The ULTIMATE example that graphics don’t make a game
The PlayStation 4 is here and so is ‘GRAPHICS The Game’ or as Sony prefers to call it, Killzone Shadow Fall… more like Shadow Flop. Yes I hate to the bearer of bad news but Killzone Shadow Fall is a major disappointment on all fronts, even if you’re coming into it with low expectations. It will no doubt be remembered years from now as an early generation fail, the PlayStation 4′s very own Perfect Dark Zero.
Killzone Shadow Fall was first revealed earlier this year and soon became the PlayStation 4′s “killer app”, a game designed to show off what the PlayStation 4 could do and on that regard, it gets the job done. Sadly no one told Guerrilla Games that not everyone jerks off to pretty visuals and some of us like our games to have a little substance. For as detailed as the graphics are, the gameplay is shockingly plain and the end result is one of the most boring games I have ever played in my life.
Some games are so bad that they’re entertaining for all the wrong reasons, others are flawed yet still have something to offer. Killzone Shadow Fall is neither and instead delivers a painfully average experience that starts with the single player and somehow manages to make it’s over to the multi-player too. It’s the type of game that makes Killzone 2 look like Citizen Kane, even the most die hard Killzone fan will grow to hate Shadow Fall.
If you’re familiar with the previous Killzone games on PlayStation 2/PlayStation 3 then the time it takes for Shadow Fall to disappoint is a mere FIVE seconds, I’m not joking. Upon booting the game you’re thrown into the main menu with NO INTRO, the main menu doesn’t even have any music playing either. I understand that Shadow Fall wants to get you started as soon as possible and getting rid of the company logos is great but what happened to the great CG Killzone intros of prior games? Scolar Visari’s speeches during the openings were fantastic and really set the tone for the rest of the game. Shadow Fall could’ve done something similar (without Visari for obvious reasons) but it doesn’t even bother which is a shame.
The story of Shadow Fall takes place some 30 years after Killzone 3 which again is another disappointment considering Killzone 3 ended on a CLIFF HANGER, a cliff hanger that Shadow Fall has no interest in explaining. It’s at this point that it becomes clear that Shadow Fall is intended to be some kind of light reboot for the series, a new beginning so to speak without being weighed down by the previous story arc. Even so I find it laughable that you essentially spend three Killzone games taking it to the Helghast only to have Shadow Fall come in and say “So yeah, after Killzone 3 the Helghast and ISA now live together on some planet called Vekta”. Ermm Guerrilla Games, do you not think this is a story worth explaining? It sounds like a pretty big deal.
Killzone Shadow Fall doesn’t care what came before, it desperately wants to distance itself from prior games to tell it’s own story as if aspiring to do something better. The story Shadow Fall attempts to tell is boring, uninteresting, predictable and made me hate the protagonist by the end of it. I actually WANT the Helghast to win this war, the ISA are dicks. Maybe if Guerrilla Games wanted to do something new with the series they should of just let me play as a Helghast instead and see things from their point of view.
I shouldn’t delve any further into the story aspects of Shadow Fall, partly because of potential spoilers for readers but mainly because it’s rubbish. You’ve seen the peak of the campaign anyway, it was in the reveal trailer back when the game was announced.
We obviously don’t play Killzone for it’s story, we play it for the GRAPHICS… I mean gameplay. Believe it or not however, the gameplay in Shadow Fall is actually the WORST part of the game. The ENTIRE games follows a very repetitive formula consisting of the following…
Kill waves of Helghast –> Push switch –> Run to way point marker –> Kill more waves of Helghast –> Push another switch –> Kill more Helghast
The whole damn game is nothing more than Helghast that need to be killed and switches that need to be pushed. At no point does the game attempt to mix things up and it’s SO BORING as a result, constantly doing the same damn repetitive rubbish until the campaign decides to end. What’s worse is that Shadow Fall doesn’t even feel like a Killzone game anymore, Guerrilla Games have decided to toy around with the mechanics meaning that Shadow Fall now feels more like Call of Duty than Killzone.
Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Killzone had it’s own distinct style when compared to other shooters in the genre. Looking around had always been traditionally slow, guns had a sense of weight to them and shooting enemies had a (I hate to use this word) visceral impact it. There’s none of that in Shadow Fall, instead you get something that feels “flimsy and weightless” compared to prior games.
The fact that the game now more so than ever focuses on you shooting waves of Helghast is a joke considering this part isn’t as satisfying as it once used to be. They’ve even removed the head shots too, now shooting the head feels no different than shooting any part of the body in an likely attempt to keep the age rating down… THE GAME IS STILL RATED 18, WHAT WAS THE POINT IN THAT?
Throughout the campaign you’ll be begging and pleading for Shadow Fall to do something interesting yet it never does. No boss battles, no cool set pieces, no vehicle sections to mix things up, no nothing. The game was advertised as being more open ended than the previous games and that lasts all of one chapter before it decides to go back to it’s corridor shooter roots. Also teased before launch was the ability to play the game more stealthily and that too is a missed opportunity, all your damn guns make so much noise therefore it’s pointless. The game randomly decides at the VERY END to force you to be stealthy, you’ve spent 8 hours killing Helghast and pushing switches but only now does it decides it wants you to be stealthy.
