It’s fitting that our first PlayStation 4 preview is for Guerrilla’s Killzone: Shadow Fall, which most would label the most anticipated PS4 launch title. After a lukewarm debut during the PS2 generation, Killzone became something very special when the sequel blasted onto the PS3 in 2009. KZ3 wasn’t as revolutionary but in my eyes, it remains one of the very best shooters ever made. Therefore, the expectations for Shadow Fall are insanely high, especially because it’s designed to show off a new piece of gaming hardware.
From a story standpoint, the latest iteration takes place three decades after the events of the original adventure. Both sides in the widespread war have already suffered huge losses, and the Helghast’s home plane is just a war-torn wasteland. Therefore, refugee Helghast citizens are living side-by-side with Vektan. Well, they’re living in the same city but they’re not technically side-by-side, because there’s a big ol’ Berlin-like wall that splits the metropolis in half. Tensions are high as one side continually suspects the other of planning some sort of sneak attack.
Obviously, the game is a first-person shooter, so you know what to expect. What may set Shadow Fall apart, however, is its insanely high production values and smattering of potentially innovative features and ideas. For instance, there’s the Echo Pulse, which shows the locations of enemies in the immediate vicinity. This is reminiscent of Dark Vision in Dishonored or Joel’s concentrated hearing ability in The Last Of Us. Some may argue that a skill like Echo Pulse makes the game too easy; I’ll argue that it just makes you feel like a bad-ass. And that’s what I want.
You will also be able to take advantage of the OWL. This is a flying drone that can be deployed during intense firefights; the OWL can be used as a scouting device or decoy of sorts. Basically, if you’re pinned down and every enemy in the area has his sights trained on your hiding place, that’d be a good time to toss up the OWL. This helpful robot can also fire back at the opposition, so you’ve got an armed ally. The OWL should be fantastic for strategy purposes and definitely adds another level to the standard FPS structure and style. Also, don’t forget that those brutal melee attacks will return in full force.
The game will also boast a wide variety of locales, through which you must fight to stay alive. There will be large, breathtaking outdoor vistas and dark, dank areas that are intense and hugely dangerous. As for the detail and graphical achievement, one needs only check out the available media…it’s all pretty damn impressive. Then there’s the Dual Shock 4, which we’re hoping will be great for shooters. We do know that Guerrilla is letting us use the new front touchpad to access the weapon selection wheel: Swipe up to activate the OWL, down to bring up a shield, and right to choose your mobile zipline. That sounds useful.
Personally, I’m still gonna use L1 to select because I hate touchscreens. But it’s a nifty option, I suppose. One feature that may prove annoying is that your health is represented by the glow of the PS Move light on the top of the controller. Doesn’t this mean we’ll have to keep taking our eyes off the screen to watch our health? Or will it sort of exist out of the corner of our eye, and we’ll see it dimming without missing any of the action? While I definitely have my reservations about this, I’m still pretty convinced that Killzone: Shadow Fall will be one of the best games of the year, and an awesome introduction to the new generation.
7/17/2013 Ben Dutka