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Killzone: Shadow Fall

Platform(s): PlayStation 4
Genre: Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Guerrilla Games
Release Date: Nov. 15, 2013 (US), Nov. 29, 2013 (EU)

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PS4 Review - 'Killzone: Shadow Fall' Insurgent DLC

by Brian Dumlao on May 23, 2014 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Killzone: Shadow Fall is the latest installment in the first-person shooter franchise. It puts you at odds against the Helghast like never before.

Killzone: Shadow Fall has an interesting problem. Released at the same time as the PS4 launch, it was one of many games that came with the option of a Season Pass, so players who wanted more content could get it at a reduced price. Normally, when a first-person shooter does this, the plan is for some extra multiplayer maps. However, Guerrilla Games had planned to make all new maps free to the public, and to date, that promise has been kept. With the biggest part of the DLC being given away for free, the question was what kind of content the development team would sell. The Insurgent DLC gives us our first answer to this question, and if its content is anything to go by, fans are in for something interesting.

By far the pack's biggest addition is a new class called the Insurgent, and he is vastly different from the other classes in Killzone: Shadow Fall. Unlike the other classes, he only has a pistol in his arsenal. He also only has one grenade and no other deployable items, making him pretty useless in a firefight. He can, however, steal any gun from corpses and keep it for as long as he's in the server, though he doesn't get ammo refills between deaths or matches. When near enemy machinery, like shields and drones, he can hack them to make them friendly units, so he's perfect for sabotage. His real game-changing ability is stealing powers from soldiers who have fallen in battle but aren't dead yet. Though the abilities he gains can only be used a limited amount of times, it gives him the widest variety of all the classes, since he can have a nice mix of both defensive and offensive abilities. You might go from healing a fallen ally to deploying a shield to protect others from oncoming fire and then cloaking and sneaking up on enemies with a melee kill. The unpredictability makes the class great for players who have mastered the other classes or for those who are indecisive when it comes to choosing between the three other classes.

The inclusion of a new class means making some tweaks to the older classes to keep everything balanced. For the Assault class, this means an EMP-like beacon that prevents others from deploying machines in the area for a little while. Support gets an echo device that sniffs out all enemies in the field, cloaked or uncloaked, and makes them visible to all other team members. The Scout gets perhaps the best tweak of all in the form of deployable gun turrets, which are portable versions of your base turrets. All three tools are fun to use in every game mode, especially since the Insurgent can pilfer them all. The DLC also throws in three classic weapons from the series for each class. Assault gets a stronger pistol in the form of the LS12 SMG, Support gets the classic M82 assault rifle, and the Scout gets the StA-14 long-range rifle.

Aside from new tools, the Insurgent DLC adds a new component to the multiplayer game: the collectable box. Hidden in each multiplayer session is a box that, when opened, gives the recipient a healthy point lead. There's only one box per match, and the location is always randomized. Though you won't find too many people really aiming to hunt it down, it makes for a good side-quest if you're getting soundly beaten in a match. The interesting thing about the item is that it is only visible to those who bought the DLC, further incentivizing the idea of buying the pack. Whether it becomes useful depends on your luck and skill, and while it doesn't affect the overall match objective, it helps you reach the top of the leaderboard in a match, if that's what you're after.

While most first-person shooter DLCs tend to focus on multiplayer, Insurgent throws in something for the single-player crowd. In this case, it's a new difficulty level that can be summed up as hellacious. The new Elite difficulty level not only ratchets up the durability of the enemy forces and makes you more vulnerable to death, but it also tasks you with trying to complete the entire campaign with no checkpoints (except for in between chapters). Worse, it asks you to do this with only three lives in tow, and losing all of them means restarting the game from the very beginning. It would be a welcome challenge by most people if the campaign didn't provide so many opportunities for cheap deaths. Your newfound fragility makes the stealth sections even more grueling, and the freefall sections are guaranteed to increase gamers' controller-throwing tendencies. There is a welcome movement in gaming to embrace difficult games, but for most players, this takes things a bit too far.

Everything else in the pack is fluff but welcome nonetheless. There's a new paint job for your OWL and several different actions that can be taken if you're the score leader of the winning team. The new animations aren't overly amazing, but they're nice to have. There's also the ability to change your multiplayer announcer's voice, and that's also pretty decent. It's bit better than the default voices but still not iconic enough when compared to some of the more popular games in the genre.

The Killzone: Shadow Fall - Insurgent DLCis geared toward those who love a challenge. The new difficulty level in the campaign will appeal to masochists, and the new multiplayer class is perfect for those who feel like they've mastered the three other classes. Even if you aren't into the random nature of the Insurgent, the three other classes get some nice upgrades, and the return of some classic weapons is a nice nod for longtime fans. It's too bad that the $9.99 price tag feels a bit high for what you're getting. Unless you religiously play the multiplayer or feel the need to master all facets of the campaign, your best bet is to wait for a sale or price drop before picking this up, especially since the meatier maps are being given away gratis.

Score: 6.5/10

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