Of all the PlayStation 4 exclusives scheduled to be released on launch day, Killzone: Shadow Fall has been the one title that I was interested in, but not sure if I would actually be into. With that in mind, I was really looking forward to giving it a shot at the Tokyo Game Show toady, and I was lucky enough to have a lengthy 20 minute session with the game to play around with it.
When I started up the demo, my first impression wasn't exactly awesome. The game locked up as soon as I pressed a button and kicked me back to the PS4 dashboard with an error message. I alerted one of the staff and they quickly and apologetically rebooted it for me. This proceeded to occur another 3 times before I was moved to a different station. I only mention this because it was kind of funny as it was happening, and not to imply that there is any actual problem with the game. I'm sure any such technical issues will be ironed out before launch.
The demo starts off as you stand on the edge of a cliff. On screen instructions directed me to use a remote controlled flying robot to take out enemies below, but since I can't read Kanji, I had no idea what I was supposed to do and proceed to jump off a cliff to my death. My bad. Once I figured out what I was doing though, taking out enemies from a distance with my drone proved to be really cool and effective. After clearing my path of enemies, I used a rope/grappling hook type ability to decent to the path below.\
One of the first things you notice when playing Shadow Fall is just how beautiful everything is. The environment mixed a forested area with futuristic military structures that gave me a nostalgic Return Of The Jedi type vibe. Everything is just amazing looking in the world, especially the environments, weapons and effects. Combine this with tried and true Killzone gameplay and it becomes a very immersive and appealing world to play in.
As I progressed through the level I found myself dying quite a bit, and trying different tactics to move through the enemy infested areas. Climbing up some rocks, jumping behind an unsuspecting enemy and snapping his neck was particularly satisfying. This alerted some other close by enemies, so I switched to my pistol and started dispatching Helgast soldiers one by one at close range while just barely escaping with my life.
One of the things I've liked about the Killzone series in the iterations that I've played is that the enemies are not bullet sponges. 1-3 bullets will usually put a guy down if you aim at the right spots, and that can make the combat really satisfying to me. The really good looking environment of Shadow Fall only proved to enhance that thrill and satisfaction.
The one complaint that had coming away from the experience was that it was often confusing where I was supposed to go. The level design, while beautiful, was far from a linear path and with little to show where the game wanted me to head to. Even after figuring out how to display my next waypoint on the hud by pressing the right button on the d-pad, it wasn't always clear what you had to do to progress, and I often ended up stuck. This problem was shared by others around me who were playing the demo and could be seen regularly asking the staff what they were supposed to do next. Perhaps the level shown is from the middle of the game when players will have wrapped their head around everything works, but it was somewhat frustrating during play.
Overall I walked away from the Killzone: Shadow Fall demo feeling like I'd played a true next generation game for the first time. The graphics were far beyond anything I've ever played in a first person shooter and I loved the forest/futuristic look they had going in the level. I'll definitely be buying the game for my PS4, and I'm looking forward to spending a lot more time with it digging into the campaign. To sum it up, Killzone: Shadow Fall is shaping up to be a great title for launch.