If you recall, Killzone 2 was the subject of much controversy when Sony showed off a tech demo of it in 2005 that everyone was convinced they’d never achieve graphically on the PS3. Rather than getting themselves into a similar situation, Guerrilla Games took to the stage during the February 2013 PS4 unveiling and demonstrated the PS4’s Killzone: Shadow Fall live on stage. It proved to be a smart move, because the footage was stunning.
While previous Killzone games were dark, dingy, and very monochromatic, Killzone: Shadow Fall shows off the graphical prowess of the next generation of PlayStation by bringing a world to life with color. So much color. But it’s the smoothness of animations, the realistic lighting and shadows, and how richly detailed all environments are—whether they’re a military stronghold or a flora-dense forests of Vetka—that really sell that this is next-generation Killzone.
30 years after the events of Killzone 3, Planet Helghan is left uninhabitable, and what’s left of the Helghast are forced to flee to Planet Vetka, which the ISA allows. But the Helghast aren’t a very cooperating people, and quickly wage a Cold War against the people of Vetka. Soon, those mean, orange eyes filled with hate patrol the land and kill on sight. Thankfully, a sole Shadow Marshal stands to take back control and does so with stealth, finesse, firepower, and extreme brutality.
Killzone: Shadow Fall is different in more ways than just the visuals and setting. The world is much more open allowing for more sandbox moments where you choose your path, and your course of action. In one area, I was shooting cables from platform to platform so I could rappel and get the drop on an unsuspecting Helghast scout. Sure I could headshot him from the higher platform, but it was infinitely more satisfying to suddenly appear behind him, almost out of nowhere, and slit the bastard’s throat.
From there, the forest was my playground. A rep for Guerrilla Games instructed me to try out the new DualShock 4 touchpad to control the Shadow Marshal’s OWL—a type of military drone you can use to perform a number of helpful tasks. The OWL can be sent out to draw away attackers so you can flank them from behind, it can let out an EMP burst that shows the location of soldiers in the next room, and more. All with a swipe in any direction of the touchscreen. It was a little strange at first, but soon, controlling the OWL became second nature as simple as navigating a smartphone touchscreen.
As I proceeded through the forest, careful not to alert some enemies to my left, I sneak-attacked and stabbed the enemies to my right-front. This led to a manned military facility, where I took advantage of the OWL’s soldier-locating ability to mentally tag the enemies in the next room. That’s when I burst through the door and unloaded shell after shell until every enemy fell to the floor in a pool of their own blood. That is just one epic scenario in a matter of minutes that went down.
That, my friends, is Killzone: Shadow Fall. Launching with the PS4, it’s looking like Sony’s shiny new next-gen console may have a system seller from the get go. And that’s why Killzone: Shadow Fall easily walked off with our very last Best of E3 Award. Greatness Awaits, right?