Killzone Shadow Fall
|Killzone Shadow Fall|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Director(s)||Steven ter Heide|
|Engine||In-house engine, Umbra3|
|Distribution||Blu-ray Disc, download|
Killzone Shadow Fall is a science fiction first-person shooter video game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the sixth game to be released for the Killzone series and the fourth game in the series to be developed for home consoles. Killzone Shadow Fall was released on 15 November 2013 as a launch title for the PlayStation 4 in North America and 29 November 2013 in Europe. The game was released on 22 February 2014 in Japan.
Taking place 30 years after the events of Killzone 3, Shadow Fall follows a new set of characters, putting players in the role of Lucas Kellen, a "Shadow Marshal", who is investigating a rising threat in the continuing war between Vekta and the Helghast. Along the way, Kellen encounters Echo, a Helghast operative who seeks to end the war. Kellen's world will be changed forever through his encounters with Echo and other characters, as he searches for the truth in a mission where the line between good and evil is blurred beyond recognition, and where the peace he sacrificed so much for may not even exist.
Killzone Shadow Fall has received mostly positive reviews; it was widely praised for its visuals and multiplayer mode, but criticized for its story and several gameplay problems, including AI. Additional praise was given to Shadow Fall due to its status as a launch title. As of January 2014, Killzone Shadow Fall has sold more than a million copies, making it the first PlayStation 4 game to do so. It is also the second game in the series in which Joris de Man did not compose the score.
Like its predecessors, Killzone Shadow Fall is a first-person shooter in a science fiction setting. Staple weapons such as the M82 Assault Rifle, stA-52 Assault Rifle, and stA-18 pistol return from the earlier Killzone games. New weapons include the LSR44, a recoil-free, hybrid assault/charge sniper rifle that functions much like a miniaturized rail-gun, and the OWL, an advanced hovering attack drone (used by the Shadow Marshals) that can attack/stun when it is adjacent to an adversary, as well as deploy an instant zip line, protect the player from enemy fire with an energy shield, and hack/scan terminals and enemy alarms to prevent reinforcements from arriving.
While the previous games in the Killzone series portrayed a dark and gritty war-zone with numerous allies by the players side at any given time and an overall linear design, Killzone Shadow Fall opts for a more open-ended, stealth-based approach. Levels are much more open than in previous games, allowing for multiple ways/routes to complete objectives. Also in Shadow Fall, for the first half of the campaign, the player is alone in firefights, with the OWL as your[who?] only "companion" able to lay down cover fire. During the second half onward, the player is occasionally joined by Echo as an ally, where she is able to snipe enemies marked by the player.
Multiplayer ships with 10 maps, with more on the way. Users are encouraged to create their own custom map presets called "Warzones," which then can be shared with others or promoted by the Killzone community. Classes, abilities and weapons are unlocked from the start. The class system has been simplified to just three: Assault, Scout and Support (with some medic abilities from previous games now subsumed under "Support"). The player unlocks skill enhancements based on completing challenges unique to his class.
Following the Petrusite detonation that rendered the planet Helghan uninhabitable in Killzone 3, now referred to as "the Terracide", the ISA grants refuge to the Helghast survivors on the planet Vekta, allowing them to colonize half the planet, with that half of the planet dubbed New Helghan. A massive security fortification called The Wall is constructed to separate the two civilizations from each other, due to the resentment they bear over the previous war. Both the Vektans and Helghast routinely perform covert operations against each other in the hope of finishing the war each claims the other started. The majority of the game takes place in Vekta City, home to the Vektan Security Agency (VSA) headquarters, as well as a prison in New Helghan, and Helghan, the original home to the Helghast, now dead and shattered due to the Petrusite detonation.
The game begins in the year 2367, several years after the construction of 'The Wall', during the forced relocation of Vektans out of New Helghan. Michael Kellan and his 5 year old son, Lucas, attempt to sneak through New Helghan to The Wall. Along the way, they meet Sinclair, a Shadow Marshall, who aids them in making it through to safety. Just as the group makes it to The Wall, Helghast forces spot them and kill Michael. After Sinclair dispatches the remaining forces, he promises Lucas that he will look after him. A brief cutscene plays, showing Lucas rising through the ranks of the Shadow Marshall Academy, eventually becoming a full-fledged Shadow Marshall and working under Sinclair's command.
