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Guerrilla Games
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Release Date:
November 15, 2013

If you’re wondering why Killzone: Shadow Fall isn’t pulling down the scores its predecessor earned, I can explain it easily and succinctly— it isn’t as good as its predecessors. That feels very strange to say, especially considering the talent of the developer and the new PlayStation 4 hardware. I was expecting a shooter tour de force, a defining FPS experience, one that further illustrates the lacking of the competition (in regards to the campaign, at least). Instead, I found a merely competent albeit very pretty shooter that oddly doesn’t excel in the areas in which I fully expected it to excel.

There’s no denying the beauty of the visual presentation. Even though the gargantuan scope and wonderful design of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is close in terms of graphical achievement, Shadow Fall is the best-looking PS4 launch title. The richness and detail of the environments are amazing, the animations are tight and realistic, the effects are a joy to behold, and some of the more open vistas are extraordinary. However, I felt somewhat disappointed with the character modeling and body animations during cut-scenes, which don’t scream “next-gen” to me.

The audio suffers from a significant and disappointing balancing issue, in that the effects and music often drown out the much softer voices. There’s also a volume discrepancy between the soundtrack and battle effects, which I was able to improve by fiddling with the sliders in the options menu. The voice acting is solid but in truth, I thought the acting in Killzone 3 was better. This is not what I was anticipating from the PS4’s leading launch title, although the sweeping, often driving orchestral score is indeed impressive. Much like certain elements of the graphics, the sound leaves a lot to be desired from a next-gen standpoint.

Here’s the point, which lies at the core of this review: For a variety of reasons, Killzone: Shadow Fall is not indicative of a new era of interactive entertainment. It’s a good, even great, shooter. It can’t be condemned for failing to try new things, because it does try new things, even when those fresh elements don’t quite pan out. The mechanics are borderline flawless. The variety and effectiveness of the weapons are much appreciated, the OWL drone works exceedingly well in most situations, and the fun factor is always there. Oh, and let’s not forget that the campaign gives you more bang for your buck than either Battlefield 4 or Call of Duty: Ghosts .

All of that shouldn’t be ignored and throw out the window; hence, I can’t in good conscience score the game below an 8. It’s worthy of that score simply due to its sheer entertainment value and rock solid competence as a shooter. Exactly why it doesn’t reach expected heights is more complex. Simply, the game just doesn’t feel like it’s “next-gen.” Granted, that term is highly subjective and may mean something entirely different to you than it does to me, so let’s just say this— besides the graphics, the game doesn’t do anything that can be considered more advanced. That is to say, there’s nothing here that we haven’t already seen in the PS3/360 generation and in some cases, it’s a step back .