled with excitement that I could finally sink my teeth into Killzone, hoping it would be as good as Killzone 2, the last decent game of the series in my opinion. The one problem Killzone has had being an exclusive title to Sony is that it’s main rival on Microsoft’s XBOX 360, and which has yet to be released on the XBOX ONE was Halo, a game that was far superior in every way, it just blew Killzone out of the water. So can Killzone finally put a stake in place to be the better exclusive first-person shooter of the two consoles? Well at the moment, yes, because Halo and Microsoft’s new exclusive title Titanfall are yet to be released, therefore I guess the real question should be; will they have a tough opponent to beat?
Well in terms of a gripping story I’m not sure Killzone is the best it could be; following the events of Killzone 3 some thirty years later the world seems to be a very different place to what once was. You play the part of Lucas Kellan, a Shadow Marshal which the game describes as the most special of the Special Forces, or in context the equivalent of master chief from Halo. The game takes place in a futuristic city where the Helghast and Vektans live side by side following the death of planet Helghan, both sides being divided by a wall greater than that found in China (that may be a slight exaggeration). As in any walled city, much like Berlin during the Cold War, tensions become high, but unlike the real life Cold War, this one begins to boil up with factions on both sides of the wall wanting change. It is then down to you to extinguish the flames that have put this war on the burner by launching all out attacks ad special covert operations to prevent events that could lead to the destruction of the planet.
Other areas of the game which let it down and are part related to the story are things like cut scenes and character voices. It all seems a little stiff like cardboard instead of flowing fluently throughout, the cut scenes just seem to break up gameplay without necessarily playing significant parts to the story, which doesn’t really do a lot for grabbing your attention and mesmerizing you with the plot. Voices too seem like it’s a an amateur actor reading off a script, not really putting any emotion or feeling into what characters say.
However where the story and the related parts may not quite be top notch, the gameplay has improved significantly from past versions. Moving away from your generic first-person shooter game and moving into a new tactical approach where each movement you make and decision you take can have an effect on what happens. That’s why it is important to plan whether you are going to infiltrate the enemy and take them by surprise or go in all guns blazing and enter what will almost certainly become a bloodbath free-for-all.
What enhances the tactical approach of the Shadowfall is that you now have a handy gadget known as OWL to help you on your mission to preserve peace and prevent the end of the world. These are similar to the drones you’d get on Tom Clancy’s Future Soldier which could perform numerous tasks to help you out. The best thing about the OWL is that it uses the new touch pad on the PS4 controller to operate it (finally a launch game making full use of the PS4‘s new features). You’ll use the OWL from the very start of the game to, standing on a cliff you will see two Helghast below you and will use the new found gadget to take them out. But it isn’t just an attack drone; the OWL can also perform various other tasks as well including operating a zip line to help you reach new areas and a shield to protect you from enemy fire when in an open space with no nearby cover.
Another improvement on previous games in the series and one that will be tough to top from other first-person shooters is how good the graphics are. I mean we were all expecting the new generation consoles to improve on that but the visuals truly are stunning and so realistic, to the point where materials and other objects looks like the developers have imported them from real life. It’s so good to the point when you have surround sound on you’ll swear you are there in the midst of the game. While you have time to stand and stare as well you will also be impressed at how detailed the backgrounds are as you look out across the city and surrounding areas, where once you would see blurs or pixelated images you now see what looks like a picture painted from life.
Another positive to take from the game comes in the form of the multiplayer mode, available as long as you pay for Playstation Plus, something that has caused a lot of upset amongst Sony fan boys. But in my opinion I was already happy paying for XBOX Live as I experienced less whining children online, and fewer moaning teenagers who have nothing better to do than swear constantly about your mother. But that isn’t what makes the game better; it’s the fact how simple it is with only three classes and classic warzone mode, a game mode which changes objective every few minutes so one second it’ll be team death match and next will be like capture the flag. Which means camping won’t work as you have to adapt your style of play to each objective, so for those who enjoy having a lie on the ground waiting for people to come running around the corner before you pick them off, you probably won’t enjoy this.
So has Killzone been the success the PS4 needed at launch? Well it is definitely one of the best launch titles I have played so far and has redeemed itself from some of the flops the series has produced, but it still lacks a few things which would see it being a game of the year contender. The graphics are brilliant and have set a new benchmark for upcoming first-person shooters, and the gameplay has improved significantly both in campaign mode and on multiplayer. But only time will tell if Sony’s exclusive first-person shooter title will out shine that of Microsoft’s Halo and Titanfall, they don’t have much competition on the story side of the game, but gameplay and graphics have been given a good target to try and beat. It’s definitely worth getting the game if you’re looking for a game that makes use of the new features the PS4 has anyway, unlike some of the other launch titles.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.