In 2390 (around 30 years after the events of Killzone 3), tensions between the Vektans and Helghast have reached a boiling point. Kellan, who let himself be captured by the Helghast as part of an investigation, is being brought across The Wall as part of a prisoner exchange for a Helghast agent named Echo. After the exchange, Kellan is ordered to return to the Helghan side of The Wall in order to retrieve classified data. Kellan recovers the classified information and makes a bold escape out of the area. Using the recovered data, Sinclair sends Kellan to the ISA Cassandra, a bio-tech research station, to destroy evidence of a bio-tech weapon being created by head scientist Dr. Hillary Massar. Once on the station, Kellan encounters Echo, who escapes with Massar in tow; while Kellan makes it off the station just as it falls into the sun.
Upon arriving at VSA headquarters, a massive explosion rips through the building, killing several civilians and soldiers. Through the confusion, Kellan meets up with Sinclair; just as a broadcast comes through from Vladko Tyran, leader of "The Black Hand", a paramilitary terrorist group claiming responsibility for the attack. As a result of the terrorism, all Helghast citizens residing on the Vektan side of The Wall are deported to New Helghan. Sinclair sends Kellan under-cover with the rest of the refugees in order to locate Tyran. Eventually he finds Tyran and learns that he is working for Jorhan Brimve Stahl (having survived the events of Killzone 3), who plans to use Massar's bio-tech weapon that has been altered to target Vektans. Shortly after, Kellan is taken captive.
Kellan is approached by Echo in his cell. He informs her that Stahl plans to use Massar's bio-tech weapon to kill Vektans and half-breeds alike, including Echo (who is half-Vektan, half-Helghast). Echo, who is revealed to be Lady Hera Visari's daughter, is displeased with Visari for being in league with Stahl and planning to ignite another war. She helps Kellan escape his cell and returns him to the Vektan side of The Wall in order to convince the VSA to stand down. Upon his return, Sinclair ignores Kellan's pleas to stand down, outraged that he is siding with Echo. Instead, Sinclair informs him that the VSA discovered massive mining spires in orbit over the planet Helghan. Kellan infiltrates the main spire and finds Massar. She states that the weapon is now with Stahl, being prepped for its final test. Sinclair orders Kellan to take Massar into custody, but Echo arrives and kills Massar. Now viewed as a traitor by Sinclair, Kellan teams up with Echo, and the two descend to Helghan to stop Stahl.
Once the duo arrive on the destroyed surface of Helghan and head to Stahl's base, they confront and defeat Tyran. Kellan then radios Sinclair, warning him to abort the ISA assault on Stahl, but Sinclair ignores him. As the ISA begin their attack on Stahl's base, Stahl activates Massar's weapon, destroying all of the ISA ships. Echo and Kellan are separated in the chaos. Finally, Kellan reaches Stahl himself, strapped to a life support system due to his advanced age (and presumably due to Petrusite exposure). Stahl claims that the Terracide happened because the weak had to be destroyed, and that it is Vekta's turn to share the same fate, but is suddenly shot dead by Sinclair, who enters the room and also shoots Kellan. As Kellan dies, Sinclair states that with the newly reacquired weapon, they can end the Helghast threat forever. Sinclair then apologizes to Kellan before finally executing him.
A mid-credits scene lets the player take control of Echo, sneaking into Vekta City to assassinate Sinclair during a speech he gives to the Vektans, calling for war against the Helghast. Echo comes to a perch overlooking the ceremony, lines up her shot with a sniper rifle and quietly says "For Kellan..." before pulling the trigger, killing Sinclair and preventing a new war from beginning.
- Lucas Kellan (voiced by Gene Farber): the main protagonist of Shadow Fall. Harboring a strong hatred with the Helghast after witnessing his fathers death during the relocation over the wall, Kellan is adopted by Sinclair, who enrolls him into the Shadow Marshal Academy, eventually rising to become one of Sinclair's most trusted agents. Over the course of the story, Kellan's attitude and opinions change, after seeing the state in which the Helghast reside.
