The Ninjabot

Killzone: Shadowfall Review: The Hatfield and McCoys Are At It Again

Posted on December 8, 2013 at 9:52 am by Victor Chaves

Killzone: Shadowfall Review 1

Let’s say you are watching a fireworks show. It is by far the best fireworks show you have ever seen, and your eyes are lighting up like never before. An hour passes, and the novelty of looking at colors explode in the sky has waned and now you just want to go home. This is Killzone: Shadowfall.

Prettiest Game in the Launch Party

This game shows off the Playstation 4 like nobody’s business. The flash of bullets hitting Helghast, the sun rays shining in jade forests, the lovely color motifs that saturate level sections; there is a lot of memorable locations in this game that genuinely stick with you. The vistas that you see are some of the best I’ve seen in any medium to date, and that’s including one of my favorite FPS’s, Half-Life 2.

Killzone: Shadowfall Review 2

Gameplay Doesn’t Give a Hoot

Unfortunately everything else is not up to that level. Starting with the campaign, the gameplay is an average variety. No weapons are especially original, and playing enough games with the same assault rifle, shotgun, sniper rifle, and pistol has left me thirsty for some originality. Killzone does satiate that a little bit with the use of the OWL, a flying multipurpose drone that will attack enemies, stun/EMP, build a personal shield, and create a zip line. Besides the zip line, all the features are a big help in taking down enemies.

But even this is flawed as the system for telling the OWL what to do makes me angrier than a bull in a tomato vineyard. I can’t tell you how many times I send out the OWL to stun a shielded enemy, and it flies right past the dude and misses the stun. The fact that I need to point at a person exactly or aim at the ground near them to attack or stun is incredibly aggravating. If only the OWL was designed with a bit more intelligence, I wouldn’t be taken out of the game so often trying to call the darn thing back.

Killzone: Shadowfall Review 3

Another thing that ties in with the OWL is the pinging system where holding right on the directional pad causes a ping to expand from the player up to a certain point to see enemies and important objects in the environment through the walls. What stinks is that the OWL isn’t smart enough to know that since you have someone pinged and they’re just around the corner, the darn robot won’t fly around the corner to tag the enemy that I have already identified. I understand that this is a bit nit-picky, but this is supposed to be some advanced weaponry. If the Owl can understand to attack when I’m looking right at a Helghast, but doesn’t understand when I’m looking at that same Helghast but this time through a wall and just around a corner, that is to the detriment of the player’s enjoyability.

Vektans Are The Most Laid Back Landlords

The Killzone franchise has always been something I admired for their stories. Previous games have had very obvious references to World War II with Americans as Vektans and Germans as Helghast. This is thrown out and now makes a conscious effort to mimic The Cold War where now the Helghans are Russian and the Vektans are still Americans. Vektans and Halghans are living next door to one another as each group has half the planet, Vekta. You play as a Vektan named Kellan who becomes a Shadow Marshall, the Super-Marines of Vekta, because the Helghans killed his father when they moved in to the planet after getting their home destroyed in a Helghast vs. Vektan war.

If that last sentence did not make sense to you, neither did it for me. Vekta beat the Helghast in a war by destroying their planet. To be nice, they let the Helghast move in to their planet so as not to be total jerks. Then the Helghast literally KILL THE VEKTANS ON THEIR SIDE OF THE PLANET. Then Vekta just says “Helghast are gonna Helghast” and that’s it! No retaliation or eviction notice, nothing! It’s like getting into a fist-fight, and the winner then buys the loser a beer, except the guy drinks the beer, and then smashes the glass into the others face as thanks, while the guy with the bloody nose says “Yea, whatever”.

Killzone: Shadowfall Review 4

There goes the neighborhood.

The rest of the story is stupid, as the situations that occur never make any sense, and there are more plot holes than craters on the moon. To illustrate, here’s a small spoiler: I have a mission that has me acting like a Helghan re-entering New Helgha. I go through a body scanner and pass a wall like it’s the Iron Curtain and board a train. Now at this point I’ve been checked, went through an X-Ray, and got a dog sniffing me, I obviously have nothing. So I step on this train and after a ten Mississippi, I pull out a remote detonator and detonate an EMP bomb that was on the train. A person on that train reacted very surprised when I pulled out the detonator, which mirrored my reaction as well, because there was absolutely no way in Helgha that I could have had that on me without anyone noticing! None of this is ever explained, which is just like the rest of the game where things happen that don’t make any sense and betrays me anytime I feel even the least bit invested in the story.

It’s a Warzone Out There

The Killzone series has always had pretty bang-on multiplayer, where in Killzone 3 I logged several hours and had the time of my life, Shadowfall fails to keep my interest in nearly every way. The trademark slower pacing is still there and definitely sets it apart from other shooters as a different style that I welcome. The levels feel truly uninspired in their set up, where levels had nice different locations in previous games with wide open areas, some interesting hotspots for battle, and close-quarters skin-by-the-teeth pits, this game only has small enclosed areas that discourages any sort of variety in distance or height positioning. Essentially, it’s boring.

The classes (which were 7, then 5, are now 3) have their own subsets of weapons and abilities, but the fly in the jam here is that all the weapons are unlocked. The entire cache is open for use, but the only progression the game has is making that cache function just a little bit better by completing challenges relating to what is equipped. There are no game changer unlocks that make you want to think about changing how you play, especially when those menus are so terrible that I refuse to try to switch out a weapon. Although I feel that change is a good thing, this was a change for the worse, as the game fails to give you the carrot that older Killzone titles have as well as managing your customization and challenge records makes you want to eject the darn disc.

Killzone: Shadowfall Review 5

I wanted to like this game, I came into it with optimism ready to explore the deep relationship and history the Vektans and Helghans have. What I learned was that this story is absolute garbage, the gameplay is as unoffensive as elevator music, and the multiplayer can’t hold my interest. What you can expect is a nice viewing experience, and that’s the big thing this game has going for it. There are a few small good things, I like that the women aren’t scantily clad and look really normal, and the audio logs play through your controller; it’s been done on Wii, but I enjoyed it either way. This doesn’t change my overall opinion, but with all that I’ve disliked, I felt that I had to mention that there are some nice things about the game besides the visuals.

Final Thoughts

Don’t buy Killzone: Shadowfall. It’s the movie Transformers in video game form. Graphics and explosions are nice, but oh gosh everything else either stinks or isn’t interesting.

Presentation: 9

Gameplay: 4.5

Replay: 4

Legacy Score: 5.8

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

This review is based on the retail copy of Killzone: Shadowfall.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to keep up on his sandwiches.

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