A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What 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.
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?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4
- Subjects: Social Studies: power structures
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
- Release date: November 15, 2013
- Genre: First Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Intense Violence, Strong Language
For kids who love action and adventure games
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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.