Killzone: Shadow Fall Review: A Launch Travesty or an Unfairly Blasted Gem?
When arguably the most anticipated launch title for a new game system falls shy, everyone has questions.
But in this case, is the oft-debated Killzone: Shadow Fall really a mammoth launch disappointment, or is it just one of those games that has fallen prey to impossible-to-meet expectations? Or, is it something else entirely; perhaps the result of a critic populace that is trying to drive home the point that yes, we're getting a little tired of shooters?
As always, there is no 100% correct answer.
The Travesty Argument
The PlayStation 4 was seriously hyped throughout 2013, which isn't exactly surprising. However, gamers, journalists, analysts and industry insiders all over the world were all the more excited due to Sony's "learning." The company admitted that they made mistakes with the PS3 launch, which was - at least in my eyes - a gargantuan mess. We always benefit if we can learn from such mistakes, though, and the information we received concerning the PS4 prior to its launch was quite encouraging. Availability, accessibility (in regards to developers being able to tap into the system's vast capabilities immediately) and price were all a result of that "learning."
Hence, the anticipation level for the PS4 was extra high. All it needed to potentially dominate was a kick-ass launch lineup. Unfortunately, that's the one category in which the PS4 did not deliver, as is the general consensus. One of the biggest reasons is the surprisingly lackluster Killzone: Shadow Fall, which was supposed to be the go-to title for all early adopters.
So, what happened?
Hard to say, exactly. All I know is that the AI was mediocre, the story wasn't fleshed out enough, and there were far too many clichés and age-old gameplay scenarios. Having to fend off a ton of enemies while your allies try to do something; I've always hated that situation and it's used twice in Shadow Fall. Nothing really seems to change much from the beginning to the end, and that climax scene that involved full-on stealth should've been scrapped or completely redone. On top of which, we're talking about an exclusive title, which means we shouldn't see any major glitches or hitches.
And yet, the game crashed on me twice, saved in an impossible position once, and left me wandering around in a dead world. To explain the latter: Toward the end, when you're supposed to be protecting your sniper ally, I successfully closed all the doors and stopped the enemies from flooding in. After which, she just continued to stand there, typing away at the console. Game frozen, nothing ever happened.
These are not the glitches one should expect, especially from an exclusive title. The result really could be described as a significantly disappointing experience.
The Misunderstood Gem Argument
At the same time, one could make a legitimate argument that the game in question is a competent, entertaining shooter. It's certainly beautiful and the basic mechanics are nigh-on perfect. There's a lot of variety in the locales (although I got tired of the close-encounters areas later on), the story does have some intrigue, the weapon selection is pretty great, and the action never really gets tiring.
In short, if you simply look at it as a high-end shooter with a lot of flash and glitz, you'll probably be satisfied. It's tough to really tear it down, especially when compared to the competition.
If you sit down and analyze Shadow Fall from all angles and you accept its genre, you also understand the developer's goal. That goal is to deliver an enjoyable, high-octane FPS that fans of the genre will appreciate, and to provide a refreshing multiplayer experience. In that, I think they succeeded. There are some exceedingly well thought out segments, and one did receive a more than satisfactory sense of achievement upon completing the adventure.
When looking at it from this point of view, it seems ludicrous to say that Shadow Fall is a bad game. It doesn't even appear to qualify for the "disappointing" label.
So, what's the verdict?
As I said above: a little of both, with a slight lean towards the travesty side of the argument. I only say this because, again, this is an exclusive piece of software, and the PlayStation brand has always prided itself on its rock solid, cutting-edge exclusives. I will not agree with reviews that say the game isn't worth playing, and I'd have difficulty accepting a review score under 7. For what it is, for what it was trying to be, the game seems to be an even 8 in my estimation.
Still, the disappointment remains palpable in so many ways. That cannot be ignored, unfortunately.