Sony’s Killzone franchise has always been looked at as something of a red-headed stepchild in the FPS genre, largely for its basic willingness to go wherever the winds of genre trends take it. They’ve never necessarily been poorly crafted games, mind you, just highly derivative of shooters at the time each installment was developed. One thing it has never had the chance to do, however, is take center stage at a console launch, and Sony seems to have made a point of rectifying both that and the series’ core reputation with the release of Killzone: Shadow Fall. Shadow Fall wowed at E3 2013, quickly cementing its status as the flagship first-party title on the PlayStation 4 launch – a status that was only further established when Sony lost two of its four first-party retail launch games (Infamous: Second Son and DriveClub) leading up to November 15th.
What Is It?
The opening 15 or 20 minutes of the game will introduce you to your main character, Lucas Kellan, a Shadow Marshal (something of a special Vektan operative) orphaned in the Vektan evacuation of half of their home world. That half was offered to the Helghast as a place to live in the wake of Killzone 3, which saw their own home world destroyed in an event now known as the Terracide. This changes the almost Halo-like dynamic between the Vektans and the Helghast into a much more human sense of social tension, with only a wall separating the two Peoples, and key elements within both societies bent on crossing the wall and taking all of Vekta for themselves. The shift to this kind of gray-and-grey-morality, set with a background of a cold war on the verge of going hot, makes for a much more compelling narrative than past Killzone titles have offered up, and should be more than enough to keep you interested for the duration of the single-player campaign.
Why Should I Care?
If it could be said that Knack seemed either reluctant or unprepared to flex the PlayStation 4’s proverbial muscle, Killzone: Shadow Fall is a full-on bodybuilding exhibition. At every turn, the game seems intent on reminding you that you’ve stepped into a new generation of gaming hardware, both in terms of its outstanding visual presentation and its more open-ended approach to gameplay. Gone are the days of rust-and-metal-laden corridor shooting. The new Killzone will take you into large, colorful environments, both indoors and out, and lets you traverse them however you see fit. If you want to take the stealthy approach, going for melee kills and letting your OWL (a multipurpose drone that you command with the PS4’s touchpad) do the long-range work, you’re certainly free to do that for the most part. Of course, you also could also just run in with all guns blazing. After all, what kind of launch day shooter would deny you the flashy approach?
The multiplayer is also very next-gen in nature, offering an unprecedented degree of customization on consoles to an extent that even puts past Rare/Free Radical Design offerings to shame. You can upload your multiplayer concepts to PlayStation Network, and if they become popular enough, they become featured to the community at large. Experience-based progression has also mercifully been thrown out the window where it belongs, putting everyone on an even playing field no matter when they actually jumped into the mix or how often they play. The only variable is how good you actually are, just like it should be.
What Makes It Worth My Timey And Money?
Killzone: Shadow Fall is exactly what a headlining system launch title should be. It will show you in no uncertain terms the difference between your new console and its predecessor, while also standing very well on its own two feet as a game altogether. Time will tell if Shadow Fall gathers the kind of following enjoyed by franchises like Halo and Call of Duty, but if it doesn’t, it certainly won’t be because it’s not a solid game.