Killzone: Shadow Fall Intercept Review: Fresh co-op ideas for a fun diversion
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Killzone Shadow Fall's Intercept expansion uses fresh ideas to raise the dramatic intensity on both ends of the win-lose spectrum, but the novelty wears thin, leaving predictable co-op fun that struggles to make a lasting impression.
- New ideas, well-executed
- Combat pacing
- Smooth party management
- Poor communication of progression
- Horde mode staples
- Shallow content
For the less-than-hardcore player, though, a Mortar Strike is usually enough. What quickly became my team’s go-to activation decimates each uplink with sky-bombs and basically guarantees between 200 and 400 points. When regular matches to 3,000 points can take upwards of 30 minutes (our first attempt was a whopping 55), that’s game-changing every time. Other activations are fun and executed well, but the Mortar Strike’s unapologetic effectiveness rendered them tactically obsolete, especially given the Helghast’s penchant for standing in really tight groups exactly where the mortars fall. This inconsistent balance extends to the maps, as well. The Highway, a crumbling stretch of urban chasms and ruins, kicked our butts for nearly an hour before we finally eked out a victory. We then proceeded to cruise through the forest map in about 17 minutes, aided by its smaller size and much better lines of sight. We didn’t dramatically improve our skills, either--a later run on The Highway, going for 1,500 points instead of 3,000, still took 20 minutes.
As we put in more matches, communicative issues similar to what plagued Shadow Fall’s competitive multiplayer at launch reared their ugly heads. Like the competitive side, new weapons are unlocked for the four co-op classes by completing challenges (say, bank 500 points playing as Assault), not accruing XP. But the specific challenges, and your progress toward them, are buried in menus. You also have to complete a tier of separate “class challenges” before you can start completing challenges that go toward weapon unlocks, but nowhere in my hours of playing was this stated or even made remotely obvious. It took internet searching after the fact to find that other players were similarly confused by their 0 percent progress toward weapon unlocks.
Party setup is also confusing, though admittedly quite elegant once made clear. If you’re in PS4 Party Chat with your teammates (a pre-made group is a huge help for timing banks and power-ups), the game will communicate with the console to see who’s grouped up and automatically send invites when one player joins a lobby. There’s actually no in-game system for forming a party or manually sending invites, though you can join friends already in a match. Meanwhile, if your pre-made group has less than four members, the game will try to fill those slots with other players throughout the match. The invisibility of party management is refreshing, just never explained. Similarly, I couldn’t confirm whether the Helghast scale in number and difficulty according to your team size. Starting a match with only three people seemed to spawn smaller waves, and our Marksman reported getting one-shot kills where two bullets are usually required. But when a stranger joined as our fourth member, the intensity of enemy forces didn’t seem to change in the slightest.
Finally, the things separating Intercept from the countless horde mode copycats on the market are diminished by recognizable cooperative tricks. The Helghast know exactly where you are as soon as they enter the map and are impossibly good shots--necessary to even the odds with human players, perhaps, but still a slight to their believability. The Helghast only spawn from a select few locations; learn those spots, and victory comes much easier through spawn camping. The requisite “boss” enemies even show up from time to time, and we’ve seen their bullet-sponge characteristics before. There's little to distinguish them from the hoard, save teleportation, a few lazy one-liners, and the need to gang up on them.
Thankfully, $9.99 is a reasonable asking price for what's on offer, even if it's only four maps and the promise of six more to come. Intercept’s new ideas are great fun in its opening hours, but the predictability that sets in may only hold the long-term attention of those positively in love with Killzone's satisfying shooting. It’s a fun diversion with cool ideas and one of PS4’s better co-op experiences, but not much more.----
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