I have no idea how Guerrilla Games are the same team that developed both Killzone Shadow Fall and Horizon Zero Dawn. I just finished Killzone this week to make some progress in my backlog, and I am whelmed. I didn’t have many expectations going in so I wasn’t let down, I also wasn’t impressed either. Again, I am amazed at the difference between the two games mentioned as they come from the same studio. I should point out that this is my first Killzone game, I’m not sure how much that impacted my enjoyment of the game. I think Shadow Fall took me around 6 hours to finish, an average time for shooters.
Alright, let’s get into the Killzone Shadow Fall review.
TL,DR: At the end, as per usual.
The graphics of Killzone Shadow Fall are uninspired. The world looks pretty cool, at times, but the people, enemies, and were bland. I played the game on PS4 Pro but it honestly looked like it was from the prior generation.
The color palette did present some cool contracts on occasion. I think the bright blues and oranges of the technology backgrounds shown brightly compared to the browns and greens of the foreground and play area. I think that was both good and bad. I was always looking behind me thinking about how cool some of those colors were and here I was stuck in a gritty, boring world.
The character models were bad bad bad. Their movement was robotic and unnatural. Okay, to be fair, some things were robotic. But, the people played by people just didn’t feel right. Their mouth movement looked like ventriloquist puppets. They were all pale, some intentionally, others just looked pale even if they shouldn’t.
The one main gun had a unique interesting look. The others may as well have been the same thing with different firing patterns based on sound. The lore allowed for some cool guns but they just weren’t implemented.
As I mentioned for the guns, I think some of them had pretty great sound. I didn’t feel immersed in the world because of the sound either. I’m pretty sure the game had sound and I’m pretty sure the characters had voice actors, but I nothing stood out.
I am disappointed with a couple characters voice work because they had tons of opportunity for range and variety in what they said considering their background, I just don’t think they delivered.
Was there even music in the game? A game needs music.
Just as I was whelmed by the game overall, I am whelmed by the technical aspects.
I didn’t have any crashes which should be the expectation with games in contemporary consoles. I also didn’t notice any stutters in frames, any slowdown in movement, nor did I hear any outright wrong voice work or sounds.
I think because many shooters have levels, developers are able to better leverage the technology and make them run better and Killzone Shadow Fall is no exception. The game ran well from start to finish, regardless of what was happening on-screen or where I was at in the story.
No gameplay levels or chapters stick out as particular interesting though. I can’t think “Oh that chapter X” was amazing. Nothing stood out, besides the first playable level of the game.
The gameplay was subpar on the whole. There were many opportunities for cool tech usage in-game that weren’t fleshed out. You have a little tech buddy that does alot of stuff for you but I don’t think it did anything eventful or noteworthy. I am disappointed because the devs could have implemented a ton of cool features or things for it to do. But, it just doesn’t.
I debated on where I should include this topic, gameply or technical, but I think it belongs in gameplay. The hotboxes were very weird, especially in time-slowed events or even in regular gameplay. I would recover some health with adrenaline, I think, and then it would slow time as I was aiming down sights. But, I felt like when time was slowed, I had worse aim or the shots didn’t connect when they should. Something just didn’t feel right during those times and it made me pay closer attention to gun fights in general. I am pretty sure that the hitboxes were just off.
For a world with space travel I was a fairly boring soldier. I think there are missed opportunities when it comes to abilities or improving the gameplay with different elements of technology. The world around looks so far beyond our own technology that I felt limited but what I could do. The gameplay and mechanics didn’t fit with the lore or world.
The movement felt slow and methodical compared to the fast-paced gunfights and the two just didn’t add up to fun. It’s like they tried to pair third-person movement with first-person gunplay and it felt odd.
I loathe games that begin with story and then focus on gameplay. Shooters have a hard time telling great stories. There are exceptions to that, of course, but I think shooters should focus on gameplay first and story second. I hate spending 30 minutes to an hour on story in a game where I’m just going to be shooting in-game characters the rest of the time.
I think beginning gameplay focused games with story first sets a bad tone. We are conditioned to expect the first moments of a game to be representative of the game as a whole. If you are going to introduce me to a ton of characters to care about right from the start they better be interesting or the story better be something noteworthy by the end.
If I’m not shooting stuff in the first few minutes of gameplay in a shooter, something is wrong.
I never knew if I was supposed to focused on the boring characters or trying to focus on shooting and the two things fell flat. The story is not great. The ending is interesting and takes some risks, which I liked to see, I just never cared about the people I was interacting with.
On the flipside, the lore and world-building are great. I wanted to know more about the world itself and whats going on around me. I did not care about the characters so I found the story boring.
Just because you are making a shooter doesn’t mean you should skimp on the story or characters. As I mentioned earlier, great shooters with excellent stories exist and they are some of the most beloved games of all time. Killzone Shadow Fall is just not one of those.
The game is the epitome of mediocre. I’m not going to recommend everyone goes out and plays this right now. But, I’m also not going to deter any one from playing it. It’s an okay shooter for people who like the genre. It’s not as good as Spec Ops: The Line but it’s also not as bad as Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The best thing going for this game is that it has made me more impressed with Horizon Zero Dawn. How the same people made both of these games blows me away. You should play it if you want to see the astronomical difference between the two.
Short shooter for those who have nothing better to play, not much going for it overall.