The campaign in Shadow Fall is nothing short of a generic mess, a total disaster with no redeeming values. I’ve honestly seen HORDE MODES in other games that feature more depth than what Shadow Fall’s campaign delivers. Sure, I bet you’re thinking this is the natural result of Shadow Fall being a launch title, time constraints and what not but that isn’t the case here. Shadow Fall isn’t a broken experience in serious need of more development time, it’s just a very shallow one. Somewhere out there is an idiot who thought it would be a good idea to dedicate an entire chapter (chapter 3 for those of you wondering) to running around collecting various “petrusite capacitors” so you can insert them elsewhere in the level.
People paid over £350 for a brand new PlayStation 4, they want to see some pretty graphics, shoot some stuff and experience some cool set piece moments to tell their friends about. NO ONE WANTS TO BE PUSHING SWITCHES AND LOOKING FOR PETRUSITE CAPACITORS! Why Killzone, why must you be so boring?
As much as I find the campaign mode to be a complete snooze fest, I will admit that it’s only part of the experience and Shadow Fall does come with a multi-player component. The good news is that it works out of the box, this isn’t Battlefield 4 with all it’s stupid crashes. The bad news is that it works out of the box and there won’t be any crashes like Battlefield 4 to save you from this passable effort.
Killzone Shadow Fall features a number of different modes in it’s multi-player and I’d love to tell you about them but no one is playing them. The total player count for Shadow Fall is just over 1000 players at any one time and they’re all playing team death match anyway, most of the other multi-player modes are empty… seriously there’s zero players there. The only thing more dead than the campaign is the game’s online community and it’s completely warranted.
Rather than try something new, Shadow Fall seems content with ticking off the usual Call of Duty multi-player checklist without having anything to call it’s own. You’ve seen Shadow Fall’s multi-player mode done countless times before and better so there’s no real incentive to play Shadow Fall’s multi-player. Add in weak map design that’s overly cramp for 24 player games and it’s hard to imagine Shadow Fall’s multi-player having any kind lasting value, especially when you consider that both Call of Duty Ghosts and Battlefield 4 are already available on the system. Even if Shadow Fall was the only FPS on the PS4, I still don’t see why anyone would bother.
Finally we come to the technical aspects of Shadow Fall and this is where the game excels, it’s likely the only reason why this game even exists. Weather you’re a fan of the series or not, there’s no denying that the Killzone games are always a technical marvel. Shadow Fall continues this trend on PlayStation 4 although the new art direction will be a hit or miss for fans of the series.
Killzone Shadow Fall ditches the brown gritty environments of previous games and instead opts to go with a clean futuristic look. The peak of this new change in direction comes during chapter four where you’re treated to a stunning view of a city landscape, it’s this very moment in which everything else that’s rubbish about the game disappears for a short time. If you grew up playing games in the 80′s, 90′s then you’ll be amazed at how far graphics have come along and this is certainly the chapter you’ll want to show off to your friends. Sure it’s not Assassin’s Creed, you can’t actually go down to ground level so in reality we’re just looking at a pretty backdrop but the overall effect is still striking none the less.
Should you be taken against your will and forced to endure Shadow Fall’s campaign then you’ll be treated to a visual tour de force. From insanely detailed textures to excessively used lens flare that even JJ Abrams would ask Guerrilla Games to tone down , Shadow Fall is obsessed with letting you know it’s a “next-gen” title. The framerate manages to keep up too, it’s 30 for the single player and 60 for the multi-player although it’s fairly unstable as the single player likes to go above it’s target and the multi-player below it.
Overall in terms of visuals I’m not complaining and you shouldn’t either, Shadow Fall is quite the eye candy treat. As mentioned the new change in art direction won’t be to everyone’s liking and Killzone fans will probably think it looks “too clean”. On a personal level I do agree with that statement although Killzone 2 was terribly bland in terms of colour pallet so despite the hate it gets, I feel that Killzone 3 is the most well rounded of the series… I just really like snow areas.
In conclussion Killzone Shadow Flop, Killzone Shallow Fall, Killzone Shadow Fail or whatever you want to call it is essentially slightly less horrifying than finding out your parents have a sex tape. It’s technically sound and there’s nothing particularly broken about it but Shadow Fall commits the biggest sin in entertainment, it’s boring. You won’t laugh, you won’t cry, you won’t mark out nor will you rage quit, Shadow Fall is just a steady dull experience through out.
It’s fair to say that 2013 has been a FANTASTIC year for gaming, we’ve seen some great games but we’ve also seen a few that will no doubt be remembered as classics. Killzone Shadow Fall shows up to the party a mere shadow (no pun intended) of it’s former self, even Killzone 2 (the peak of the series in my opinion) would struggle to make an impact this year. It feels that whilst everyone has stepped up their game in 2013, Shadow Fall has taken several huge steps back and it couldn’t of come at a worse time.
I’m sorry Shadow Fall but you can’t show up in 2013 with a “my dick is bigger than your dick” attitude and expect people to give a sh*t. There’s some truly wonderful things happening in gaming at the moment and you Shadow Fall represent EVERYTHING that we don’t need, big budget games that are creatively dead.
This Christmas do something special, use the money you would’ve spent on Shadow Fall and buy TWO copies of Tearaway on PlayStation Vita, one for yourself and one for a friend. Give them a handshake and tell them to enjoy it knowing that they’ll have a smile on their face as they play the game. You’ll feel good, they’ll feel good and I’ll feel good knowing that not another copy of Shadow Fall was sold.