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Review

Killzone: Shadow Fall Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4
Aaron Sampson on Google+

The art of war.

The Killzone series has often been lauded for its technological merits, but its artistic merits go too often unheralded. To define these games through terms like "IBL sampling" and "particle vertices" diminishes their striking beauty. Like its predecessors, Killzone: Shadow Fall is likely to be described through a technical lens, and the game certainly deserves praise for how many polygons it packs into its most expansive landscapes. Its buttery-smooth performance is also bound to earn kudos: Shadow Fall smooths away the frame rate hitches and texture pop-in we've become so accustomed to in even the most visually impressive console shooters.

More wonderful, however, is the art the software's ones and zeroes convey. Shadow Fall brings the ongoing conflict between the series' warring races to planet Vekta, which provides a stark contrast to the hazy Helghan environs we explored in the previous two games. Vekta's gleaming blue seas and futuristic cityscapes have supplanted Helghan's reddened skies and intimidating dust storms. Where the Helghast were at the mercy of their harsh climate, the Vektans have made peace with nature. Their capital city may reach into the clouds and spread across the terrain, but birds still fly freely between skyscrapers, and massive mountains provide a sweeping backdrop.

This is a beautiful setting for a first-person shooter, and a fine showcase for the visual possibilities new consoles introduce. At first you might think that Shadow Fall doesn't represent a giant graphical leap forward, but it isn't displaying the typical shooter's limited spaces. You traverse a fair share of corridors, but you also float through the vastness of space and engage Helghast soldiers on stretches of rocky, open land. Shadow Fall's levels more closely resemble Crysis 2 and Crysis 3's areas than any prior Killzone game's, yet the game displays such expanses with more clarity than Killzone 3 displayed its tighter zones.

It's too bad that where Killzone 3 packed its maps with exciting action sequences, Shadow Fall's campaign forgot to bring the thrills.

Killzone: Shadow Fall uses its downtime to remind you of how pretty it is, but not in service of any particular narrative effect.

The basics are perfectly sound, at least. Shadow Fall's sense of weight doesn't match Killzone 2's, but its shooting and movement are exceptionally fluid. Each gun is enjoyable to shoot--the shotgun in particular, which blasts enemies backwards with satisfying oomph. Shadow Fall also makes a go at diversification. Zero-G sequences have you floating towards airlocks and you avoid the watchful eyes of patrolling Helghast in a stealth mission. You move from firing at soldiers while avoiding high-speed commuter trains to hacking spider drones and initiating their self-destruct sequence. The visual variety is commendable. The rain pelts metal walkways during a nighttime sojourn through an industrial installation, in contrast to the sunlit cliffs that play home to your early shootouts.

Who turned the light on?

The problem is that none of these activities are particularly interesting. Helghast soldiers roam the larger areas, but they are too few in number, and don't offer much challenge. There are precious few large-scale shootouts; instead, you typically face a small handful of foes who take your bullets and collapse into a heap of ragdoll limbs without too much trouble. More troublesome is how much time you spend doing relatively little but moving through the game's admittedly gorgeous spaces.

Granted, many shooters take time to breathe between shootouts, building their worlds and developing their characters by way of slower-paced exploration and dramatic cutscenes. Killzone: Shadow Fall uses its downtime to remind you of how pretty it is, but not in service of any particular narrative effect. In one of several weightless sequences, you accompany a sluggish space capsule as it meanders towards its destination, blasting the buzzing drones that appear like clockwork and hinder your progress. The sequence wears out its welcome long before you arrive at the airlock. It doesn't build tension, deepen your understanding of the conflict, or stimulate you with great action. It's simply boring--one more insubstantial graphical set piece. Elsewhere, you join a checkpoint queue that recalls Half-Life 2's opening, but where Valve's masterpiece used overheard dialogue and televised broadcasts to introduce you to the oppressive City 17, this noninteractive wait provides few thematic details you don't already know, making its length seem unnecessary and self-indulgent.

Finally... some Helghast to shoot!

