Reviews// Killzone: Shadow Fall

Posted 2 Dec 2013 15:52 by
Killzone has become, over its nine years, part of the PlayStation's heritage. Since its origins on PlayStation 2, it has spawned onto five different versions of Sony's machines, three console and two handheld, and with each release it's steadily improved and refined its recipe.

Now on its fifth piece of hardware, and the sixth release in the series, can we expect a brave new breed of shooter thanks to the muscle afforded by the PS4?

Set on and around the colony planet of Vekta, the game puts you in the shoes of a young boy, displaced from his home to make way for a refuge zone for mortal enemies, the once-human but now mutated Helghasts. The pace is somewhat plodding as it struggles to balance introducing the controls, demonstrating the plight of the usurped humans as well as showcasing the PS4's visual prowess.

Playing through the eyes of a child is unusual yet works well to make everything seem so much larger, so it's a pity that it couldn't have had a bit more of a kick to it. 

Things, however, change for the better once that first, short chapter is closed. The pace really heats up when the story skips years ahead and we pick back up as the same character, though now as a soldier for the VSA.

Under the command of Shadow Marshal Sinclair, you're sent on missions to shore up the relationship between the unlikely neighbours while tackling the small matter of Halghast terrorist group, the Black Hand. As the situation deteriorates, your missions become more risky, verging on the suicidal.

Luckily, you have more than a few naughty words to ward off your foes. An arsenal familiar to seasoned Killzone players is available, and runs from pistols, machine guns and sniper rifles, to more exotic, and only occasionally available, gear such as mini-guns or electrostatic discharge devices. Your primary weapon is locked, and the secondary can be swapped.

The exotic weapons are effectively temporary tertiary weapons, and are dropped as soon you switch weapon. Plus there are grenades, which come in a number of flavours: fragmentation, EMP and trip mine - though only one type can be pocketed. Then, to stir the pot a bit more, you have a companion device, the OWL. This hovering drone is summoned to operate in one of four modes: electric discharge, zip-line, energy shield or attack.

A flick of the touch pad selects the mode and a press of the L1 button sends it off to do your bidding. This small device really opens up the way a battle can be tackled, and allows you to literally take it on two fronts; dispatch the OWL to distract and possible kill weaker enemy while you flank and attack from a more advantageous position. Its discharge mode disables electronic devices, sentry guns and energy shields, opening alternate options for attacking or even bypassing entanglements.

The OWL's own energy shield affords protection from direct fire, and the zip-line - well, it lets you slide quickly in from higher ground. Players of PS Vita's Killzone: Mercenary might think OWL sounds like options from that game's "Van-guard" drones, however OWL is always available, unless damaged and repairing, and requires you consider it as invaluable as your primary weapon. Van-guard, on the other hand, was more like a rich kid's toy.
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