- Thomas Sinclair (voiced by David Harewood): a Shadow Marshal and later head of the Vektan Security Agency. Adopting Lucas Kellan during the events of the relocation, Sinclair is shown to be very trusting and protective towards Kellan. At the same time, he shares Kellan's initial contempt towards the Helghast, as he believes that every Helghast seeks the destruction of the Vektans, and that as long as the Helghast exist, the war will never end.
- Maya Visari (voiced by Jamie Gray Hyder): code-named "Echo"; a half-Vektan/half-Helghast covert intelligence agent who seeks to end the Vektan-Helghast War for good. She is the daughter of Lady Visari.
- Vladko Tyran (voiced by Crispian Belfrage): the main antagonist for most of the campaign and psychopathic leader of "The Black Hand" (a terrorist organization of former Helghast agents and soldiers) who seeks to reignite the war.
- Dr. Hillary Massar (voiced by Azura Skye): an ISA scientist conducting dangerous experiments on Helghast captives with a lethal bio-tech weapon.
- Lady Hera Visari (voiced by Lisa Banes): the current leader of the Helghast, daughter of the deceased Emperor Scolar Visari and mother of Maya.
- Anton Saric (voiced by Andreas Beckett): the sadistic head of Helghast Security forces. Saric holds a fiery hatred for the Vektans, blaming them for the destruction of his home planet (which he lived through.)
- Jorhan Stahl (voiced by Gideon Emery): the primary antagonist of Killzone 3 and revealed to be the main antagonist of Shadow Fall, who plots to invade Vekta for the Helghast by killing all of the Vektans, using Massar's bio-tech weapon.
- Michael Kellan (voiced by Jeff Branson): Lucas' father who is killed by Helghast forces during the relocation over the wall (was only seen once).
Killzone Shadow Fall was seen, by Guerrilla Games, as an opportunity to revitalize the franchise, since it was established early in development that they would be working on a new platform. The main point during development was to give players more options on how to proceed, particularly during the single-player mode. According to Guerrilla Games, the original size of Killzone Shadow Fall was 290GB because the game has no assets designed for lower spec systems.
The demo of Killzone Shadow Fall shown during the PlayStation 4's announcement only used 4GB of memory – not the full 8GB GDDR5 RAM available to developers in the final hardware, Guerrilla has revealed. According to the studio, 3072MB (3GB) of the PS4's 8GB were dedicated to video resources powering the demo, with 1,536MB used for system resources. A further 128MB were shared between the two. Of the 3GB reserved for video memory, 1,321 MB were used by non-streaming textures. According to Guerrilla, the demo featured 8200 physics objects, 500 particle systems and real-time reflections - which include "a lot of Guerrilla secret sauce". Guerrilla's decision to stick with 4GB suggest that the developer may not have been aware of Sony's decision to include 8GB in final retail hardware – something Just Add Water CEO Stewart Gilray told VideoGamer.com had been kept secret from third-party developers until the console's announcement. "We were told [PS4] was 4GB originally and we first knew it had 8GBs when Mark said at the event's stage, 'And it has 8GB of memory.' We'd had kits at that point for a good while."
Killzone Shadow Fall ended development and "went gold" on 21 October 2013. The game was released on 15 November 2013 in North America, and was released on 29 November 2013 in Europe, and on 22 February 2014 in Japan, as a launch title for the PlayStation 4.
Participating retailers offered the Shadow Pack as a pre-order bonus. It included three exclusive skins for the OWL combat drone, the MP Spotlight Move (a special victory move to humiliate fallen opponents in multiplayer), and the Killzone Shadow Fall Official Soundtrack.
|This section requires expansion. (February 2014)|
Critical reception for Killzone Shadow Fall has been mostly positive. The game has gained a score of 73 out of 100 on the aggregate review website Metacritic. It was highly praised for its visuals and multiplayer mode, while criticism was directed at the game's story and AI problems. GameZone's Matt Liebl gave Killzone Shadow Fall a 7/10, giving the opinion that "it seems Guerilla Games may have been stuck in the past with Shadow Fall. There just aren't enough "next-gen" moments worthy of being the poster child for the PS4."
The game was a commercial success, selling almost 800,000 copies as of December 25, 2013. As of March 2nd, it has sold over 2.1 million copies.
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