The Killzone franchise, beginning on the PS2, was originally designed to be Sony’s Halo-killer, and desperately failed in that regard. But at the very least, they seem to have understood that to continue along that path was foolishness, and have instead focused their efforts on producing a quality shooter that demonstrates most of the PS4’s capabilities wonderfully in its role as a launch title, and is probably one of the best uses of the PS4 at the moment (although in truth that title wasn’t too hard to claim at this point.)
The story in Killzone is mostly negligible, except when the entire plot is lain out all in row, it actually then becomes hilarious in its portrayal of international politics, and is best experienced when read on Wikipedia, so please feel free to do that for the previous titles if you haven’t played that before. I’m still not fully sure if Killzone is a parody of expansionist jingoism or if people take it seriously, but oh well. The pertinent facts are that in the future, humanity has occupied two planets, the beautiful Vekta, and the resource rich Helghan, and that most of the conflict revolves between the ISA of Vekta and the Helghast of Helghan. At the end of Killzone 3, Helghan is destroyed, and an uneasy peace is struck as both groups try to settle on the remaining planet. You control Lucas Kellen, a shadow ops agent, who works for the ISA and must stop a Helghan terrorist plot. In all fairness, this title does a bit of a better job of making both sides more nuanced and subtle in their good and evil quality, but still not by much. Nevertheless, the campaign is functional and enjoyable in stages.
The meat of any FPS is gameplay of course. KSF has a very nice mix of environments, which are themselves a good mix of corridor and open field style combat, where the player is often told simply to reach a target, and the path is up to them to choose, and they must deal with the enemy along the way as they wish. Combat is the usual modern two-guns-at-a-time deal, but the variety and alternate fire modes on all the weapons makes them feel very nice and varied. The player is also encouraged to take out as many enemies as possible through stealth, and there is a function to scan the area passively to search out body heat, which looks quite impressive when employed.
Combat is enhanced by the use of Lucas’ small robot thing, which fulfills 4 different functions, all controlled by the touch pad on the DualShock 4. This robot can erect a shield, attack enemies, revive Lucas, or, most fun of all, launch a zipline down for Lucas to slide quickly down to enemies, making movement far more fast paced and frenetic. The freedom to use such a gadget almost any time the player wants is very appreciated, as a title such as COD would have certainly restricted this to only certain points.
Graphically, KSF looks beautiful, not only with the quality of items, but the amount of them on screen, with smoke and water and particles flying around looking gorgeous and realistic, and with the game constantly making me stop and just stare at a set piece before moving on. As said before, it’s a good ambassador for the new technology available to us from now on.
KSF does in fact still have a multiplayer mode, which is actually pretty good and very fun. Rather than a create-a-character mode like most modern FPS titles have, KSF has a choice of specialized classes that all feel and play very uniquely, and unlocks are achieved by actually doing certain actions in multiplayer, making it far more dynamic in how a player progresses, mostly through their own merits and skill now. Added to this is some good maps and some solid game modes, and I had a very good time with the multiplayer of this title, and it should be seriously considered by gamers, in my opinion.
I liked KSF a lot, and I didn’t especially like either Killzone 2 or 3. Its fresh, vibrant, gorgeous, fluid, fun, satisfying and quick paced as a shooter, which is all you really want, with a good play time and a good multiplayer mode for extended playing. Out of the two exclusive PS4 titles at launch, it’s definitely the superior one, and is a good game in its own right for sure.