Why I despise Killzone: Shadow Fall

It is difficult to hate a game. So much time and effort is put in that at times, it feels slightly guilty saying that despite that, it was not good enough.

Saying that, I really do hate Killzone: Shadow Fall.

I’ll primer this by saying I adored the original game on the PS2 but missed out on the entire PS3 run for the franchise. I did my research on the highly-reliable Wikipedia before playing the new game back in early 2014 so I knew what I was getting into and after good reviews, I was excited to jump back in.

It starts off relatively promising, the interesting story dynamic between the humans and the Helgan living on the same planet felt right after what had happened in the previous games. The gun play felt solid despite limited options and as expected, the graphics were jaw-droppingly lovely, complimented by flashes of colour that painted the landscape and lens flare that JJ Abrahams would have been proud of.

There were issues as well, the open map style never really worked in the first few levels as it felt more like back-tracking through areas that were just more occupied than when you passed by the earlier. That changed later as it moved into more linear experiences that worked better but after the freedom promised initially, it felt like they could not decide which direction to go in.

The alarm bells started ringing when you started facing enemies that, even on the medium difficulty, hit pretty hard. I don’t have an issue with difficulty but when it’s difficult to take cover regularly and a lot of opponents face you at medium-to-close range while moving through a level to smack you in the face, it becomes a tad problematic.

The story then began to get away from itself a little, trying to tell a little too much and mirror similar moments from the original, like people switching sides. It wasn’t helped by the levels becoming a little too similar, bar the intriguing sixth chapter, and it began to feel like a slog through mud rather than surfing on water.

Then came the low blow, the swift kick to the grapes that would be the final blow, the boss fight against Tyran in Chapter Nine. In a cramped environment, his added clout would whack you from pillar to post as you have to adapt to the tactic of hiding and praying for a glimpse of his drones to take out his shields so you could actually put up some kind of fight.

It got worse, the auto-save point the game dropped me in was directly in front of him at the very beginning, which caused me to die instantly on five separate occasions. Eventually I overcame this seeming behemoth, on my twelfth attempt, but by then I didn’t really care. I almost gave in but knowing there was only an hour left, there was no point in chucking the towel now.

A forced stealth section to finish was like smearing curry sauce on top of a cake. It made little sense other than to tie up the story, it was neither hot or sweet and just left you with the strangest taste in your mouth.

What worries me more is the praise this game got from some corners, looking back now it seems that they just wanted to give something to the PS4 in the midst of a poor launch exclusive line-up. It’s like they needed to give the consumer base a reason to invest in the new Sony console but they didn’t need one, they already had us in and palming off average experiences like this will just dull the consumer base.

After finishing off Killzone: Shadow Fall, the overwhelming feeling by the end was regret, that I had simply wasted my time on a vapid, distinctly below par experience. You can only take so many big body blows before you hit the canvas and Shadow Fall reigned them down like Rocky Balboa in his prime, only to land a few cheap shots as I fell.

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