COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: Killzone: Shadow Fall PS4 Review

Updated: 11/26/2013 7:50 AM By: Aaron Chalich

Photo courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment
Photo courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment

It’s been a while since I’ve played a first-person shooter (FPS) game, and I just played a review copy of Sony Computer Entertainment’s “Killzone: Shadow Fall” for the PlayStation 4 (PS4).

“Killzone: Shadow Fall” was developed exclusively for the PS4 by Gorilla Games, and it takes place 30 years after “Killzone 3.”

You play as a Vektan Shadow Marshall named Lucas Kellan whose dad was killed by Helghast soldiers during an evacuation when he was a boy.  The Vektan and Helghast have been fighting for years, but they live together in a futuristic city that is divided by a wall. 

A man named Sinclair who is a Vektan Shadow Marshall adopts Lucas.  Sinclair soon becomes head of the Vektan Security Agency (VSA), and Lucas enrolls and becomes an agent. 

During one of Lucas’s missions, he lets himself get captured by the Helghast, and during a prisoner exchange between the Vektan and Helghast, something goes wrong.  Lucas leans of a mysterious Helghst agent named Echo.  He is then ordered to go back over the wall and destroy any evidence of any other VSA missions.

I really thought the story was great, and it was very exciting.  I really liked how at the beginning of the game you play as Lucas when he is a small child.  Your dad and Sinclair are taller than you, and you have to look up at them when they talk to you.  I thought that was a nice touch.

The game does not slow down at all.  From the beginning to the end you are constantly running for your life and are trying to avoid getting seen or killed by the Helghast.

As soon as I started playing I was blown away by how awesome the graphics were. “Killzone: Shadow Fall” is presented in 1080p and is breathtaking.  It was made to show off the capabilities of the PS4, and it does an awesome job at it.

The backgrounds and characters in the game look fabulous.  You would swear you were watching a movie right in your living room.   Everything is so sharp and detailed.  I just don’t really know how the graphics could get any better.

The controls are kind of complex.  There are a lot of buttons that do different things, but it doesn’t take long to pick up the controls and the in game tutorial is very helpful.   Plus I really think that the newly designed PS4 DUALSHOCK 4 controller is perfect for first-person shooters.  The L2 and R2 buttons are triggers and are really comfortable when it comes to shooting.

Players who play a lot of first-person shooters will pick up on the controls right away without any problems.

Lucas can climb, jump, crouch, run, aim, shoot, and throw grenades.  There are many different weapons that you will get as you are playing.   There are melee weapons like knives and lots of guns.  The one thing that really makes “Killzone: Shadow Fall” stand out from all of the other first-person shooters is that you have a really cool combat drone called the “OWL” that you can use.  The OWL can attack enemies, heal you; protect you by creating a shield around you, and it can also hack into computers. 

The OWL is very helpful when there are a bunch of enemies nearby, because you can send it out and it will attack them without you being detected.  The OWL can be damaged, but it can also repair itself.  In the upper left corner of the screen, there is a meter, and once it fills up, you can use the OWL again.

You will have many different objectives in each mission, and you can see what your objective is by pressing up on the directional pad.  This is very helpful because an icon will also appear on the screen that will show you where to go and how far you are away from your checkpoint.  Pushing right on the directional pad will activate your tactical echo.  You can use this to see if there are any enemies nearby.  You have to be very careful because if you use it for too long, the enemies will pick up on it, and they will attack you.  If you push down on the directional pad, you will reload your weapon. Pushing left will activate your adrenaline.

There are comic books and audio tapes hidden all over the map that you can find.  You never know where you are going to find them, and it’s fun to search for them.  If you find the audio tapes, the audio will come through your controller.  I was playing very late at night and found a tape.  I just about had a heart attack when it started playing because I didn’t expect that the audio would come through the built-in speaker in the controller.  It’s pretty cool.

The online for “Killzone: Shadow Fall” is awesome and is a lot of fun.  Up to 24 players can play at one time, and there are eight different “warzones” modes that you can play.  The modes are: Team Deathmatch, Search & Destroy, Beacon Retrieval, Beacon Safeguard, Beacon Theft, Capture and Hold, Capture and Connect, and Capture and Move.  The thing that makes the warzones so much fun to play is that as when you complete one game, another one will start right away, and you never know which one mode it’s going to be ahead of time.

At the beginning of each Warzone you can set your own rules for the match by selecting the weapons, maps, classes, modes, and abilities.  This was really neat because you were in control of what kind of game you were going to play, and players could jump right in and start playing.

When you join a game, you will be randomly put into the Helghast or Vektan team.  You can choose one of three classes to play as and each one has their own weapons and abilities.  Each team is represented by a colored arrow on “s radar” that is located in the upper-left-hand corner of the screen and the players name will also be in a certain color above their character’s head to let you know what team they are on.  I thought that this was really helpful, because I would look at the radar to see if a member from the other team was nearby or if they were hiding somewhere.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about online is that there are over 1,000 skill challenges that you can try and complete as you are playing.  For example, one of the challenges is shoot five players using your scope.  If you complete the challenges you will unlock different customization options for your weapons.

I really thought Sony Computer Entertainment’s “Killzone: Shadow Fall” was an awesome game.  The game was full of nonstop action and the story was very intriguing.  The graphics were phenomenal and I guarantee they will blow you away when you first start playing.  The controls were fairly easy to learn, and the OWL was a really cool item to use.  The online multiplayer was extremely fun and very challenging. I really enjoyed all of the different game modes and the fact that they were always changing.

 I would highly recommend “Killzone: Shadow Fall” to anyone who really enjoys first person shooters and also for someone who is looking for a very challenging sci-fi war game that has a lot of cool and unique weapons.

“Killzone: Shadow Fall” is rated “M” for blood, intense violence and strong language.

Aaron Chalich is a entertainment columnist.