Killzone: Shadow Fall Is Ushering In A New Look For Shooters
It may be a little unassuming and not altogether the sort of title you associate with such gravitas but Killzone: Shadow Fall is the game that will usher in the era of next-generation gaming. For the PS4 at least. Killzone has been a strong franchise on PS3 so it’s no surprise that the next one is being used as a big draw-card launch title for the PS4. In fact, in a little bit of marketing creativity, Sony has put Shadow Fall on shelves in GameStop stores already so you can buy the game and then… just stare at it. Fun. Like it or not, Shadow Fall is a big game amongst the next-gen launch titles so let’s see what it does to step things up.
Name: Killzone: Shadow Fall
Developers: Guerilla Games
Publishers: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: 13 December (SA)
Killzone has always been one of those titles that never managed to quite capture me, they’re good games but somehow don’t grab me. Even this new one doesn’t exactly have me itching to play but it does look pretty darn good.
Shadow Fall is set 30 years after the events of Killzone 3 in an attempt to stay true to canon but also provide a platform for something new, a fresh start. As a result, the setting and indeed the story for Shadow Fall are quite different to what you might have seen before.
The old characters are now part of history and you find yourself in a world where the Vektans and Helghast have been in a stalemate. Neither at war nor entirely at peace. You play as Shadow Marshal Lucas Keller for the Vektan Security Agency in a city divided by a wall and with war threatening to break out.
Yes folks, this is a sci-fi Cold War story. I’m not necessarily complaining, it could be filled with the sort of intrigue you’d expect from that global climate. At the very least some political tension and the tangible feeling of two opposing halves of a city could do the story wonders.
Keller will be thwarted by his counterpart Echo who is gathering intelligence for the Helghast and is relentless in her efforts against the Vektans.
The game is said to be designed as an entry point into the Killzone universe for newcomers, a reboot if you will, but also includes plenty of nods to previous entries to satisfy long-time fans. The campaign is claimed to take over 10 hours so that’s plenty of kick for a shooter by any standards.
Where multiplayer is concerned, the game supports up to 24 players across three classes – namely Assault Class, Support Class and Scout Class. Previous classes such as Tactician, Engineer and Medic are classified as secondary abilities of the versatile Support Class.
Rocket launchers are no longer secondary weapons but instead rocket and grenade launchers are equippable as attachments to the heavier primary weapons.
Your favourite modes and the feel will be very similar though. Meanwhile, upgrading in multiplayer isn’t what it used to be. Where previously there was an XP-based system there is now a challenge-based version.
Essentially you unlock upgrades with achievements by completing certain challenges. They range all the way from “destroy 1 turret” to “kill 1 enemy player with a laser tripmine while they are carrying a beacon.” There are over 1500 challenges with each completed one gaining players a point to add to their rank.
A little more peculiar is the Spotlight System. At the end of a round the top three players on the winning and losing teams have the spotlight put on them. A player is chosen at random from each team and winning team member is given a short-window within which to perform a flashy move on the other player. Mess it up and the loser gets to retaliate. It’s a strange sort of turn-based system.
Each weapon will support two attachments but shooting things requires a tad more skill now with auto-aim removed and every gun kicking you with recoil.
Unlike Killzone 3 however, and indeed unlike Titanfall there will be no exo-skeleton jetpacks available in the game. For now, at any rate.
Where developer Guerilla Games is really looking to make an impression is with what the game is capable of visually. The singleplayer campaign is pegged at 30 FPS but this is supposedly done in favour of a graphical and by God does the game look gorgeous. Guerilla doesn’t see it as being necessary to run the singleplayer at 60 FPS but it has managed to do some great things with that 30 FPS cap.
The game can handle up to 24 enemy AI on-screen, each autonomously animated and creating their own effects. This allows for plenty of destructibility in terms of the environment around you as well as dynamic objects that players can interact with. Whether this translates to multiplayer is something Guerilla was quiet on.
Fret not though because the multiplayer is in fact designed to run, for the most part, at a very delicious 60 FPS 1080p. The frame-rate will drop at specific points but these are deemed as points where you’re about to die or dying.
Perhaps the best way to wrap this up is by talking about Killzone’s companion creature. They’re everywhere now. Call of Duty: Ghosts has Riley, BioShock Infinite has Elizabeth and Killzone has its OWL. The middle one was a joke, get it?
The OWL is an advanced attack drone that aids you in combat with tactical support, creating ziplines or even being able to incapacitate enemies. It can all be controlled using the PS4’s touchpad. The OWL can also provide cover fire, stun a large group of enemies and provide players with a protective. That’s so much more useful than a mangy dog.
Suspected Selling Points:
- Visually spectacular
- There isn’t much choice for AAA PS4 launch titles
- Shadow Fall should appeal to series fans
- There is a reluctance to buy into next-gen just yet
- Challenge-based multiplayer leveling system may discourage some players
- Killzone has a track-record of narratives with good potential but poor realisation
It may not be the most amazing title to kick off a new console generation with but we have to start somewhere and while Killzone: Shadow Fall doesn’t set my hair on fire, it does looks very good and quite promising. If you’re thinking of investing in a PS4 early, this should be one to consider.