|Publisher||Sony Computer Entertainment|
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Shadow Fall takes place 30 years after the events of Killzone 3. The Helghast home world, Helghan, has been left in ruins, but the good guys from earlier in the series, the ISA have graciously allowed refugees to settle on planet Vekta—albeit on the other side of a Berlin Wall–style barricade. As you might expect, the Helghast are none too pleased about this, and a new conflict soon erupts.
I believe that in hindsight, as I write this, most of my dislike for Shadow Fall came from the fact that my hands-on demo was soured by being pushed to use some of the new tech on the PS4 controller, which hinders more than enhances the FPS experience in a couple of ways.
The demo’s primary purpose was meant to highlight new equipment in the game, especially a zipline and the OWL drone companion. The zipline was interesting, but it was rare in my demo I had enough time to line it up properly, as I was always being pelted by enemy fire. The drone, on the other hand? Well, this fun little guy can lay down cover fire, drop a shield for you in the middle of nowhere, and hack computer terminals with the greatest of ease. I was told that the only way to select what you wanted the OWL to do, however, was with the touchpad on the controller, before deploying it with the right trigger. It wasn’t until much later that I found out you could bring up the OWL menu with a button press as well, which would’ve made my experience a lot more enjoyable.
You see, the touchpad is a nice idea, but it’s poorly placed on the controller. In an FPS game, because of that poor placement, you have to remove one of your thumbs from a stick in order to swipe the pad. Any regular FPS player out there knows this could obviously be cumbersome, especially in a firefight, which is what most of the demo consists of really.
The controller isn’t entirely at fault here, though, as the demo I played also struck me as poorly balanced. The enemies felt like bullet sponges, yet I would die in a couple of hits. I’m also not thrilled that the scene I was placed in was given no context beyond simply killing everyone shooting at me. All in all, this seemed like a surprisingly poor showing from franchise that blew me away with its Vita entry, Mercenaries, when I went hands-on a couple months ago.
Truth be told, even beyond the touchscreen debacle, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the experience was just a bit too generic and phoned in. I hope getting some more time to play Shadow Fall—using the controller on my terms and getting some real context to the action—will offer a more favorable experience. In the heat of the moment, though, I honestly couldn’t wait to put that controller down and go play something else—no matter how great the game’s graphics looked.