Killzone: Shadow Fall
By Chad Sapieha,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Visually striking but very violent first-person shooter.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
While elements of Killzone: Shadow Fall focus on teamwork and strategic reasoning, we don't recommend it for learning because of its graphic violence.
The game's sci-fi story, which sees two cultures separated by a wall at odds with one another while trying to cling to an uneasy truce, serves as an metaphor for a variety of real-world conflicts. However, sensationalistic, bloody, military combat is the game's reason for being and the mechanism through which it entertains.
Positive Role Models
The lead character, an elite military soldier, has personal reasons for hating his enemies: his father was murdered by them. However, he's clearly a moral man and eventually suffers a crisis of conscience, which leads him to fight for peace. That said, his only method of achieving it involves killing lots and lots of soldiers.
Ease of Play
Fairly standard first-person controls apply, though players will need to grow accustomed to the PlayStation 4's new controller, the novel touchpad of which is used in the heat of combat to select modes for a companion drone. It's a bit tricky. No fights in the game are particularly hard, but difficulty can be lowered in the main menu before you start a game.
Violence & Scariness
This is a visceral, sci-fi, first-person shooter that pits players in frenetic gunfights against human opponents. Weapons include pistols, rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, drones, and other realistic-looking military equipment. Dark-red blood splashes with every hit and coats environment surfaces. Civilians may be killed by the player, though they are never targets. Players snap enemies' necks in close-quarters combat, and one scene involves the player's character being repeatedly tortured, screaming loudly, with an electric prod before blacking out.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Spoken dialogue includes infrequent occurrences of the words "f--k" and "s--t."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Killzone: Shadow Fall is an M-rated, futuristic, sci-fi shooter with a constant stream of gritty, bloody gunfights. Characters frequently die screaming in pain, and one scene depicts brutal torture via an electric prod. The story, which acts as a parable for current conflicts in our own world, features a protagonist who's torn over being loyal to his commander and trying to achieve peace between warring peoples. He's a good man who ultimately follows his conscience, but he relies heavily on violence to accomplish his objectives. Also, be aware that this game includes some pretty strong, if infrequent, language.
Where to Play
Videos and Photos
Killzone: Shadow Fall
Based on 5 parent reviews
A review from a stereotypical homeschool parent
Report this review
Report this review
What’s It About?
The latest entry in Guerrilla Games' ongoing series of sci-fi first-person shooters, KILLZONE: SHADOW FALL is one of the signature launch games for PlayStation 4. In a universe set mostly within the capital city of the planet Vekta, players take on the role of an elite Shadow Marshal assigned to deal with threats originating from the Helghast, a culture that was allowed to settle on the planet after Vektans destroyed its home world. There is an uneasy truce, punctuated by terrorist attacks and covert operations carried out by both sides. Some missions also take place off-planet in and around giant ships, and one even sees players exploring the ruins of the Helghast home world. Things come to a head when the game's hero sees the people who are suffering most in the conflict -- civilians -- and meets a Helghast woman who tries to convince him that the coming war between their peoples can and must be averted. Outside the story mode, players can engage in competitive online multiplayer, exploring game types ranging from death matches to more objective-oriented team play.
Is It Any Good?
Killzone: Shadow Fall does what any exclusive game for a new console should: It shows off the hardware's capabilities. It's undeniably spectacular, filled with stunning sci-fi panoramas both on the surface of planets and in outer space. It also casts a spotlight on Sony's new controller by playing audiologs found in the game through its embedded speaker and giving players a chance to use its touchpad to select various modes for the drone that follows the game's hero everywhere he goes.
The game itself, however, is only average. The drone -- which can shoot out zip lines, attack enemies, stun them, and spawn an energy shield on command -- creates some interesting play scenarios, but everything else, from weapons to enemies, feels pretty typical for the genre. There are even a few frustrating problems, like an objective marker that players must manually refresh to keep active on-screen and a frustrating freefall mission with stubbornly nonintuitive controls. Killzone: Shadow Fall isn't a bad game, and some may even get hooked on its entertaining multiplayer mode for a while. Still, there's little to keep most players coming back once they've had their fill of its impressive visual display.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in media. Under what, if any, circumstances is violence appropriate within storytelling media and for what sort of audiences?
Families also can discuss the ability of games to serve as allegories for real-world conflicts. Can a game centered on player-perpetrated violence say something meaningful about antagonistic societies struggling to achieve peace?
- Platform: PlayStation 4
- Subjects: Social Studies: power structures
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork, Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: November 15, 2013
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language
- Last updated: October 29, 2019
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Play
Our Editors Recommend
Best Action Games for Kids
Adventure Games for Kids
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate