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December 21, 2013
Killzone: Shadow Fall - PS4 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
29/11/2013SonySonyGuerrilla Games14-24
Media HDD Install Resolution Touchpad PS4 Exclusive OFLC Rating

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Killzone: Shadow Fall - simply gorgeous.
If there is one thing Sony's shiny new PlayStation 4 console isn't short of is shooters. Electronic Arts have released Battlefield 4 while Activision has Call of Duty: Ghosts on Sony's new console (and pretty much every other one) while Sony have also launched with Killzone: Shadow Fall. While the franchise has never been a massive seller like Halo on the XBox, it has certainly held up pretty well compared to the Microsoft franchise.

Following the cataclysmic chain of events that destroyed planet Helghan and abruptly ended the war in Killzone 3, the Helghast survivors and ISA remnants have settled into an uneasy truce. As part of the post-war reconciliations, the Helghast have been granted their own sectors on the lush, Eden-like planet of Vekta and its glorious capital, Vekta City.

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Even in multiplayer this is a great looking title.
For three decades, both factions have lived side by side, separated by an enormous security wall but now their cold war is about to go hot. Behind the scenes, forces within each faction have begun warring and conspiring to further their own agendas. Some, like the extremist splinter group Black Hand, want to force an all-out civil war. Others, like Helghast intelligence operative Echo, are desperately trying to prevent it.

As Shadow Marshal Lucas Kellan, you must deal with the escalating hostilities before they envelop the entire planet. A new warrior for a new era of war, your missions will range from quiet infiltrations to all-out combat. You will need to be methodical and ready to adapt, as any misstep could lead to mutually assured destruction...

The game starts with a short prologue sequence that gives you little to do other then follow some other characters and take cover. Even when an enemy is downed it's impossible to pick up his gun - it's not a good start although it does give you an opportunity to get used to the stunning visuals in the game before launching into the 10-mission campaign. As expected the game plays like previous FPS's in the franchises with a variety of weapons and grenades/C4 on offer.

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Forests look absolutely amazing in Shadow Fall.
Killzone fans will notice some changes with this release too not least of which is much more open battlefields. Gone are the narrow corridors and limited fields of play - indeed by opening up the battlefields provides more options for taking out enemies. Somewhat strangely though as the game progresses this openness seems to reduce again. As you play through the missions the game deviates from just FPS to include some stealthy sections, and also some moments where you need to select targets for a sniper to take out. These moments break up the action nicely.

While this is a FPS for the most part what helps to differentiate this from other shooters is the availability of the OWL - a small flying vehicle that has several purposes. Most useful is the ability to target enemy soldiers so you can send the OWL into an enemy area to start laying fire on them. The OWL can also be used to provide a shield, fire out a grappling line, fire an electric pulse, hack terminals or revive you when downed during battle. While it provides the distinctive point over many other shooters we also felt we became over reliant on using the OWL in combat - quite often we just kept pushing it ahead of us to take out enemies or at least spot them. Perhaps a system which would see you having to set the targets for the OWL first would have been a benefit to the game.

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Leaping for the gunship.
Like so many shooters launching on today's market the key selling point isn't the campaign mode, but the multiplayer, and we can see why. While a campaign may last 10 hours or so, the multiplayer modes could keep you playing for weeks, if not months. Killzone: Shadow Fall doesn't disappoint in this area either with 10 maps included with the game (and more on the way - more on that soon) and support for up to 24-players in game modes including War Zone which rotates between modes such as Team Deathmatch and Search and Destroy among others. Impressively you can also create and fully customise your own multiplayer matches with some interesting, and entertaining, results. Single lives? Only one weapon? It's all possible.

If there are some issues with multiplayer it's that the developers haven't really pushed too much new and should have expanded clan support - but with the frequency of patches and improvements promised this already very impressive multiplayer is only set to get better in the coming months.

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Yes, these are real-time PS4 visuals.
Another great aspect of this games multiplayer is that the developer, Guerrilla Games, are not only frequently patching the game to improve what is already there, but will also be providing all new multiplayer maps for free so as to not split up gamers - now that's a great move from Sony - we're sick of buying a game and then having to pay for every DLC post-launch or having different maps to friends.

Whenever a new console is released the immediate point of difference noticed by the average punter is the visuals, and fortunately for Sony, unlike the very bland Knack, Guerrilla Games have pushed the PS4 quite hard and produced something truly next-gen visually. Using the companies own in-house engine this game runs at a full 1920 x 1080p resolution at a solid 30fps which moves up closer to, but not a rock solid, 60fps for multiplayer.

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Flying over the city is simply amazing...
While the enemies are a little generic and looking similar there is no doubt about the lush visuals which this game pushes out and, finally, there are some brilliant colours rather then the drab grey and brown tones of previous titles. During the course of the campaign you will traverse gorgeous city landscapes, lush jungles, dirty war-torn environments, space stations and much more. Apparently uncompressed this game pushed around 270GB of data, and we can easily see much of that would have been with environments and texturing. It's a true accomplishment to see this game squeezed onto a single 50GB Blu-Ray (although the game only installs 37GB to the PS4 HDD).

There aren't too many disappointments visually other then, like all other PS4 launch titles, there is no support for 3DTV's. In some regards we can understand this as developers are still getting to grips with the hardware, but we do hope that Sony aren't forgetting all those that bought 3DTV's as "the next big thing" in recent years.

Killzone: Shadow Fall is a solid game in all areas but the highlight has to be the audio which smacks of Hollywood production values from start to finish. The music also pretty atmospheric throughout the campaign while the dialogue also gets the job done effectively - albeit without really pushing the boundaries of greatness in either scripting or delivery.

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Shadow Fall is a fantastic launch title.
Guerrilla Games have also introduced an audio system called MADDER - Material Dependent Early Reflections - which sees the game calculating the reflection of sounds off different materials in the environment. Fire your gun and if you're in an enclosed, metallic surrounded space the impact will be a lot greater than when firing the weapon in a large outdoor environment or one surrounded by cloth. As one would expect from such a system the surround sound in this game is phenomenal and during battles you will be able to accurately pinpoint enemies, or people talking or other effects, by sound alone.

Killzone: Shadow Fall isn't the greatest game ever seen, but it's not a disappointment either and as a launch title it holds up very well. It's a tough choice between this game, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 but we think this title holds the visual edge, with a better single player campaign over the other two titles and doesn't crash frequently like EA/DICE's mess (that being Battlefield 4). If you've got a PlayStation 4 then Killzone: Shadow Fall should be on your list of titles to check out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSProbably the most technically accomplished launch title on the PS4.
SOUNDThis game has some of the best audio effects we've ever heard with solid music and dialogue too.
GAMEPLAYWhile not the most enjoyable FPS we've ever played it's polished from start to finish, and multiplayer is impressive.
VALUEA pretty decent 10-hour single player campaign, and a cracking multiplayer which will only expand in future.
OVERALLKillzone: Shadow Fall is one of the best games on the Playstation 4, especially from a technical level however it's probably lacking something to make it essential. For FPS fans though this is well worth checking out.

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