Shadow Fall announces its potential in later levels, where you shoot explosive canisters and joyfully ride the resulting billows of energy to higher ground. In this tense chapter, you must consider positioning and cover opportunities lest a colossal security contraption liquidate your physical assets. When facing the nameless Helghast grunts, it was the battles against shielded troopers that I most enjoyed. These meanies give you a reason to make use of the little flying gadget that accompanies you on your journey. Typically, I used it as an offensive distraction, commanding it to draw enemies' attention by firing at them, which allowed me time to execute them with a deadly blast from my rifle, or with a mighty knife stab. Your attack drone is most handy because it weakens and stuns shielded enemies, giving you a chance to strike them down as they stumble.

Guerrilla Games remembered what drew me and many others to the front lines of online war, and it's here that Shadow Fall emerges from the rubble and flies into the electric skies.

The drone also serves as a rappel device, allowing you to slide to lower levels, though the game makes little use of this mechanic, and it's surprisingly easy to plummet to your death if you don't carefully select where to attach the hook. I rarely used the drone's shielding capabilities given how easy Shadow Fall is on its default difficulty level, and in fact, I was surprised once I'd finished to see how many full chapters I completed without once succumbing to death. The exception to this rule was a chapter that has you zigzagging between collapsing superstructures in a frustrating freefall sequence that prizes its action-film theatrics over proper playability. It's difficult to admire wanton destruction when the rules aren't well established.

One element of Killzone: Shadow Fall that's clearly superior to its predecessors is its story, which explores an aspect of the Vektan-versus-Helghast conflict that had gone curiously underscrutinized. The red-eyed Helghast are hardly moral lighthouses, but the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance's righteousness has never been called into question. Now, as Shadow Marshal Lucas Kellan, you face the atrocities your own faction has committed. The surviving Helghast have been offered a new home on Vekta, where the two races are physically separated by a security wall and engage in an uneasy cold war. Lucas's initial loyalties are established in the opening chapter, which gives Shadow Fall an intimate touch Killzone has always lacked, and Kellan ultimately finds himself torn between his fiery father figure and the mandates of his own conscience. The story beats a predictable drum, and Lucas is an underdeveloped hero who is only remarkable for what he does as opposed to who he is, but at no point did I look back longingly on Rico and Garza's meathead chatter.

Why hello there, mysterious cloaked woman.

Where Shadow Fall's campaign eases back on the action, its class-based multiplayer options front-load the thrills, and as always, the Warzone is at the center.

Warzone isn't a mode so much as a template. It allows you to mix and match various modes such as Team Deathmatch, Capture and Hold, and many others. Classic Warzone randomizes these modes and is an instant thrill. Guerrilla Games is a master of map design, and Killzone: Shadow Fall maintains the series' high bar. The Remains map recalls Killzone 2's finest online moments. Crumbling buildings and massive blast holes disrupt your line of sight and keep you looking up and down as well as all around, listening for the telltale footsteps and rat-a-tat-tats that betray nearby soldiers. Combatants weave through corridors and converge in the courtyards and open streets that shape the most frenzied battles.

Penthouse is another treasure among the 10 maps, featuring a rotating core that causes its four entryways to open and close, bringing an extra tactical concern to the firefight. An attempt to be clever and wait for one entrance to become accessible could end with a knife in your back when the entrance behind you clears instead. Players taking alternate routes are guaranteed to clash as they circle the surrounding hallways, and the victor in a surprise one-on-one encounter is typically the one who hits the trigger--or who pulls out a knife--first.

Cloaked teams slinked through a forest armed only with sniper rifles, desperate to stay alive.

On these maps and others, varying objectives pull you into action hotspots, where a dozen or more combatants vie for control. A well-placed spawn generator (which allows teammates to spawn outside of your base) can turn a calm theater into an unstable battlezone where a sudden glut of Helghast soldiers descend upon a group of defending Vektan security agents. The rotating modes keep you on your toes, but it isn't just the mad dash to the next capture point that lights my fire. After one leg of the battle ends, there's a restless pause while teams await instructions, giving me a chance to gun down unfocused fighters who let down their guard.

