Killzone: Shadow Fall is one of two Sony exclusives that launched alongside the PS4. I have always preferred the Killzone series to any other military shooter because in past installments both the campaign and multiplayer components have been accessible to a point. For some gamers, Killzone: Shadow Fall carried forward that legacy of accessibility—just not for me.
To being with, players with visual disabilities have often been excluded from the Killzone experience by the dark color palette used in many levels and arenas. It is very easy to lose sight of the Helghast soldier standing in front of you if he blends into the industrial grime of the level. Killzone: Shadow Fall, however, features both Vektan and Helghast areas of the same war-torn planet. As a result, many of the levels feature a lighter, easier-to-distinguish color palette. Even on the darker levels, players have a new option: a radar ability allows players to emit a pulse that highlights in orange any enemies within the radius. This can make it easier for players with visual disabilities to distinguish between enemies and the background.
Unfortunately, I cannot speak more directly because two levels into the game’s campaign I was stymied by a complete inability to proceed. To be fair, this may be due somewhat to a lack of skill on my part. But it is certainly also due to the way in which Killzone: Shadow Fall represents a dramatic shift in the Killzone series.
In previous games, players took the role of a soldier in a very open war. They participated in battles alongside dozens of other NPCs. These games offered players with fine motor disabilities a resource to fall back on when confronted with particularly stiff Helghast resistance: players were often teamed up with a medic that could heal them when things got dicey. By contrast, in Killzone: Shadow Fall, players play as a Shadow Marshal, a covert operative responsible for policing the wall between Vektans and Helghast. As a result, instead of acting as the leader of a unit, players are on their own. Developers have tried to compensate for this lack of support by giving players the OWL, a drone which can be set to revive the player, provide fire support, shield the player, hack computer terminals, and deploy a zip line for quick map traversal. The problem is that the only way that players can control this is by using the PS4’s touchpad—and use of the OWL is critical when surrounded by groups of enemies. This means that players will have to juggle regular FPS mechanics (such as target acquisition and firing while on the move) with controlling the drone, a skill which (no matter how hard I tried) I could not master. Combine this juggling act with an almost total lack of controller customization and a checkpoint system that saves all too infrequently (and does not give you the option to save in the middle of a level and exit the game), and what was in previous iterations a healthy challenge for those with fine motor disabilities has become a completely joyless quagmire.
As far as I can tell, players with hearing disabilities will have little problem with this game. Although the in-level dialogue is not tagged, since the majority of the conversations seem to take place between the main character Lucas and at maximum one other character, it is obvious who is speaking given the context of what it being said. Even though I was not able to progress further, it seems like a hearing impairment would only pose slight problems for gamers trying to enjoy this game.
Unfortunately, due to the fine motor barriers, I was not able to get as familiar with Killzone: Shadow Fall as I had hoped. It seems to be reasonably accessible for players with both hearing and sight disabilities. But players with fine motor disabilities should probably rent or borrow this game to determine whether they themselves can play it.
Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
GameInformer Score: 8.00
The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Killzone: Shadow Fall
– Game features a wide variety of color palettes.
|-There are a few dark environments where enemies can easily blend in.|
-The OWL can help compensate for a disability when controlled properly.
– It is very hard to control the OWL in a timely fashion.
– All cinematic dialogue and most in-level dialogue is subtitled.
-Dialogue tags are missing.
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