The Killzone franchise is seemingly to Sony what the Halo franchise is to Microsoft. Both are first-person shooters set in the future, with the first three main entries being centred on an intergalactic/interplanetary war and now they can add ‘fourth entry being a sequel-reboot’ to the list of similarities.
Case in point, Killzone Shadow Fall, the fourth instalment in the Killzone franchise and PlayStation 4 exclusive launch title, is set 30 years after the events of Killzone 3 and finds Vekta having been divided Cybertron-style between the Vektans and the Helghan refugees using the space-age equivalent of the Great Wall of China. However, with tensions once again rising between the two factions, it is up to central protagonist Lucas Kellan and sidekick Echo to try and stop all-out war from breaking loose.
To its credit, Shadow Fall seems to aspire to do more than your average war-time shooter, with a central message promoting peace and portraying both parties involved as being as equally opinionated and xenophobic as each other. Which is a welcome relief with the ‘Cash Grab of Duty’ series routinely churning out the same pro-America spiel for the armchair generals to faun over. However, where it falls short is in the execution.
First and foremost, characterisation is at a premium in that neither Kellen nor Echo are properly fleshed out, perhaps having enough character for a goldfish between them, and with Echo being part-Vektan and part-Helghan, it is seemingly a missed opportunity. She is a child of two worlds trying to stop them from tearing each other apart; with a strong character arch behind her she might well have been a complex and engaging protagonist, yet all she is given is one token plot twist and zero motivation to aid Kellen at all (perhaps she was just bored and there was nothing good on television). In any case, if a character has no concrete development, then there is not much reason for the audience to be invested in them, which in turn leads to the events transpiring around them to be unengaging and trivial.
Furthermore, while it has a commendable central message for a futuristic war game, beating the player over the head with it incessantly is like blaring an air horn at point blank range in their ear, it is just aggravating. Perhaps Guerilla were assuming that because of the Call of Duty franchise, with its ever shifting locales and clockwork explosions, the audience would not be able to grasp the concept for any longer than a nanosecond, but assuming that just makes a mockery of the player.
More importantly, the final act of the game is lacklustre to say the least, there is no closure to the character arcs and continuity seems to have been thrown out of the window, it is an absolute train wreck.
Nevertheless, despite what it lacks in the narrative department, Shadow Fall ostensibly makes up for it in the gameplay, for the most part at least. A challenge is always welcome and thankfully the enemy AI prove to be quite a handful, especially in later chapters where you have to tackle heavy duty Spider Drones, forcing the player in plenty of instances to scamper behind a piece of debris to regenerate health and have a little cry. On top of that, the controls are largely easy to use, apart from the implementation of the Dualshock 4’s touchpad to change the OWL’s setting, the OWL being a companion droid with several different functions which aids the player during the campaign. Trying to juggle these functions while enemies are firing at you from all angles is like trying to cross the Arc de Triomphe roundabout whilst wearing a blindfold.
Overall, Killzone Shadow Fall is an entry into the series that feels like it is running on empty, not a must own, but it will kill the time in between now and the next current-gen releases.
Quench Verdict: 2/5
What did you think to Killzone: Shadow Fall? Was it a quality edition to the series or just another cash grab? Let us know in the comments section below