Shadow Fall features three classes--scout, assault, and support--in contrast to Killzone 3's five, though classes possess more than just two special abilities. While I dabbled as a scout, I'm not one to snipe from the shadows or cloak myself from view. I gravitated to the support class, in part because I love the shotgun's potency, but also because I enjoyed earning points each time a teammate used a spawn beacon I'd placed. I also enjoyed coming to the rescue of fallen comrades in need of revival, in part because I could summon a healing drone to the battlefield. What a nice change from using a defibrillator to shock a friend back to life.

That guy's shoulder has been killed to death.

Warzones let you arrange match types as you see fit, but you aren't limited to the default versions. You can customize matches in significant ways, and if you're worried about how well they'll play out online, you can always populate the match with bots. (The scarcity of bot support in other online shooters continues to exasperate me.) You can mess with the number of capture beacons, change time limits, and limit players to specific classes and weapons. Or try creating asymmetrical teams, forcing one to use pistols and allowing the opposing team to cloak themselves. You can significantly alter the pace of a multiplayer match by altering the parameters. I'm excited to see what anarchy results in a match with everyone armed with electrical squad cannons and carrying maximum ammo, and the personalized warzones I did play were notably different from each other. In one creation, cloaked teams slinked through a forest armed only with sniper rifles, desperate to stay alive, knowing that this match type didn't support respawning. In another match type, pump-action shotguns ruled the day. Each player possessed a special ability that allowed for hurried sprinting, turning a Capture and Hold match into a bloody close-range tug of war.

As much as I enjoyed my online time with Killzone: Shadow Fall--and as much as I will enjoy lots more time with it, unlocking perks that allow me to personalize my weapons--I missed Killzone 3's jump pack, which brought a nifty nimbleness to the battlegrounds. I missed it in Shadow Fall's disappointing single-player campaign, too, which sorely needed a shot of adrenaline. Where I look back fondly on Killzone 2's finest single-player moments, the moments I recall here are those in which I wandered through corridors and rocky meadows wondering where the bad guys were. Luckily, Guerrilla Games remembered what drew me and many others to the front lines of online war, and it's here that Shadow Fall emerges from the rubble and flies into the electric skies.

The Good
Wonderful visuals present you a world you want to explore
Fantastic multiplayer maps diversify the action
Customizable warzones keep online play fresh
Story explores the ongoing conflict from a new, personal angle
The Bad
Lackluster single-player firefights
Too much downtime that fails to instill tension
Underutilized attack drone
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Killzone: Shadow Fall

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd has played every console Killzone game to completion, and thinks Killzone 2 is the most underregarded shooter gem of its generation. (He also thinks Killzone 2 has the best flamethrower ever.) He played the Shadow Fall campaign in the GameSpot office, and it took about 8 hours, give or take. He played numerous online multiplayer sessions at Sony's offices.

Discussion

1844 comments
Hobbes444
Hobbes444

This game is why you should buy a PS4. Killzone is one of my favorite game series, i still have KZ 1 for the PS2 and yes, i still play it lol. It is awesome and tons more enjoyable than CoD or Battlefield.

Foxhound1982
Foxhound1982

Ive been playing for a few days now, reached level 7 so far and my main sentiment whilst playing the game is- "god, i am so boooooooooooorrrred!!". I cant believe this is made by the same team that brought us the excellent Killzone 2. Why has the pace been slowed to a crawl? Your character has lost that weighty feel and the guns feel underpowered. Killzone has lost that "Killzone" feel. This is more like Call of Duty: Helghast Edition.

kryotech
kryotech

Frankly I think this review is too harsh. The game is worth buying and playing. It deserves at least an 8. Granted it's not perfect in every respect, but it's still fun.

malachi_27
malachi_27

Blasting through the campaign on Hard right now, and I have to say that even if it doesn't eclipse Killzone 2, I think it's the second-best the series has to offer.  Great addition to the franchise.

cnx2022
cnx2022

I must say that though I respect Kevin's opinion, I must say I totally disagree with him. Truthfully, I don't even think he is a Killzone fan anymore. His criticism for this game seems unfounded and unwarranted at times. 


