I don’t think an article goes by these days on The Reticule where I don’t mention in some way or other that I own a PlayStation 4. I think it is in large part because I picked up a new console within the first year of its life, something I’ve never managed to do in the past. Of course, I picked it up in the summer of 2014, not the first few weeks of launch back in 2013 so I was late to the party with some of the launch games. One such game…Killzone: Shadow Fall.
I had never experienced the world of Killzone before I got Shadow Fall, picked up in my first foray to GAME after buying my PlayStation 4 where I was eager to find something other than Watch_Dogs to play. I bought more than just Killzone that day, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Infamous: Second Son were the other two. I’ve since completed Ghosts and traded it in along with Watch_Dogs, but Killzone and Infamous were both left behind. Don’t get me wrong, I started them both, but I didn’t really get into them in any great way.
I think my trouble with Killzone is that I tried to play it at a similar time to Ghosts, and while I’m wasn’t a massive fan of Ghosts, it did a better job of persuading me to invest my time in the campaign. I don’t know what it was about Shadow Fall, but I bounced away from it several times when I tried to play it at first. I don’t doubt that some of my troubles came about from not understanding anything about the world the game inhabits, but in all reality, Shadow Fall did nothing to help me engage with the story. A certain level of prior knowledge of the series seemed to be expected.
Shifting back to present day, as part of my quest to clear up a little bit of my backlog of games, I picked the case up from my bookcase and made the choice to try it, one more time.
If I am honest, I wouldn’t have stuck with it if I wasn’t planning on writing this little series about clearing up my backlog. I picked things up where I left them last year at the end of Chapter Two where you are faced with a battle to secure a key position, re-arming yourself and then pretty much instantly turning around into defending the position you just secured. This is a sequence of events that is repeated all too often through the rest of the game, and it just constantly feels such a chore.
It doesn’t help that Shadow Fall will regularly try and throw different enemy types against you, without giving you a chance to learn how their behaviour or armaments. It is especially aggravating when you come up against foes who are only vulnerable to one weapon type. There is a sonar style scanning device which alerts you to enemy locations which helps you identify who you are facing, but all too often when you are in the middle of a battle, you don’t have a chance to use it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are good moments, it is just that they end up being let down by other factors. Some missions see you floating in space tasked with entering different space stations, but then you end up with an unexplained HALO jump through the station once you’ve arrived. It took me throwing myself off a platform a few times before I found the direction I should be going. Another of these missions ends with a horrible escort mission where you are guarding a slow, lumbering transport container between two stations. You have to float around and try to keep it safe from attacking drones and incoming explosive containers. It is awkward, and again difficult to identify where the threat is coming from.
In another mission you are challenged with entering a building and freeing some hostages, in a nice touch you are given the option of going in a full-front assault, or trying to be sneaky. It is a nice change of pace, but is soon ruined by a QTE-based based helicopter ride.
One of the highlights is a prison escape, normally these aren’t all that great, but Killzone does a really good job with this one, that is until the very end where the same old ‘defend this objective’ game mechanics come through. However, the majority of the mission is great fun, you are entirely at the behest of a mystery ally who guides you past the guards, stealth becomes essential at times where you can use spider-bots to knock out cameras, and there is even a fun spot of sniping to add some variety to things.
I have to say though that the best mission of all is the very last one which is a well worked stealth mission. For this mission, it makes sense that you don’t receive a proper mission briefing or introduction to what is going on. The stealth really works here, and for me it is a sign of what the rest of the game could have been if it let go of the focus on shooting everything in sight.
All told, I wasn’t that impressed with Shadow Fall, I didn’t want to try out the multiplayer modes, and it was a bit of a kick in the teeth that so much extra content (co-op and extra mulitplayer modes) is locked as paid-DLC. The shooting was average, game mechanics were oft-repeated and very stale after so many years of shooters, and I couldn’t make sense of a story that is hardly explained and barely seems to correspond to the missions you undertake.
I won’t be playing this again, and soon enough I will be trading it in.
(I had taken a whole heap of screenshots during my romp through the campaign…then I accidentally deleted them all from the PS4. Thus I am left with bland press shots.)