History repeats itself, but Killzone: Shadow Fall aims to stop that. Set in the far future of the Killzone universe, Shadow Fall sees the Vektan and Helghast forces living in the same city, separated by a massive wall. War is brewing, but has not yet been unleashed; it’s your job as Lucas Kellan to stop a full-scale war from breaking out. You are a Shadow Marshal, progressing through a series of covert missions with an unshakeable parallelism to Call of Duty: Black Ops. I wouldn’t call this game a ripoff, and I wouldn’t call it a complete repetition of series history, but I would call Killzone: Shadow Fall a mediocre attempt at creating meaningful moments.
Killzone: Shadow Fall focuses on a growing conflict between Vektans and Helghast, not an outright war. Thus, the missions here are primarily under-the-radar assassinations and recon jobs. If I had to approximate the number of big firefights, I’d have to say less than ten. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but don’t go in expecting the massive squad-on-squad shootouts of previous Killzone games. Maybe this is why very little makes an impact on the player. You’ve got the big explosions, the high-altitude drops, and the torture scenes, but most of it just feels rote. Rather than building up to something, the plot feels like a series of “dude, we should include that!” set pieces.
Conversely, I will say that most of the dialogue between characters regarding the growing conflict is great. Questions of those in power, learning from the past, and even immigration are asked, and these make for an interesting, underwritten half of the plot. I just wish more interesting gameplay were paired with it.
The gameplay of Killzone: Shadow Fall isn’t poor, it just defies expectations in a bad way. As mentioned before, the focus here is not on large-scale gunfights, but on espionage. You’d expect stealth to play a big part here, as your order-giver is always putting commands of sneakiness and subtlety in your ear. The problem is, stealth only works in missions where you are explicitly told to hide or move at certain times. Moments after moments are set up with spaced patrols of soldiers, many with their backs to you, but stealthy melee kills just don’t exist here. Knife somebody, and everybody in the area is alerted. So much for stealthy approach.
When gunfights do break out, Killzone: Shadow Fall does not disappoint in the shooting department. While I couldn’t tell you the name of a single weapon (sci-fi shooters tend to create unnecessary names for snipers or shotguns), I can confirm that they feel great when fired. Kickback is appropriate, damage is accurate, and aiming is smooth. I have zero complaints there.
This only helps the game’s greatest component: multiplayer. While the campaign is largely lackluster, the multiplayer stands strong. This series has always been strong with other players, and Killzone: Shadow Fall continues the trend. No other game does progressive multiplayer like this: matches consist of three game types, with the winner decided by best two out of three. Search and destroy, capture the flag, and domination game types populate every match, and the division of ranked, unranked, and beginner matches work perfectly. This is the best multiplayer experience you’re going to find in these infant days of the PS4.
Killzone: Shadow Fall is generally hit or miss, with the multiplayer being a big hit and the single player largely a miss. What should be impactful moments in the campaign aren’t, and a stealthy approach doesn’t work even though it’s constantly suggested. On the other hand, multiplayer plays perfectly. It should also be said that Killzone: Shadow Fall is gorgeous, easily the best-looking game on PS4 right now. This is the first game where I actually thought I was supposed to start playing while a cinematic was still happening. A nice coat of paint can’t hide the faults here, but it disguises them enough to make the experience fairly enjoyable.