But I am not here to undermine him due to his low score. Rather, I am here, to encourage gamers that are doubting whether to purchase this game.


I see many people complain because of the "downtime" and how open the missions can be. Seriously, it is tiring to see no matter what changes Devs make, the whiners and cryers will always complain.


In SO many First Person Shooters, people complain and cry about how "linear" campaigns of FPS can be (here's looking at BF3 and all CoD games). Now Guerrilla makes missions that are pretty open, and you have to REALLY  REALLY explore well to find objectives  and  then people cry and moan about how "not linear" the campaign is forcing Guerrilla Studios to send us a patch to implement objective markers in the maps. Which is fine I guess.. Now you choose if you want the game to hold you by the hand to each objective, or whether you want to get to them on your own.


The quiet moments to me are simply great. You get to explore and really enjoy the environment. The story to me is spectacular, and pretty awesome plot.


The visuals are be-dazzling, and many areas simply make my jaw drop to the ground with its drop dead gorgeous visuals. Plus if you take your time to find ALL collectibles, you get an even MORE awesome idea of the story revolving around this awesome universe. 


To anyone doubting if to get this game, I highly recommend it. 

Mr_Ditters
Mr_Ditters

Warning:  this multiplayer in this game is currently broken.  Visit the KZ forums for details.  Suffers from up to 30 second lag.  Weeks without a fix.  Do not purchase this game.

tomahawk_
tomahawk_

First game I bought for my PS4. Well worth the money.

Vambran
Vambran

Not as good as Kill Zone 1 or 2. For all intents purposes this could have been released on the PS3 and still look/play the same.

Andyf1ghter
Andyf1ghter

Was planning to buy a PS4 this week but have changed my mind after reading these reviews. I can't even see anything on the horizon that could possibly tear me away from GTA V.

The next-gen consoles might be here but it's gonna be a while before the next-gen games start arriving.


SirFiddler
SirFiddler

i have a love and hate relationship with this game. i finished it on hard and enjoyed it 90 % of the time. The problem I have had with it are the "free falling" sections later in the game. It was very frustrating as I had no idea what to do and needed to look at a few videos online to finally figure it out. It almost had me so far as to not play the game any longer. Glad I did finish it though. I wonder however if the story campaign maybe is a bit too short. Considering that I am normally not very good at these games and that I played it on hard, I did mange to get through it pretty quick.

Jakeslikescakes
Jakeslikescakes

Glad they finally brought back custom matches. Killzone 2 did that right. This one looks pretty good

chepoumaximus
chepoumaximus

This is the worst review I've ever read. Kevin, at least try playing the game on medium before you start trashing the OWL.

How the **** this game generic?

Are you guys just saying that to be hip? Play the game, give it a go at a decent difficulty and formulate your own **** opinion.

Derugs
Derugs

This game is soo trash

kye-mc
kye-mc

Im halfway through the campaign on medium and have died numerous times because of epic battle fights? This review makes sense in areas where it says the graphics are beautiful (Trust me they are!) but describing the campaign as 'Uninteresting' is totally wrong. In my opinion is one of the best FPS campaigns I've played in years since World at War... So far I would give the campaign a solid 8.3

Rat_King
Rat_King

I hate the new Gamespot layout. How is this is any way an improvement? The main reason I stuck with GS is because I could see the critics, user, and metacritic review scores nicely bundled together...

Gliave
Gliave

.....I can't believe how underrated this game is.....7? It's WAY better than Crysis 2, in fact, I find it more engaging, advanced and fulfilling than Crysis 1 ffs, even as open world shooters.

The heck people, the shooting mechanisms, the explosions, the use of the drone, the adrenaline shots, the zip lines, environments....The heck of a down time are u talking about? Even the challenge in Medium difficulty, this is a game worth hailing as a not-to-be-missed exclusive title, and even thrives even more as a launch title..

I haven't the slightest clue what the review's talking about....My jaw's somewhere in the basement parking lot as I play this...

Here's my ma'fkin 9 to ya KZ, and a bow to boot....Sheesh.

daviz88
daviz88

i'm playing this game now and loving it soo much.


LACKLUSTER single player campaign? what the hell Kevin? i don't know which game you played but there were a lot of fire fights. particularly the mech battle........... Goddamn. 


UNDERUTILIZED DRONE? really? as far as i'm concerned the OWL is like the second main character, truth be thought your OWL isn't just a sidekick but your partner in crime.


TOO MUCH DOWNTIME? yes there were downtime (e.g GOOD,OKAY & BAD platforming section) but there are few and far in between that it doesn't harm the single-player experience.

these are my thoughts on the single-player

  • bigger environment which offer more strategic freedom
  • greater weapon variety ( as compared to the lack luster list in KILL-ZONE 2)
  • elements like the OWL, the SONAR and the ADRENALINE RUSH which great variety in combat
  • or though the enemy A.I aren't the smartest bunch in no way are there push over. apart from numbers the enemies a particularly good at FLANKING which makes the SONAR your best friend, as it can be used mark enemies and plan ahead. thus making shadow fall more tactical than its predecessor.
kill-zone fans who are worried about weighty/human feel been absent, don't fear its still there only now its faster and more smoother than past games.

not discrediting you Kevin quite frankly i think you the only person who has actually played KILLZONE in GameSpot, but with all due respect i think the game deserve higher.

from what i is seen so far this game 8.5-9.0




alcaclarke
alcaclarke

Please Santa..Bring me a M'fn PS4. I"ve been good...mostly

2zosteve
2zosteve

just picked up a ps4 no games yet. gonna pick this one up used just in case its no good. no other games yet for this system worth buying.

LeMeAtOm
LeMeAtOm

this game is aweful, it feels like you have no legs, your running through mud or you weigh about 500lbs, the multiplayer maps feel unpolished and overall the feeling of being is just too detached, how this got over a 5 is beyond me, it looks good and that's about it.... i wont even get started on the campaign :(

MCSantaBarbara
MCSantaBarbara

I should have listened to you Kevin. This game is boring & frustrating. I bought it digital download as well so I can't even sell it :(

Gopstop2222
Gopstop2222

so call of duty gets same year 8-9 score but this gets 7? yeah gamespot u seems so legit by every review i wonder how much microsoft paid for this

VintAge68
VintAge68

Boring, unnecessary, and self-indulgent review--KVO inconsistency at its best...

spartanx169x
spartanx169x

Not a fanboy of any platform. I got KZ with my PS4(My first PS ever).And this game is amazing. Based on the review I thought I would be disappointed. But this game is an easy 8 to 8.5. The only complaint about the game I have is at certain points I could not tell where or what I needed to do next. But it has only happened twice in the game.  I think as a SCI FI shooter, its  almost as good as Halo. And is way better than Crysis 2.  The story is good, the graphics are amazing. The AI is good. and Multiplayer is good as well. Is it unique? No. Is it groundbreaking, No. Is it worth the money ?  Yes. And play it on Normal level and not easy. I think the reviewer played it on easy and that's why it was not a challenge for him.   

B74kD37H
B74kD37H

the single player was never this games strong suit

StephenSays
StephenSays

Ghost & BF4 get 8's multiplatform FPS

Shadow fall gets a 7 One platform FPS

TheExxorcist
TheExxorcist

Online is fun. I catch myself getting upset at Bfield4 and COD. Im now a mainstream player on KZ online. I actually prefer it. Oh. And yes, online looks just as beautiful as single player :)

ristactionjakso
ristactionjakso

I hate how they took out the brutal melee from KZ3. 

I mean sure you get your knife stab and throat slit.......but where is the thumbs in the eyes gouge? Where is the knife into the red eye socket of the helghast? Knife the top of the head? A lot of steps forward, but still few back. And no splitscreen to boot.

daveg1
daveg1

i might get it when its in the bargain bucket..

kozzy1234
kozzy1234

Nice graphics, very generic game though, from the 4 hours I played of it I would give it a 6 out of 10
. It has nice graphics and that is it, meh story, meh controls.. the online is the only decent aspect of the game besides the graphics, campaign is pretty bad.

RicanV
RicanV moderator

Between an 8.5 and 9 for me. 

Great game. I haven't been able to put the multiplayer down yet. 

DefunktJunk
DefunktJunk

Fun game with awesome visuals. An all around 8 from me.

Mr_Ditters
Mr_Ditters

Being a Killzone fan, I thought this review must have been a mistake.  Then I played it.  I wouldn't even give it a 7.  This game is soulless.  All of the uniqueness and grittiness of the Killzone series is gone.  Multiplayer is even worse than the campaign.  Only 3 classes?  The running animation is ridiculous.  The sound effects are terrible, whereas in Killzone 2-3 they were phenomenal.   All of the guns seems the same.  The coolness factor is gone.  The atmosphere (which made Killzone great) is gone.

Sure the graphics are phenomenal but some suit made some major design errors in judgment when they built this game from the ground up.  I'm a little sad.  Unless there is a major paradigm shift at GG the Killzone series is dead. 

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

@kryotech  I think it deserves what it got. The User Score is at 7.2 while the average critic score is at 7.3 Closer to 7 than 8, so Kevin did a good job with the score. It's still considered a 'good' game by the GS scale.

Foxhound1982
Foxhound1982

@LeMeAtOm agreed, i love the previous Killzone games. this one sucks big hairy donkey balls

ONEIRONIAN
ONEIRONIAN

@spartanx169xI totally agree with you !!! And it´s a hard game with lot of controls to deal with, and the freedom of play is very nice for a shooter !!

Rooten
Rooten

@spartanx169x I played it on Hard. In some level it's challenging, awesome game!! To be honest I always play my games on the hardest difficulty because it makes the game feeling more challenging and fun!! =)

webhunter
webhunter

@spartanx169x Wait, are you saying that you are surprised that you like the game because it "only" got a 7? :) Gamespot's review is favorable and I'm looking forward to playing this game. It's still shrink-wrapped but not for much longer... thanks for sharing your opinion.

CaveManCobb
CaveManCobb

@StephenSays Because both of those games have a larger fan base. I enjoyed Killzone but it isn't a very long lasting game. It never has been. 

owenstoodstill
owenstoodstill

Have to agree , where as cod ,bf4 is frustration I've been having nothing but fun with this . Although I find I die a lot the satisfaction of stringing together a few kills is great .

Venom_Raptor
Venom_Raptor

@ristactionjakso A lack of upclose brutal melee kills was disappointing, but the game in general wasn't that violent. Wasn't even any cool, gory head-bursting with sniper fire like before.

murph85
murph85

@Mr_Ditters Considering alot of the story takes place on Vekta why did you expect it to have a gritty look to it?

daviz88
daviz88

i think the problem is GUERRILLA is a great development team but falls short when compared to EA & ACTIVATION not in term of talent but in terms of scale and recognition. hence most review will be more will be more lenient when reviewing games from EA and ACTIVISION

ristactionjakso
ristactionjakso

@Venom_Raptor @ristactionjakso I know! I loved seeing halgast heads explode from a shotgun blast too. I only had the chance to play for about 3 hours. Did they remove the flamethrower? And arent there any special weapons like the electric gun in kz2? Or the boltgun and the gun that makes people explode in KZ3? I feel they downgraded in many ways.

Andyf1ghter
Andyf1ghter

@k41m@LeMeAtOm@Gopstop2222 No, he's obviously saying that Microsoft payed for a poor PS4 review.

He's wrong of course but at least understand his argument before you hit troll mode.

daviz88
daviz88

what the hell are you talking about? what the pulse rifle ( i have forgetten the name)

Killzone: Shadow Fall More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation 4
    Killzone: Shadow Fall is a first-person shooter set thirty years after the events of Killzone 3. As a Shadow Marshal, you are tasked with maintaining the delicate balance between the Helghast and the Vektans who live side by side in a futuristic city divided by a vast wall.
    7.1
    Average User RatingOut of 341 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Killzone: Shadow Fall
    Developed by:
    Guerrilla
    Published by:
    SCEA, SCEE, SCEI, SCE Australia
    Genres:
    Action, Shooter, 3D, First-Person, Team-Based
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language